Tu Weiming — Chinese Statecraft, Confucian Humanism, and the Ethic of Responsibility
by Thorsten Pattberg
This is a transcript of a public lecture held by Profess Tu Weiming of The Institute for Advanced Humanistic Studies (IAHS) at Stanford University on Feb 21st 2012.
The Confucian zheng rendered as “politics,” zhengzhi in Modern Chinese, is defined as “rectification,” also the character zh eng. It means to rectify the status quo so that it becomes correct. The assumption is that the right people, right institutions, and right ideas are defining characteristics of right politics.
The junzi, or sometimes rendered as the shi junzi, the functional equivalent of what I want to argue is the modern idea of the intellectual, are considered the right people to rule. The junzi in this sense is very different from the Greek idea of the philosopher, the Judaic rabbi, the Hindu guru, the Christian priest, the Buddhist monk, or even the Islamic ulama.
Even though an intellectual in that sense carries functions comparable to them, as exemplar, as a knowledgeable person, as a wise person, and also as a person endowed with some spiritual exercise. This idea, the modern idea of the intellectual, of course is from the Russian notion of a member of the ‘intelligentsia,’ but in the Russian tradition it is very clear that anyone who is an intellectual is definitely a critic of not only the government but the establishment. So (Andrei) Sakharov was an intellectual, but (Mikhail) Gorbachev will never become an intellectual in terms of that definition. Modern Chinese have been deeply under the influence of this idea. [“]