Dialectic of Modern Civilization

The evolution of modern civilization has so far unfolded two remarkable pictures before us: one depicting the grandiose advancement of modern science and technology as well as unprecedented abundance of material; the other, which is rather gloomy, showing a big variety of severe challenges, some of the most grievous ones even endangering the environment of its mere existence. The two dialectical sides of the same civilizational coin confuses us, rousing in us many questions such as: Why has the evolution of modern civilization brought two pictures, instead of only the desirable one with all the good but the bad? How are they related to each other? How do we understand the two dialectical sides in terms of mankind’s thinking modality and civilizational pattern? And what would a new thinking and new civilizatonal patter(s) possibly be as we try to resolve our problems and prepare a path for a more desirable future? I would like to engage in a dialectic analysis in responding to the above questions with the belief that a comprehension of the two contradictory pictures requires an approach enabling us to get to know dialectic of the evolution of modern civilization, and discover a path leading to a harmonious world in the future.

1. What Is Dialectic?

What is dialectic? How could an analysis in dialectic terms be plausible? Dialectic has its origin in the Greek language, deriving its name from the verb meaning "to converse," which refers to "the art of conversation, discussion or debate." Socrates first applied dialectic in refuting the hypotheses of his opponents by drawing unacceptable consequences from them. He dealt with an opponent’s statement by getting him in the course of questioning to accept, as an ultimate consequence of it, a statement contradicting it. Socrates led him on to a generalization by making him to accept its truth in a series of instances. Therefore, in the first place, dialectic is a method or technique of analytical argumentation, which was used and taught by thinkers such as Zeno, Plato, Aristotle, stoic logicians, and, even far later, as a means of examining candidates for degrees at the medieval universities.

Hegel gave a new turn to dialectic, and as he regards it, dialectic is not merely a process of reasoning, but a process that can be found in history, as well as in the universe as a whole, consisting of a necessary movement from thesis to antithesis, and then to a synthesis of the two. Hence, "the dialectic of the concept itself became merely the conscious reflection of the dialectical motion of the real world" (Engels: Feuerbach, ch. 4).

The notion of dialectics of Marx and Engels, which has been derived from developed Hegel, substitutes "matter" for Hegel's "spirit" as the basis of the dialectical process, and recognizes a development of the novel and more complex, or a motion more complex than mechanical motion. Dialectical materialism, as they call it, consists of three laws of development, which are (1) from quantitative to qualitative changes; (2) the interpenetration of opposites, involving the existence of contradictions within nature; (3) the negation of negation by which the new arises.

As for the Chinese philosophy, it does not have an equivalent for "dialectic," but a modality of Chinese thinking has taken root deeply in a similar model. You can pick up any phrase from the Chinese philosophers and find it based upon as such, according to which there is no such thing in the universe that possesses only a single element, or is absolute, extreme, and one-sided; everything has opposite elements and is correlative in a comparable balance, and changeable. Confucius developed his concept of "ren" (humane) on the basis of two-persons. Indeed, the character "ren" is a composition of the two characters meaning "two persons," which implies that being humane leads to a desirable balance in the relationship between men. Lao Zi says, "Happiness always has misfortune hiding behind; and misfortune is always in the light of happiness," and "Something and nothing produce each other; the difficult and the easy complement each other; the long and the short off-set each other; the high and the low incline towards each other, note and sound harmonize with each other; before and after follow each other." In the philosophical classicYijing, we read: "In theYi, there is Taiji (the Supreme Ultimate), from which grow the elementary aspects,yinandyang. From the two aspects grow the four emblematic images." The symbol, which embodies the pattern of the universe (oryuzhouin Chinese), is a circle with two fish-shaped halves in it, one half is black, the other white.

It is the culturally deep-rooted similar pattern of dialectic that has made Marxism much more acceptable in China than any other Western ideas. Since the 1920s after Marxism was introduced into China, the Chinese intellectuals have read Marxian dialectics and gained an understanding facilitated by traditional Chinese worldviews, and thus developed China's own “dialectical” thinking. The new Chinese dialectic pattern consists of the following propositions: (1) Everything entails two opposite elements or basic aspects; (2) The two opposite elements or basic aspects are co-existent, correlative, interpenetrating, contradictory, and interdependent. (3) Things change constantly as the opposites struggle perpetually; (4) A thing exhibits the quality of the aspect within itself that has gained the upper hand in the internal struggle; (5) Under certain circumstances, the two opposite elements (aspects) change into each other’s position; (5) The internal cause for a thing to change is fundamental; the external cause, as the conditions for that change, is merely auxiliary; (7) The stable state of things is only transitory, and correlative with the unstable; (8) The continuity or correlativity of opposites is the core nature of everything; (9) “Universality” and peculiarity are pairing opposites; and it is in peculiarity where “universality” exists. By “universality” it means that pairing opposites exist in the developmental process of all things; by peculiarity it refers to the fact that in anything’s developmental process there exists from beginning to the end the movement of contradiction. (10) Whereas there may be multiple pairing opposites or contradictions one can always find one as dominating the others; the dominating pairing opposites or contradiction can become one of the dominated under certain circumstances.

