15
八月

傑英話中華(前篇)

作者 : 雅帆   在 國際視野 A Global View

雅帆在網誌69〈傑英話中華〉介紹當代傑出歷史學家和漢學家余英時,提及他於2006年12月5日,獲得美國國會圖書館 (Library of Congress) 頒發素有人文學科諾貝爾獎之稱的「克魯格人文與社會科學終身成就獎」(Kluge Prize rewards lifetime achievement),以表彰其學術成就。

余英時在頒獎儀式上演講,題為《我對中國文化與歷史的追索》,講辭內容較學術性,卻言簡意深,並能提綱挈領地剖析了研究及發展中國文化與歷史的關鍵重點。他闡析研究中國歷史的方法說:

“在本質上把中國文化傳統視為固有起源和獨立生長的前提下,我在過去幾十年裏嘗試沿著兩條主要線索來研究中國歷史。第一,中國文化必須按其自身的邏輯並同時從比較的角度來加以理解。所謂「比較的角度」,我指的是在早期中華帝國時代的印度佛教,和十六世紀以來的西方文化。毋須贅言,十九世紀中國與西方的第二次相遇是震撼世界的歷史性事件。從二十世紀初開始,中國人的思想在很大程度上專注於中西相對的問題。僅僅用自身的邏輯而沒有比較的角度來解釋中國的過去,無疑會有掉入簡單的中國中心主義之古老窠臼的危險。

第二,在我對從古代到二十世紀的中國思想史、社會史和文化史的研究中,我總是將焦點放在歷史階段的轉變時期。無論是軸心時代以前,還是軸心時代及其以後,中國與其他文明相比,其悠久歷史的延續性尤其顯著。但是,在中國歷史的演進中,延續與變化是始終並存的。因此,我使自己的研究設定在兩個目標,首先是弄清楚中國歷史上重要的思想、社會和文化變遷,其次是儘可能辨識中國歷史變遷的獨特模式。中國歷史上這些意義深遠的變遷常常超出了朝代更替的意義。雖然「朝代循環」的觀念長期被傳統中國所奉行,而且短時間內也在西方流行,但這是個很誤導的觀念。二十世紀初期,中國的歷史學家以其日本同行為榜樣,開始按照西方的歷史模式重新建構和重新解釋中國歷史。此後便通常認為,中國一定曾經歷過和西方歷史相似的發展階段。在二十世紀前半期,中國的歷史學家採用早期歐洲的斷代模式,將中國歷史分為古代史、中世紀和近現代;一九四九年之後,則以馬克斯 — 史達林主義者的五階段論取而代之。後者在今日中國仍為正統,即便在實際的研究中不總是這樣,至少在理論上仍是如此。這種削足適履的方法,無論它有甚麼其他的優點,不可能對作為一種固有傳統的中國文化作出完全合理的評估。我確信,祇有通過關注中國歷史變遷的獨特過程與方式,我們才有可能更清晰地看到這個偉大的文化傳統是如何在其內在活力的推動下(這種活力雖不是唯一的因素,卻是主要的因素),從一個階段走向另一個階段。”

余英時亦解釋中國的「道」對中國文化和文明的重要性:

“孔子時代中國的原創超越的一個結果是出現了最重要的「道」的觀念,它是相對於日常生活的現實世界的超現實世界的一個象徵。但是,中國這個「道」的超越世界從開始便被認為是與日常生活的現實世界彼此相關的,這與處於軸心突破中的其他古文化迥然不同。……「道」雖是隱藏的,但在人的世界中卻無處不發生作用,即便是祇有普通理解力的男女在其日常生活也能或多或少地體會並實踐它。的確,軸心時代的原創觀念,尤其是儒家與道家的觀念,對於此後許多世紀的中國人的生活產生了日漸增長和日漸深刻的影響,因此,認為「道」與歷史構成了中國文明的內核與外形,並不誇張。”

