Tuesday, May 19, 2009

惊异与忧虑 Wonder and Concern

In the west, it is said that philosophy began in wonder. In contrast, Chinese philosophy began as a result of an attitude of concern, which led finally to practical wisdom for guiding human destiny.
The ancient Greeks were fascinated by the richness, order, and beauty of the world around us. They wondered at the grandeur and horror of the acts we perpetrated, and, not least, wondered at the mystery and elusiveness of our own nature. Philosophers reflect on all these matters, trying to understand the world and themselves.
Aristotle said that it is owing to their wonder that men begin to philosophize; they wondered originally at the obvious difficulties, then advanced little by little and stated difficulties about the greater matters.
By contrast, Chinese thought in general and Confucianism in particular were originated as a result of the attitude of concern which led not to universal theorization, but to universal praxis. It was because of his concern with the destiny of the individual and society that the Chinese mind began to philosophize.
This concern can be aptly known as the Chinese ‘Worrying Mentality’, which always concern what has gone wrong with things and what can make things right. The worrying mentality is said to be an on-going phenomenon in the hearts of the Chinese.
The Great Appendix to the Book of Changes, traditionally attributed to Confucius as its author, proclaimed that the author of Yi must be a worried man. With this feeling of anxious apprehension, the author taught how peril may be turned into security, and easy carelessness is sure to meet with overthrow.
As Menzi said, ‘Life springs from sorrow and calamity, and death from ease and pleasure.’

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