2. Dialectic of Modern Civilization

As seen in such a modality of Chinese dialectical thinking, we may tend to consider the gloomy aspects of modern civilization not that difficult to understand since 1) everything entails two opposite elements or basic aspects and (2) they are co-existent, correlative, interpenetrating, contradictory, and interdependent. In other words, any thing transforms itself into its opposite under certain circumstances, and a good thing can lead to bad results, so can a bad thing to good results. Modern civilization has demonstrated negative aspects for the reasons that it claims a patent of the West, the only formation of the Western capitalist society, with economically the peculiar private property ownership based on the proposition the individual’s right bestowed by god to unlimitedly accumulate private wealth, free-markets; politically constitutionalism, check-and-balance, two-party systems, general election, the rule of law, etc., and ideologically, the ideas of individualism, liberalism, democracy, human rights, and equality. This is so because “no nation or combination of nations can claim a monopoly of civilization (Tehranian 2004), and all the promises of the modern civilization are logically invalid and proved mere myths by its practices.

The concept “civilization” is a typical Western thinking. It has suggested city dwelling in the Mediterranean world, and city life in the European as well as Arabic and Persian (madaniyya, tammadon) languages. Civatas, civility, civil and citizen are all derived from “civilization.” By contrast, the term for civilizationwen mingandbun mei, in the Chinese and Japanese languages suggests learning and enlightenment (Tehranian 2004). The word’s Mediterranean meaning of city is rather historical and peculiar. To gain a global understanding, the concept civilization needs to include what it suggests for other civilizations. However, throughout history, civilization has been employed as an ideological tool to legitimate hegemonic rule in global scale by creating a wedge between “us” and “them.”

The concept “modern civilization” has found great currency, particularly since the post-Cold War discourses internationally. Even if we speak of the concept merely as the unprecedented advantage of science and technology in modern times, history still shows that it has borrowed heavily from the past to build up its won achievements. “The invention of fire, wheel, compass, print, automobile, satellites, and computers has been contributed by different nations.” (2004) In hisThe Origins of Western Civilisation, John Hobsonchallenges the ethnocentric bias of mainstream accounts of the Rise of the West. It is often believed that since Ancient Greek times Europeans have pioneered their own development, and that the East has been a passive by-stander in the story of progressive world history. Hobson argues that there were two processes that enabled the Rise of the 'Oriental West'. First, each major developmental turning point in Europe was informed in large part by the assimilation of Eastern inventions (e.g. ideas, technologies and institutions), which diffused from the more advanced East across the Eastern-led global economy between 500-1800. Second, the construction of European identity after 1453 led to imperialism, through which Europeans appropriated many Eastern resources (land, labor and markets). Hobson's book thus propels the hitherto marginalized Eastern peoples to the forefront of the story of progress in world history. Hobson’s study reveals that the progressive role that the East has played in contributing to the rise of the modern world. While many “non-Western” peoples have played an important role, including the Muslims, African and Indians, undoubtedly the Chinese have performed the major role. The rise of the West and the breakthrough to modernity would most likely not have occurred without the considerable help provided by the advanced inventions that had been pioneered by the Chinese – not just the famous basic four (paper, printing, gunpowder, and the maritime compass) – but many others.

Except for the different meaning that the concept civilization suggests in the Chinese and Japanese languages, and the Eastern origins of Western civilization, as Hobson argues, what may be considered the other sides of civilization or modern civilization, which was marked by the technological inventions of the seventeenth to eighteenth centuries leading to an Industrial Revolution, should also includes the movements of the working people in the Western capitalist societies and the national liberation movements of the colonized third world countries, who had been direct victims of modern civilization and constituted its contradictory, co-existent, correlative, interpenetrating, and interdependent elements and basic aspects.

Technological advances in military, economic, and communicational sectors of the modernly civilized societies have led to domination of other nationsand left the cultural and political sectors for behind. AsDaniel R. Hedrick argues, the true victory of European civilization was due to vaccines, coagulated patrol, steamboat and airplane, electricity and radio, plastics and printing, in a word, it was the successful technology but not ideology.