“如果歷史是一種指引,那麼中西文化之間在基本價值上似乎存在著大量重疊的共識。中國的「道」畢竟就是對共同人道和人類尊嚴的承認。我比以往任何時候都更堅信,一旦中國文化回到「道」的主流,中國相對的一系列問題也將隨之而終結。”

余英時根據自己的經驗,分析如何解決中西文化相對的問題:

“…… 作為兩個不同的價值系統,在歷史的視野裏中國文化是如何與西方文化相對照的?剛才提到,我最初接觸這個問題是在一九四○年代後期,那時中西相對的一系列問題支配了整個中國思想界。此後,這些問題從來沒有在我的意識之外。我在美國生活已達半個世紀,當我時常在兩個文化之間游移時,這些問題對我來說已經具有了一種真實的存在意義。經過一些最初的心理調適,我早已能在接受美國的生活方式的同時保留我的中國文化認同。然而,中國文化是否能和西方的核心價值相容,我們最好的導引還是來自於中國歷史來身。”

該講辭能啟發對中國歷史與文化研究的反思,具閱讀價值,全文的中文譯本,收錄在《知識人與中國文化的價值》一書,余英時著,時報出版。原文的英文版本,刊載於美國國會圖書館網頁,網址是:
http://www.loc.gov/today/pr/2006/06-A07.html

現將英文原文錄述如下,方便讀者參閱:

Address of Yu Ying-shih on the Occasion of Receiving the John W. Kluge Prize at the Library of Congress

I feel enormously honored to be a co-recipient of the John W. Kluge Prize in 2006, for which I am grateful. After much reflection, however, I have come to the realization that the main justification for my presence here today is that both the Chinese cultural tradition and Chinese intellectual history as a discipline are being honored through me. The former has been the subject of my lifetime scholarly pursuit, and the latter my chosen field of specialization.

When I first became seriously interested in the study of Chinese history and culture in the 1940s, the Chinese historical mind happened to be cast in a positivistic and anti-traditionalistic mold. The whole Chinese past was viewed negatively, and whatever appeared to be uniquely Chinese was interpreted as a deviation from the universal norm of progress of civilization as exemplified in the historical development of the West. As a result, studies of aspects of the Chinese cultural tradition, from philosophy, law, religion to literature and art, often amounted to condemnation and indictment. Needless to say, I was at a complete loss as to the Chinese cultural identity and, for that matter, also my personal identity. It was my good fortune that I was able to finish my college education in Hong Kong and pursued my graduate studies in the United States, now my adopted country.

As my intellectual horizon gradually widened over the years, the truth was beginning to dawn on me that Chinese culture must be clearly recognized as an indigenous tradition with characteristics distinctly its own. The crystallization of Chinese culture into its definitive shape took place in the time of Confucius (551-479 B.C.E.), a crucial moment in the ancient world better known in the West as the Axial Age. During this period, it has been observed, a spiritual awakening or “breakthrough" occurred in several highly-developed cultures including China, India, Persia, Israel and Greece. It took the form of either philosophical reasoning or post-mythical religious imagination or, as in the case of China, a mixed type of moral-philosophic-religious consciousness. The awakening led directly to the emergence of the dichotomy between the actual world and the world beyond. The world beyond as a new vision provided the thinking individuals, be they philosophers, prophets or sages, with the necessary transcending point from which the actual world could be examined and questioned, critically as well as reflectively. This is generally known as the original transcendence of the Axial Age, of which the exact shape, empirical content and historical process varied from culture to culture. The transcendence is original in the sense that it would exert a long-lasting, shaping influence on the cultures involved.

