The Newest Mandarins – Annping Chin

In the New York Times Magazine, Yale University History professor Annping Chin writes about contemporary interpretations of the classics in China:

ChinScores of men and women in China’s business world today are studying their country’s classical texts, not just “The Art of War,” but also early works from the Confucian and the Daoist canon. On weekends, they gather at major universities, paying tens of thousands of yuan each, to learn from prominent professors of philosophy and literature, to read and think in ways they could not when they were students and the classics were the objects of Maoist harangue. Those inside and outside China say that these businessmen and -women, like most Chinese right now, have caught the “fever of national learning.”

Scholars, however, are cautious. They revel in the possibility of being able to study the classical texts without an ideological tether. But they warn that this kind of learning cannot be rushed and does not lend itself to easy adaptation. The classics are not simply primers on how to succeed or lessons in the glory of the Chinese nation. Having survived the ravages of the Maoist era, when Confucius’ call to “revive the spirit and the practice of the earlier rites” was derided as “an attempt to reverse the course of history,” the classics must not lose their distinction in the hullabaloo of the market economy or under the pressure of globalization. [Full text]

Read also comments on the article from the Useless Tree blog.

[Image via the New York Times]

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