Informatic civilization has been emerging from the womb of industrial societies and has been labeled Post-Industrial, Information, Knowledge, Postmodern, Network, and Society. Since its inception technological advances have widened the economic and cultural gaps between the rich and poor, within and among nations. The technologies of violence have dramatically increased the levels of kill by hits (Tehranian 2004). As Tehranian states, Jihad vs. MacWorld is not the peculiarity of Islamic and American worldviews. It is a more general phenomenon reflecting the great material and cultural chasms that informatic imperialism is creating in the world; and the current world conflicts stem from material and cultural gaps represented by two global pathologies namely commodity and identity fetishism. (2004)

As he analyses, the transition from an industrial to an informatic civilization “may be generally dated to the postwar period (1945-present). The mode of production under industrial civilization was best by symbolized by the homogenizing influences of the assembly line and high mass consumption. The latter depended on a acquisitive society promoted by commercial advertising”; “the pathology of commodity fetishism is a tendency to evaluate the worth of an individual by the commodities he or she consumes. The house, automobile, clothes and perfumes consumed thus tend to define personal identities in high-consumption societies.” (2004) Since the 1960s, American society has been torn between the two competing cultural values of industrial and informatic civilizations”; the flower Revolution of the 1960s celebrated nature, sexuality, peace, and participatory democracy, which were part of a cultural revolution against the exacting industrial demands for domination of nature and society based on competitiveness, elitism and imperialism. (2004) Increasingly there is a passionate search for identity focused on gender, ethnicity, and religion; social movements such as the feminist, gay, lesbian and Christian fundamentalism have become the hallmark of American cultural conflicts. (2004) On a global scale, the growing economic and cultural gaps within the nations are breeding an international and intercultural civil war without physical and moral boundaries. (2004)

It seems that modern civilization has been transforming itself into its opposite, and that good faiths have lead to bad results. A major paradigmatic shift has been taking place in the worldviews of industrial civilization and questions have increasingly brought to confront the fundamental assumptions of the Enlightenment Project: the justice of the marketplace, the infinite perfectibility of humankind, the inevitability of historical progress, the moral legitimacy of human domination and exploitation of nature, and the universal truth of empirical science. The assumptions of liberal democracy seem to have less and less irrelevant to popular sovereignty. Political advertising financed by special interests has left little room for the classical liberal view of deliberate debate on public polities (Habermas, 1991). Voluntary associations and the public sphere of discourse are increasingly shifting from the mass media to the interactive Internet channels With the decline of voluntary associations to act as a balancer, mass audiences seem to be easily manipulated into believing the prevailing ideological propaganda. The assumption of each person’s development is considered a condition for all’s development has become the most relevant myth.

In conclusion, from a dialectic points of view, the problem has been that all the ideas with their carrier of modern civilization has transformed themselves into their own opposites. 1) Individual freedom turns out to be freedom not for all but becomes new slavery – the individual being slaved by commodity and identity fetishism and the masses manipulated by the few, humanity by itself and material, man is alienated and objectified. 2) Democracy has become a form of the relations between the rich, the powerful and the few; it is originally not for all, and increasingly less as more technological advances are invented; and in global scale, however, the challenge is to truly claim, “democratizing” global governance. 3) Emancipation has also presented opposites to itself, that it, it has still been the old political pattern: the rich and powerful enslave the masses, the strong nation enslave the weak and small by invasions in name of democracy but with slaughter, mass destruction, and destroying other peoples in America and else where in name of civilization. God has still maintains a popular belief but justifying the individual’s maximizing private wealth. 4) Individual happiness seems to have become merely a tendency to evaluate with one kind of measurement, that is, the money, power, commodities, house, automobile, clothes and perfumes one gains or consumes. In fact the strong minority’s happiness in the expense of the weak majority, who are miserable, voiceless, coerced, repressed, and with little living means; the is no happiness for all, people are alienated, from themselves, becoming commodity, not living for themselves, but for others, for money, and for the external. 5) History has not been an ongoing process, but driven by capital and manipulated by the few, progress is merely sophisticated means and materialism; human thinking has become increasingly simplistic. The old and barbaric ideology does not only exist but also proliferated and dominating. The most primitive and backward, cruel human relations still exist; there has been no progress in spiritual terms. Why it is so? Since the roots of modern civilization were in the Enlightenment Project; the doctrines of liberal democracy must be rethought as regards its logics and validity; and a dialectic analysis of the Enlightenment is inevitably necessary.

