Tuesday, September 21, 2010

世界观:中西不同 Worldview: East and West See Different Views

A worldview can be considered as comprising a number of basic beliefs and axioms which cannot, by definition, be proven in the logical sense.
In the West, by the time of Plato and Aristotle, the worldview that had come to dominate classical Greek thinking is the so-called Two-world theory. The main concern of the Western thinkers is to discover and distinguish the world of reality from the world of change. They look for permanent and unchanging first principle that has overcome initial chaos to give unity, order, and design to changing world. They seek the ‘real’ structure behind change that when understood, made life predictable and secure. This ‘real’ structure is called variously Plato Ideas, divine law, natural law, moral principle, God, etc.
The human being straddles the two worlds, with the soul belonging to the higher, originative, and enduring permanent world and the body belonging to the realm of appearance. The soul has access to the ‘reality’ through reason and revelation, and thus can make claim to knowledge. It is through the discovery of the underlying cosmic order which is assumed to be a ‘single-ordered world’, that the universe becomes intelligible and predictable for the human being.
On the other hand, the Chinese worldview can be known as One-world view that there is one continues and concrete world. The world is the source and locus of all our experience. It is resolutely dynamic, auto-generative, self-organizing and alive.
In the Chinese traditional thinking, there is no final distinction between some independent source of order and what it orders. The world and its order at any particular time are self-causing – spontaneously ‘so-of-itself’ (natural, ziran). Truth, beauty, and goodness as standards of order are not ‘givens’ as much as they are historically emergent, something done, a cultural product.
It is for this reason Confucius said, ‘It is human beings who extend order in the world, not order that extends human beings.

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