Comparing East and West: Lofty Pragmatism, Confucian Love for Learning, and A New Humanism (Peking University)

Thorsten Pattberg, The Institute for Advanced Humanistic Studies (IAHS) at Peking University (PKU)

Comparing East and West: Lofty Pragmatism, Confucian Love for Learning, and A New Humanism (Peking University)

Talk at Peking University, July 13, 2013

 Topic: “The East is a career,” reads the quote by Benjamin Disraeli in the preamble of Edward Said’s 1978 masterpiece Orientalism. Since Deng Xiaoping’s opening-up policy, millions of European entrepreneurs, scholars and adventurers have swarmed eastward and flocked into China. They got their careers, now they want a promotion. Here’s how…


“China once dismissed European knowledge, and paid a heavy price for such ignorance. Now it is Europe that is completely rejecting even the possibility of a China knowledge. This could end just as badly.”

“Everyone knows that we couldn’t possibly have experienced both histories at the same time. Europe experienced only half of the human story. The Europeans can revisit documents, but nothing can remedy their lack of experience when it comes to China’s history.”

“Let me conclude with two things that I see when I look at China: creativity and potential. China experienced different histories and invented original concepts –  like wenming, daxue, shengren, junzi, and so on – that we don’t have in the west, and the Chinese do things here differently than we do, say, in Berlin or London.”

“All this is important for the future world of ideas, for global language, for our classrooms. It is essential that Europe learns more about China, so that we can make the world a brighter place.”

Key Words: Lofty pragmatism, secularization, Brussels, Chinese technocrats, Harmonious Society, Wenming, Three-Tier School System, Filial Piety Xiao, New Humanism, Untranslatable, China Family System, Peking University, Gu Zhengkun, IAHS, World Ethics Institute Beijing WEIB, Dr Pei Desi, German Confucianism, IACSCW, Global Language, Sino-German Relations, DAAD in China


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