3. "Dialectic of Enlightenment"

For a dialectic understanding of the evolution of modern civilization,Dialectic of Enlightenmentof Adorno and Horkheimer have provided the groundwork; the Enlightenment Project constitutes a turning point of the Western intellectual tradition from the pre-modern to modern. This turn indeed signifies a self-transformation of the Enlightenment Project itself to its opposite as well as the inception of Western modern civilization in transforming itself to its opposite. The Enlightenment began with an effort to overcome myth, animism, and resignation to divine fatality. It was the discovery of human freedom. The instrument by means of which human beings to overcome myth and gain freedom is science, rationalism, reason, positivism, or looking for empirical facts. However, the problem that has from here arisen is that all these ideas had their opposites, an inappropriate stress on these ideas has transformed them into their opposites, their content has changed, the Enlightenment is left merely as an empty shell, a naked symbol.

a) Freedom:

Freedom is correlative to its opposite side, i.e., slavery by myth, animism, and divine fatality. Myth, animism, and beliefs in divine fatality had existed as so extreme a form that it led to a break-up of equilibrium in which European history witnessed tearing wars and religious repression. The intellectual movement rose as the opposite side to enlighten people with the notion of freedom. At this point, freedom only meant being freed from slavery by myth, animism, and divine fatality, and the concept freedom was logical because it was linked to and meant from slavery. However, when freedom began being used to mean self-preservation, self-determination, or, in a word, individualism, the concept was no longer logical, but became merely a psychological symbol, since freedom could only be attained with regard to its opposite side; without its opposite, the concept could not logically and independently established; if it does, it would become an absolute concept, and there is no such thing as absolute freedom in reality.

Such concepts freedom, self-preservation, and self-determination are all in a limited sense. In addition, freedom and individualism are different concepts and different things. If you take individualism as freedom, you already abandon the content but accept it as a mere symbol, and freedom becomes an extreme form. This is because, as it always means "do according to your own will, or desires," individualism does not have the opposite side as freedom does (Individualism's opposite side is collectivism), and is not in the same category; thus it cannot be taken as the same concept. In the meantime, as a key point, between being free from slavery and divine fatality to "doing according to your own desires" there exists a tremendous conceptual gap. Therefore, the concept of freedom, once found in the extreme sense, would necessarily lead itself to its opposite position – a novel form of slavery.

Whereas the Enlightenment has made possible the liberation of human beings from oppression of divine fatality, it also has made the individual abstain that freedom and trapped in a new type of slave as long as the Enlightenment project only carries such a goal as individualism--"doing whatever according to your own will or desires." This distorted, irrational concept of freedom would for sure place the individual in the position enslaved numbly by his physical body and by materials. Not in the sense of self-preservation and self-determination with his own consciousness, the individual is objectified and merely driven by irrational will and desires, either enslaving or enslaved in the social structure; freedom remains a mere "easy-to-swallow" empty form. This is so true as Horkheimer and Adorno assert it, "In its bourgeois form, the Enlightenment had lost itself in its positivistic aspect long before Turgot and d'Alembert. It was never immune to the exchange of freedom for the pursuit of self-preservation. The suspension of the concept, whether in the name of progress or of culture--which had already long before tacitly leagued themselves against the truth--opened the way for falsehood." (DE. p. 40)

b) Science and rationalism:

Thus comes the second question: What is the purpose of science, rationalism, positivism, reason, etc.? In the first place, the Enlightenment was a negation of the religious mythology, faith, and divine revelation, It tried to tell: "There is no divine interference in the universe," "There is no such thing as original sin; men are not inherently depraved but driven to acts and meanness by scheming priests," and "There are no innate ideas and the universe is not guided by benevolent purpose."[10] Evidently, therefore, the purpose of such concepts as science, rationalism, reason, positivism, and looking for empirical facts was to free human beings from the domination by the religious belief in divine fatality. At this point, as what all these concepts claimed and approached to were knowledge, the Enlightenment should have made a real negation of the past and incredible progress in the history of human thought. Unfortunately, however, since the concept of freedom has now already changed its content, the purpose of science also follows suit, no longer means to approach knowledge in order to gain freedom from divine fatality, but serves to gain the individual's interests and satisfies his desires. This is a fundamental change from the relative to the extreme in which science, rationalism, reason, positivism, and looking for empirical facts all lost their original purpose and thus the meaning of the Enlightenment.