As a result of the Chinese original transcendence in the time of Confucius, the all-important idea of Tao (Way) emerged as a symbol of the world beyond vis-a-vis the actual world of everyday life. But the Chinese transcendental world of Tao and the actual world of everyday life were conceived from the very beginning to be related to each other in a way different from other ancient cultures undergoing the Axial breakthrough. For example, there is nothing in the early Chinese philosophical visions that suggests Plato’s conception of an unseen eternal world of which the actual world is only a pale copy. In the religious tradition, the sharp dichotomy of a Christian type between the world of God and the world of humans is also absent. Nor do we find in classical Chinese thought in all its varieties anything that closely resembles the radical negativity of early Buddhism with its insistence on the unrealness and worthlessness of this world. By contrast, the world of Tao was not perceived as very far from the human world. As best expressed by Confucius, “The Tao is not far from man. When a man pursues the Tao and remains away from man, his course cannot be considered the Tao." I must hasten to add, however, that the notion of Tao was not the monopoly of Confucius and his followers but shared by all the major thinkers in the Chinese Axial Age, including Lao Tzu, Mo Tzu and Chuang Tzu. It was their common belief that Tao is hidden and yet functions everywhere in the human world; even men and women of simple intelligence can know and practice it in everyday life to a larger or lesser degree. Indeed, judging from the ever-growing and ever-deepening influences of the ideas originating in the Axial Age, especially Confucian and Taoist ideas, on all aspects of Chinese life down through the centuries, it may not be too much an exaggeration to suggest that Tao and history constitute the inside and the outside of Chinese civilization.

Taking the Chinese cultural tradition to be essentially one of indigenous origin and independent growth, I have tried over the decades to study Chinese history along two main lines. First, Chinese culture must be understood in its own terms but at the time also in a comparative perspective. By “comparative perspective" I refer to both Indian Buddhism in the early imperial period and Western culture since the 16th century. Needless to say, China’s second encounter with the West in the 19th century was a historical event of world-shaking magnitude. Since the beginning of the 20th century, the Chinese mind has been largely preoccupied with the problematique of China-versus-the-West. To interpret the Chinese past solely in its own terms without a comparative perspective would surely run the risk of falling into the age-old trap of simple-minded sinocentrism.

Second, in my study of Chinese intellectual, social and cultural history, from classical antiquity to the 20th century, my focus has always been placed on periods of change when one historical stage moved to the next. Compared to other civilizations, China’s is particularly marked by its long historical continuity before, during and since the Axial Age. But continuity and change went hand-in-hand in Chinese history. Therefore, the purpose I have set myself is twofold: firstly, to identify the major intellectual, social and culture changes in the Chinese past and, secondly, to discern if at all possible the unique pattern of Chinese historical changes. More often than not, such broad and profound changes in Chinese history transcended the rise and fall of dynasties. Thus the notion of “dynastic cycle," long held in traditional China but also briefly in vogue in the West, is highly misleading. In the early years of the 20th century, Chinese historians, following the example of their Japanese colleagues, began to reconstruct and re-interpret the Chinese past according to the historical model of the West. Since then it has been generally assumed that China must have undergone similar stages of historical development as shown in European history. In the first half of the 20th century, Chinese historians adopted the earlier European schemes of periodization by dividing Chinese history into ancient, medieval and modern periods, which has been replaced since 1949 by the Marxist-Stalinist five-stage formulation. The latter remains the orthodoxy in China up to this day, at least in theory if not always in actual practice. This Procrustean approach, whatever merits it may otherwise have, cannot possibly do full justice to Chinese culture as an indigenous tradition. Only by focusing on the unique course and shape of Chinese historical changes, I am convinced, can we hope to see more clearly how that great cultural tradition moved from stage to stage driven, mainly if not entirely, by its internal dynamics.

Now let me turn to the question of how, as two different systems of values, does Chinese culture stand vis-a-vis Western culture in historical perspective? My earliest exposure to this question occurred in the late 1940s when the problematique of China-versus-the-West, mentioned earlier, dominated the Chinese intellectual world. It has not been out of my consciousness ever since. Living in the United States for half a century, the question has acquired a truly existential meaning for my life as I move between the two cultures from moment to moment. With some initial psychological readjustments, I have long been able to enjoy the American way of life while still retaining my Chinese cultural identity. However, the best guide with regard to whether Chinese culture is compatible with the core values of the West can only be provided by Chinese history.

