Transcript for ‘Rise of the Junzi’ (feat. T Pattberg, PKU, IAHS)
Peking University (PKU) is the mother lode of Chinese education, and Confucianism (rujia) wants to cultivate the ‘junzi’ – the ideal scholar. At the Institute for Advanced Humanistic Studies, Pattberg explains how an old tradition is on the march again. [Published on Jun 12, 2013]
1 Act: Living in The Institute for Advanced Humanistic Studies (IAHS) at Peking University
Good morning! This is Thorsten.
I am German, and I have “occupied”
The Institute for Advanced Humanistic Studies
at Peking University.
This is the heart of Confucianism in China.
And I explain that… in a minute.
It’s a pretty nice room
and this is… my little office.
We have to bring our own laptops to work;
that’s very normal in China.
The bosses try
to save money for the business trips.
It’s actually here where I wrote the essays
on ‘Shengren’ and ‘Language Imperialism,’
and ‘The End of Translation,’ ‘The Coming of
which are, I think, very influential.
So, this is where I sleep.
I have the privilege to have it
‘zero’ minutes to work every day.
This place is simply amazing.
There is a door; we go there in a minute.
There’s a little corner
You see all these other places;
they are supposed to be for researchers,
postdocs and docs,
but they never come.
I mean, why would they?
There is no payment here; they are not paid.
‘Low people’ don’t get paid
in China at all, as you know.
They work because it’s on honor for them
to work for Peking University,
or for places like this or high professors.
It’s a privilege for them
and they don’t need much money.
So let’s go out here.
2. Act: The Basic Principles of Chinese Academic Existence
You see some cleaning people.
It’s cleaned every day, although there
is no people here.
And they never are here, actually.
There is some office staff
during the week; they will come:
party officials, secretaries,
but NOT the professors.
They only come here to
take their money
and they’ll leave
because they are employed elsewhere as well;
is is very common in China, too.
Here’s a kitchen, by the way.
In China it is very common
to have different positions
at different universities, for example,
and you only show up
to get your little salary and
then you disappear again.
And, they also employ their
family members, as you know.
This is very common
in Chinese society.
There is a second floor, actually,
and we would love to use
the facilities, but we cannot;
it’s “empty” as well;
it’s a World Heritage Institute
and there are never any people here.
But, you know, as long as the money flows…
Someone got paid for this, so
they can’t take it down;
can’t close it, or move it.
So… in the back we have a nice…
here we call it ‘WC.’
It is always clean.
You see: The cleaning ladies.
And there is a little library here
with the collection of our director.
No one else’s books can be here.|
It’s closed, actually.
And there is a door to the back yard
which I could use now, BUT
I don’t need because I have the main key.
Let’s go quickly back.
So, these are the guards.
They are not our institute,
but they are from Beida.
There’s coming an office lady:
3. Act: Peking University: The Institute, the Garden, The Lake Without Name
Ok, it has rained
but look at this!
It looks like an enchanted forest.
We are in the middle of Peking University
and it has some of the most beautiful
sceneries in any universities, I think.
And that over there in the background:
this is the Boya Ta.
This is the symbol of Peking University
and you will see it
on any postcards, any reports.
And this here, the house I just left,
this is The Institute for Advanced
Humanistic Studies of Peking University,
the very heart of Confucianism;
at this moment, of academic
If we go just a few meters
I will show you the famous
‘Lake without a name.’
It is very close by.
Let me use the time to explain
to you some key concepts
of Chinese Confucianism.
‘Confucianism’ is not the Chinese name.
It is a name given by the European
Missionaries, when they “discovered’
China, so to speak.
They were looking for a messiah figure
like Jesus Christ was for Christianity;
and they found it in Kongzi.
So, naturally for them,
they named Kongzi’s religion “Confucianism.”
But in China, Confucianism
is called “Rujia.”
Names are important, aren’t they?
If you get the translations wrong,
they will mislead
and distort the reality.
The Chinese believe in ‘relationship:’
between man and man, man and his family,
and to his superiors,
and then to society at large,
and to the country, and, of course,
to the universe at whole.
It is a very pragmatic society;
they don’t have any ‘God’ in that equation
which is nice
for a change.
You see, this is the beginning
of Weiming Hu;
this here is a little pond;
they have goldfish here
and quite a few turtles.
It’s beautiful, isn’t it?
It’s very spiritual.
Peking University is the
mother lode of Chinese education.
So the Chinese who made it here;
they have sweated a lot in school.
They are usually the best;
only one out of each school
can attend universities like this,
like Beida, or Tsinghua university
which is across the street, basically.
There are 168 universities
in this district: Haidian
in the north-west of Beijing.
Ok, back to Confucianism:
4. Act: The Rise of the Junzi
They believe that Confucianism
Junzi is a kind of superior personality
And it’s close to becoming
a ‘shengren’ – a sage.
But of course that’s quite unattainable.
So we have to put up with the junzi.
The junzi is a moral man;
he has higher morals, higher standard,
He is a kind person,
he is “shanliang;”
he talks to everyone
-it’s a dialogical civilization;
and he cares for the people:
He treats them as if they were family.
This is the Weiming Hu, the famous one.
This campus is huge.
We actually haven’t seen any buildings so far.
A lot of famous people – thinkers,
philosophers, statesmen – walked here
around the lake:
Mao Zedong, Hu Shi, Ji Xianlin.
The junzi is also a man who can live in relative poverty.
That explains a lot in Chinese academia:
People aren’t paid very well,
this is an “open” secret.
So the academics, like most
public employees in China,
if you think about it, earn at most
30-40% of the money
they would need to fulfill their duty,
to have a decent life-style,
and to raise a family, and all that.
So, the rest of the money they need
they have to earn through various means
and through hidden perks.
And they are very good at it.