As soon as they were no longer directed at their original goal, these concepts, now in their extreme form, would no longer mean a negation of their opposite, but a change into the position of and obtaining the same attributes of their opposite. For instrumental reasons, they are, now as means and methodology, treated as a new faith, falling prey to myth. As long as science, rationalism, reason, positivism, and looking for empirical facts serves individual interests and satisfies desires, such concepts as divine fatality, faith, and myth would not be any bother. Since, by means of those concepts, the bourgeoisie has gained their wealth and power; the concepts now possess the same sort of magic and gain the position of divine fatality, which bless their success. What now the enlightenment has done is no more than placing the individual interests and desires on the holy position of God, and there should have no enlightenment at all if God had permitted the individual to seek private interests in the first place. As a result, the Enlightenment changed nothing with such concepts as science, rationalism, reason, positivism, and looking for empirical facts, because self-interests and individual desires are no less irrational than the concept of divine fatality. In situations, science, rationalism, positivism, looking for empirical facts, would play the role of apparatus in service of the irrational. And yet, once they play such a role, they already turned out to be something irrational, unreasonable and non-science; and the Enlightenment has thus become unenlightenment.

As viewed from the Chinese modality of dialectic, the Enlightenment has not been a project of consistency, rationality, reasoning, self-containment, nor in the mean range of equilibrium and harmony, but merely a system of extremes, whimsies, self-contradictions, and chaos in the first place. Hasn't enlightened thinking been understood in the tradition of the Enlightenment as an opposition and counterforce to myth? The existence of God is the most fundamental myth, why did Descartes, the father of the new rationalism, still assert that God exists, that every individual thing--a solar system, a star, the earth itself--is a self-operating machine propelled by a force assisting from the original motion given to the universe by God, that mind is implanted in the body of man by God? Why did Spinoza maintain that mind and body of man are different aspects of essential substance – God? Why did even Albert Einstein declare that his idea of God was the same as that of Spinoza? Why did Hobbes, one of the triple paternities of the Enlightenment, still believe that God exists, and has a physical body? Why did Newton, a real founder of the Enlightenment, still not rule out the idea of God while depriving Him of His power to guide the stars in their courses? Why did Locke, another founder of the project of Enlightenment, teach the voice of reason – the law of nature – while still believing that a rational person would always live according to simple Christian precepts, and that all human beings are the images and property of God? Why did almost all the famous philosophers of the Enlightenment like Voltaire, Montesquieu, Hume, Smith, Kant, etc, entwined enlightened thinking with the religious mythology of God? Why did most of the scientists were very devout people, seeing the new rational, scientific picture of physical nature as suggesting a new picture of God? How could science, rationalism, reason, positivism, looking for empirical facts etc., become really scientific, really rational, really positive, really looking for empirical facts, making human beings really enlightened without solving the myth of God? It is an inevitable outcome that all these concepts have turned out to be merely instrumental reasons for the purpose of the rational serving the irrational. A good example to illustrate the point is the fact that the idea of the infinite use of nature's goods for the material benefit of humankind – a concept that has dominated Western life until recent years – stemmed directly from the Enlightenment.

The extremes and self-contradictions in the project of the Enlightenment were also seen in the confrontations between the theories that were all presented as enlightened thinking, but so contradicted to each other. Whereas the Enlightenment as a philosophic movement of the 18th century marked by questioning of traditional doctrines and values, a tendency toward individualism and, in the tradition of Thomas Hobbes and John Locke, most eighteenth-century political thinkers regarded human beings as individuals and society as a collection of such independent individuals pursuing personal, selfish goals, and wished to liberate these individuals from the undue bonds of government. And, still, Adam Smith asserted that the means to those ends was the unleashing of individuals to pursue their own selfish economic interest.

Spinoza, one of the most noted figures of rationalism, from which the inspiration for the Enlightenment derived, criticized men's prizing most highly wealth, pleasure, power, and fame which is empty and vain, and claimed that true freedom is to realize we are not free. Rousseau, one of the famous enlightened writers who forged new attitude and championed change and reform, raised the more fundamental question of what the good life is, which had haunted European social thought ever since the eighteenth century. He suggested that society is more important than its individual members, because they are what they are only because of their relationship to the larger community. Independent human beings living alone can achieve very little. Through their relationship to the larger community, they become moral creatures capable of significant action. Therefore, from these confrontations, it is apparent that the Enlightenment as a philosophic movement of the 18th century marked by questioning of traditional doctrines and values, a tendency toward individualism, merely in the tradition of Thomas Hobbes and John Locke, has made a distortion of the meaning of enlightenment.

c) Morality:

Originally the morality of the enlightenment is an attempt to replace religion with reason. Kant's attempt is to derive the duty of mutual respect and mutual love from a law of reason. However, the attempt to ground respect and love upon something other than material interest and force has proved to be paradoxical, ephemeral, and merely propagandist and sentimental; those who would forego profit only on the Kantian motive of respect for the mere form of law would not be enlightened, but superstitious – a fool.