China first encountered the modern West at the end of the 16th century when the Jesuits came to East Asia to do their missionary work. The culturally sensitive Matteo Ricci, who arrived in China in 1583, was very quick to discover that the Chinese religious atmosphere at that time was highly tolerant; Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism were generally regarded as one and same thing. As a matter of fact, under the influence of Wang Yang-ming (1472-1529), late Ming Confucians firmly believed that each of the three religions in China captured a vision of the same Tao (Way). It was this spirit of religious tolerance that accounted for Ricci’s extraordinary success in his conversion of many leading members of the Confucian elite, notably Hsü Kuang-ch’i (1562-1633), Li Chih-tsao (1565-1630) and Yang T’ing-yün (1557-1627), the “three pillars of evangelization." The Confucian faith in the sameness of human mind and the universal accessibility of Tao to every human person anywhere led some Chinese converts to promote a synthesis of Christianity with Confucianism. The Chinese Tao was now further expanded to include Christianity. This early relationship between China and the West at the religious level can by no means be described as a conflictual one.

In the late 19th century, it was also the open-minded Confucians who enthusiastically embraced values and ideas dominant in the modern West such as democracy, liberty, equality, rule of law, autonomy of the individual person and, above all, human rights. When some of them visited Europe or America for the first time and stayed there long enough to make first-hand observations, they were all deeply impressed, first of all, by the ideals and institutions of Western constitutional democracy. Wang T’ao (1828-1897), who assisted James Legge in his English translation of Confucian classics, returned to Hong Kong from England in 1870 praising her political and legal systems to the sky. He was probably the first Confucian scholar to use the term “democracy" in Chinese (min-chu). Wang exerted a considerable influence on Confucian political thinking in the late Ch’ing. At the turn of the century, there were two rival Confucian schools in China known as the New Text and Old Text, respectively. Both advocated democracy, though each in its own way. The former was in favor of constitutional monarchy, while the latter pushed for republicanism. Perhaps inspired by Wang T’ao, who compared the British political and judicial systems favorably to China’s Golden Age as described in Confucian classics, both Confucian schools began a systematic search for the origins and evolution of democratic ideas in early Confucian texts. In so doing, it is clear that they took the compatibility between Chinese culture and Western culture as two systems of values for granted.

Last but not least, I wish to say a word about “human rights." Like “democracy," “human rights" as a term is linguistically specific to the West and nonexistent in traditional Confucian discourse. However, if we agree that the concept of “human rights" as defined in the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of 1948 is predicated on the double recognition of a common humanity and human dignity, then we are also justified to speak of a Confucian idea of “human rights" without the Western terminology. Recognition of a common humanity and respect for human dignity are both clearly articulated in the Analects, Mencius and other early texts. It is remarkable that by the first century C.E. at the latest, the Confucian notion of human dignity was openly referred to in imperial decrees as sufficient grounds for the prohibition of the sale or killing of slaves. Both imperial decrees, dated 9 and 35 C.E., respectively, cited the same famous Confucian dictum: “Of all living things produced by Heaven and Earth, the human person is the noblest." Slavery as an institution was never accepted by Confucianism as legitimate. It was this Confucian humanism that predisposed late Ch’ing Confucians to be so readily appreciative of the Western theory and practice of human rights.

If history is any guide, then there seems to be a great deal of overlapping consensus in basic values between Chinese culture and Western culture. After all, recognition of common humanity and human dignity is what the Chinese Tao has been about. I am more convinced than ever that once Chinese culture returns to the main flow of Tao, the problematique of China-versus-the-West will also come to an end.

Princeton University
December 1, 2006

備註:本文引述講辭的英文原文,來自美國國會圖書館網頁;中文譯文則取材自《知識人與中國文化的價值》一書,謹此鳴謝。

這篇文章發表 於 星期六, 八月 15th, 2009 9:21 上午 在 國際視野 A Global View. 你可以回應這篇文章透過 RSS 2.0 feed. 你可以 留下回覆, 或 引用 從你的個人網站.

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