A Dialogue on Chinese Culture among Four Noted Scholars

Edited from Text on Guangming Forum     
Wang Ronghua

Uniqueness, Chinese Civilization has never been broken

Feng Qiyong (∑Ž∆š”Ļ£©


Born in Feb. 1924. Professor of People’s University, a wellknown scholar on studies of°∂Dream of the Red Mansion°∑,author of more than 20 books.

We are at a time of “big cultural discovery”. In 1994£¨ experts discovered in Hong Kong some bamboo slips, which contained Confucius’s comments on poetry. This is a great discovery, none of us know about it, we only know °∂¬Ř”Ô°∑--Analects of Confucius, we now know there is “Confucius on Poetry” as well. Ever since the founding of the People’s Republic, there has been new discoveries each year as far as archaeology is concerned.
Li Xueqin (ņÓ—ß«ŕ£©

Born in 1933 in Beijing. Professor of Qinghua University, head of task force of “Defining Dates of Xia, Shang and Zhou Dynasties”.

The last two decades saw some shocking archaeological discoveries. We have accumulated material unknown to the past for studies of the origin of our civilization. It is very necessary to study and explore the origin of Chinese civilization with new methods, and the conditions for doing so is ripe.
Feng Qiyong: Chinese civilization has never been broken up, which is rare in the world. There were civilizations as early, but they broke up, and their languages were not passed on. Chinese language first appeared on oracle bones. The first appearance of the characters should be earlier, for on the ancient pottery discovered at Juxian County of Shandong, there are semi-picture and semi-characters signs on them;
there is also a kind of language on the findings from Daxikou Culture at the mouth of Changjiang. Judging from excavated cultural relics,the Chinese civilization should be traced back to 8,000 years rather than 5,000. I presume there was Xia language in the Xia Dynasty before inscriptions on oracle bones.
Li Xueqin: One distinguishing feature of Chinese civilization is its continuity, ancient Egypt was one of the earlier civilizations, yet, as far as race and culture are concerned, there is little similarity in today’s Egypt. In the old Two Rivers (Tigris and Euphrates) region, the ancient countries like Sumeria, Akkadia, Babylonia and Assyria have little to do with today’s Iraq. Civilizations of these countries ceased at a very early time. Even Greece and Roma whose civilization rose up later also broke up, that’s why there was the need for Renaissance. Chinese civilization managed to continue despite of changes of dynasties, and this is very unique in the world.Inherit the Essence of Chinese Cultural Legacy
Feng Qiyong: I am opposed to the idea that Confucius, Mencius, and the School of Cheng and Zhu are every thing in our traditional culture. Our country has been a country of multi-nationalities, the earlier culture was not only that of Han. Every nationality has contributed its bit for the Chinese culture, some nationalities also have a long history in culture. Some nationalities are small, yet their culture are very distinctive.

Ren Jiyue: Born in 1916 in Shandong, professor of Beijing University, President of China Association of Religions,President of Society of Philosophy Histories.

Ren Jiyue: Chinese culture has been pluralistic in form, and continuously enriched and developed. Some hold that the following four are the basic spirits of Chinese culture: convergence of heaven and man, the concept of “people the foremost”, be strong and rely on oneself, taking harmony as the most precious. I personally think “embracing change” is the essence of Chinese culture, which accepts change first, and then digest it, absorb it, and finally develop it. Lu Di, born in 1931 in Liaoyang, Professor of Literature at Beijing University.

Lu Di: Mao Zedong is a fine example in inheriting Chinese culture. After he had eye problem, I was chosen to reed aloud books for him for 4 months from May to September of 1975.  He had a profound knowledge of and was very familiar with our history, his thoughts are deeply rooted in Chinese culture. He thought of many major issues from historical and cultural perspective. His memory was amazing, once he recited a paragraph from °∂Stories of the West Chamber°∑ which was as long as several hundred words, I was really taken aback. He pointed out one of my mistake in giving notes to selected writings of dynasties, of which I was one of the compilers. He held independent views on ancient poets such as Ruan Ji and Ji Kang.