Why? This is because Enlightenment committed itself to liberalism. Marquis de Sade made it clear that it is the understanding without the guidance of another person, i.e., individual free from tutelage, and that self-preservation is made the constitutive principle of science. It also means that science serves individualism, and that rationalism, or positivism, looking empirical facts, serves to reach the individual's end, which often based on private interests and personal irrational, emotional desire;

As science, rationalism, and calculations are ground upon the individual ends, science as a whole changes its nature from the rational into the irrational, which would lead to contradistinction to the moral imperative, and removal of the bottom line of the Enlightenment. Rationalism would never be related to the morality, since by pure reason and science even the mean and wretched, i.e., immorality, would prevail. As Horkheimer and Adorno assert, Fascist totalitarian order prevailed by giving full rein to calculation and abiding by science as such, with a canon of gaining brutal efficiency in the economy.

The notion of the Enlightenment in the modern time has no longer presented itself as replacing religion with reason but pursuing domination with reason. All the more in accordance with pure reason, morality becomes "new morality," or no morality, or immorality. Liberalism as applied in new mode of economic production ignores any disciplines in terms of morality. So does in social life. These are fully expressed in the bourgeois philosophers' doctrines. As Hobbes maintains it, even before the project of the Enlightenment, "there are no absolute standards of good and evil. Good is merely that which gives pleasure; evil, that which brings pain." He combines with materialism and mechanism a thoroughgoing philosophy of hedonism.

This is not the Enlightenment in Rousseau's sense, though. According to Rousseau, it is impossible for human beings living according to contemporary commercial values to achieve moral, virtuous, or sincere lives. He contended that the process of civilization and enlightenment had corrupted human nature. Human beings in the state of nature had been more dignified. In 1755, in a Discourse on the Origin of Inequality, Rousseau blamed much of the evil in the world on unequal distribution of property. He drew into question the concepts of material and intellectual progress and the morality of a society in which commerce and industry were regarded as the most important of human activities. He felt that the real purpose of society was to nurture better people. The question then becomes what kind of community allows people to behave morally. His conclusion was: "Contemporary European society was not such a community, but merely an aggregate of competing individuals whose chief social goal was to preserve selfish independence in spite of all potential social bands and obligations."

The concept of morality later has turned out to be even more inconceivable to Rousseau. For example, with respect to government and the people, Francavilla indicated the "new morality" as follows:

"The government must control the population, and must possess all the means necessary to exterminate them when afraid of them, or to increase their numbers when that seems desirable. There should never be any counterweight to the justice of government other than that of the interests or passions of those who govern, together with the passions and interests of those who, as we have said, have received from it only so much power as is requisite to reproduce their own." "Take its God from the people that you with to subjugate, and then demoralize it; so long as it worships no other god than you, and has no other morals than your morals, you will always be its master ...allow it in return the most extreme criminal license; punish it only when it turns upon you." (DE. p. 89)

Juliette embodies intellectual pleasure in regression, the pleasure attacking civilization with its own weapons. Her particular passion is to transform all values. Once Her friend Princess Borghese asked "Are pretexts necessary in order to commit a crime?" Then she proclaims the quintessence of her theory in Nietzsche's sense: "The weak and unsuccessful must perish; this is the first proposition of our philanthropy. And they should not even be helped on their way. What is more injurious than any vice – the compassion of action for all failures and weaklings – Christianity..." (DE. p. 97) Christianity forced tyrants to acknowledge the doctrine of brotherhood, took up the role of the weak. Here the intention against religion is so clear but from an even more repressive position.

Juliette's attitude toward morality was displayed by the fact that the "courage," which was maliciously celebrated by Nietzsche, captivated her so much that "to live dangerously" is her mission. Nietzsche said,

"There they enjoy freedom from any social constraint, and dally in the wilderness to compensate themselves for the tension brought about by long enclosure in the peaceful atmosphere of their society; they return to the guiltlessness of a predatory conscience, as exultant beasts who amble off after, say, a frightful sequence of murder, arson, rape, and torture, as if it were all no more than some student's prank, yet convinced that they have provided their bards with something to celebrate for ages to come...This courage displayed by superior races, which is outrageous, absurd, and sudden, the very incalculability and improbability of their enterprises...their indifference to and contempt for safety, body, life, comfort, their ghastly serenity and profound pleasure in all destruction and in all the debauchery of conquest and cruelty." Nietzsche's theory is that the weak are guilty, for they circumvent the natural law by means of cunning. (DE. pp. 97-98)

The notion of the Enlightenment becomes domination, and in justifying domination by the stronger, by the powerful, the enlightenment becomes the legitimate norm of immorality. The quintessence of the enlightenment movement is exposed naked when Horkheimer and Adorno quote and analyze the theories of the enlightened philosophers. According to the philosophers, violence, oppression, cruelties are just, the terrible beauty of deed; slavery and poverty is fault of the weak and it is wrong for him to defend himself; the criminal's repentance is senseless, and the pity for the victim is sin pure and simple; compassion is womanly and childish, and perverts the general law, therefore, apathy, calmness, insensibility, indifference, constitute the strength of virtue; Goodness and benevolence become sin, every original sin has given birth to an original virtue, so far and so forth.

Finally a sexually conditioned value judgment is revoked, the slavery of woman is glorified, and the core of love is attacked. As the philosophers claim it, the difference between man and woman is that between man and the apes in the wilderness, and the good grounds for denying women a title to be part of human being is as refusing to acknowledge the ape as brother; sexual love is in means war; and basically, the deadly hatred of the sexes; human parental love is economically founded; it is wholly advantageous to separate children from family; there are no rational objections against incest, so on and so forth.

d) Human pleasure:

"Nature does not feature enjoyment as such; natural pleasure does not go beyond the appeasement of need. All pleasure is social – in unsublimated no less than in sublimated emotions. It originates in alienation. Even when the enjoyment lacks any knowledge of the interdiction against which it offends, it owes its origin to civilization, to the fixed order from which it longs to return to nature, against which that very order protects it. Men sense the magic of enjoyment only in that dream which releases them from the pressure of work and the bond which joins the individual to a specific social function and, ultimately, to the self – that dream which leads back to a primeval era without masters and without discipline." (DE. p. 105.)

The roots of modern civilization lie in the notion of the Enlightenment. However, as the dialectic of the Enlightenment demonstrates that it has gone to the extreme and become its opposites, what it refers to are the unenlightening of the Enlightenment, the non-rational of rationalism, the unscientific of science, the non-humane rights of the human rights, the undemocratic of democracy, the anti-freedom or liberty of liberty and thus illiberal, the rigid, and conservatism, the unequal of equality, the slavery and liberation, God becoming defender of slavery. Along the line, what would the fate of modern civilization? Its evolution has thus so unfolded two pictures before us, the bright and gloomy are the two sides of the same coin of modern civilization. It is the mutually joint forces of dualisms in human thinking and the psychological incline to extremes that have driven the objectified individual wild in seeking his own happiness; that has resulted in two consequences, on the one hand, the almost unfettered human intelligent due to the liberation of the Enlightenment has created the unthinkable means, that is, science and technology, for materialistic happiness; one the other hand, the inconceivable damage and even devastation of humanity himself, including the possible mass destruction of his own population and the deterioration of the environment that is so vital to the continuity of his life as a whole. From a “dialectical” or correlative thinking perspective, the two sides of the coin are exactly the derivations of the extremist incline of the Enlightenment’s logic, which is, indeed, its logical misconception necessarily leading rationalism vs. superstition to rationalism of calculation, or the new superstition of rationality and calculation for maximizing private wealth, of science as means and instrument for the individual’s interest, and the absolutist claims of “human rights” and “democracy” as natural law and the core principle of individualism to protect the human nature’s insatiable desires to gain, increase, and maintain private property.

"Freedom," in the sense of Enlightenment, was substituted in an absolutist sense for the notion of "individualism," and to perform an "action out of one's own will or desire" became the ultimate goal. In this context, the individual accepted full responsibility for the final goal, and concepts such as "community," "society," and the "collective" became the new opposites from which the individual needed to seek emancipation. Science, which had originally been an instrument in the arsenal for freedom, now began to serve the interests of the individual as an instrument for satisfying his own particular desires. The freedom of the individual became the central axis of this new mode of civilization, and the immoral and amoral usurped the place of collective morality.


Indeed, modern civilization, predominantly characterized by an enormously rapid growth in science and technology, began to suffer a general process of decay that included these important aspects of its original rise and expansion, and it underwent a historical reversal of "ways to means" in which the collective requirements of the community were overridden by the self-directed desires of the individual. The advancement of technology and the mere acquisition of material things were the prizes to be won by the victor, and the price society was expected to pay for this dubious success was the spiritual degeneration of its members, the falling off of human relations, and the alienation of man and nature.

The record of the technological advancements that modern western society holds up to the world as the irrefutable evidence of its success in civilizing itself have resulted in collateral damage to other non-western civilizations which the west has maligned as technically "backward," scientifically "ignorant," and simply lazy. John Hobson critiques and deconstructs the west's Eurocentric version of world history and reconstructs in its place a new world history that sheds a restorative light on progressive role that the East has played in contributing to the rise of the modern world. Many non-western cultures have played an important part in the rise of the modern western civilization, including the Muslims, the Africans, and the Indians, but the Chinese have undoubtedly played the largest role. Hobson argues convincingly that the rise of the west and the breakthrough to modernity could not conceivably have come about without the help of the resourceful and timely inventions of the Chinese.

The historical construct that says that all rising civilizations must inevitably "clash" is inspired by the dualistic assumption of the "we" versus the "they." It is assumed that this "clashing" is the necessary result of differences; differences in history, differences in language, differences in culture, differences in tradition. This dualistic logic has led to unfortunate and inaccurate exaggerations. Indeed, all civilizations have evolved by following their own natural paths. Chinese civilization developed a distinctively correlative modality of thinking that may be termedtongbian, or "continuity through change." Intongbian, differences and similarities are merely polarities of correlativity and continuity, and are not necessarily the cause of duality and conflict. The idea of the "harmonious co-existence" of different civilizations occupying a single world acknowledges first their differences, and then seeks continuity through them.

The establishment of basic human living conditions and the cultivation of human development rely upon the harmonious coming-together of human beings, an agreement in which all must be satisfied in matters of propriety. In this respect, Confucian studies should expand its influence globally and engage in significant conversations with modern and postmodern thinkers in the west on the subject of globalization, a subject that is currently troubling mankind. The west needs to gain an accurate and an appreciative understanding of all things Chinese, but the Chinese also need to be lessoned in the strengths and weaknesses of western culture.

It is high time that an atmosphere of cultural understanding, mutual trust, and common respect reaches a global circumference and that it becomes automatic in both thinking and practice. This condition is absolutely necessary to the harmonious co-existence of civilizations on this planet, and it begins with our reflection on the distinctive differences between cultures. Indeed, mutual understanding must begin with the mutual recognition and appreciation of cultural difference.

Cultural trust must be built on the foundation of cultural understanding. In 1980 UNESCO made the historic proclamation: "Many Voices, One World," and China should share in this call for a universal celebration of cultural diversity by making effort to help build mutual trust mechanisms in the United Nations. Such trust mechanisms would go a long way to lessening cultural misunderstandings, to repairing historical conflicts, and to easing persistent suspicions, thus helping to build mutual trust and consensus. If these trust mechanisms were given fair play in the United Nations, they could very easily play an important role in promoting democratic reform in international politics.

The United Nations must continue to be a representative, responsible, and authoritative international organization. Even though the UN may have had its share public embarrassments, when all is said and done, this international organization has served for many decades as the only meeting place in which an overwhelming number of the world's nations can assemble peacefully and attempt to negotiate matters of common interest. The United Nations deserves the respect and the cooperation of all of the nations of the world, both large and small, and it ought to continue to fulfill its original mandate as the bastion of freedom and democratic principles. In "One World" divided by so "Many Voices," so many discordant voices, the United Nations may very well be the world's best, perhaps its only hope for a harmonious future.

Roger T· Ames (Roger T.Ames)

Roger T. Ames was born in 1947 in Toronto, Canada. As a professor at the University of Hawaii, an advisor to Nishan Shengyuan Academy, Chairman of the World Association of Confucian Culture Studies and Vice Chairman of the International Confucian Association, he is an internationally famous expert in Sinology. He is a leading figure in Chinese & Western philosophy and is famous in China and abroad for his translation of books such as theAnalects of Confucius,Sun Tzu’s Art of War,Huainan Tzu andTao Te Ching He was the Chief Editor toPhilosophy of the Occident and Orientas well as theInternational Chinese Book Reviewand the author ofConfucian Philosophical Thinking,Thinking from the Han: Self, Truth, and Transcendence in Chinese and Western Culture,Anticipating China: Thinking Through the Narratives of Chinese and Western Culture,the Art of Rulership: A Study into Chinese Political ThoughtandDemocracy if the Dead: Dewey, Confucius and the Hope for Democracy in China. Roger T. Ames once received the guidance of Liu Dianjue and became proficient in classical Chinese, then to one of the most outstanding modern scholars of Classical Studies. In 2013, he was awarded the "Confucius Culture Award" by the 6th World Confucian Congress. Then he won the second "Huilin Prize Award" in 2016.…
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