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“Neo-World”6: “Culture as Reflected in Chinese Intellectual History”

 | Post date: 2023/04/17 | 

The sixth meeting of the "Neo-World" series on the future of the world, culture, science, and technology was held on Sunday, 16th April 2023, at the Institue for Cultural and Social Studies under the title of "Culture as Reflected in Chinese Intellectual History."
The meeting was held with the participation of Dr. Peter K. Bol, Professor of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at Harvard University, as a keynote speaker, who participated virtually in the discussion.
Dr. Mohammad Hoseini Moghadam, an Assistant Professor at the Institute for Humanities and Cultural Studies (IHCS), was the other speaker at the meeting.
Dr. Leila Khadem Makhsuos Hosseini, Post-Doctoral Researcher at MGIMO University, was also the secretary of the meeting. (The entire session is available at:  watch on youtube

Dr. K. Bol explained the rationalities and cultural discourse behind China's rise as a significant scientific-technological power and, thereby, an economic superpower and how they overlap or differ from modern Western cultural addresses and rationalities. In this event, it was explained that the scientific establishment of China has ruptured from its tradition. 
In contemporary China, science and technology have been influenced by Western science. There is no specific feature unique to Chinese science and tech that differs from the West. However, China's rise to superpower owes to its magnificent tradition in two terms: 1. Tremendous governmental investment: The fund invested in technology and scientific research is high. Such national commitment taken by China's government is based on their national tradition. 2. tradition of education and tremendous emphasis on education: Strong focus on education goes back to tradition because education has been a tradition. Education is the only way to obtain a political position.
Dr. Hosseini answered a question about the unique features of Chinese science and technology that distinguish it from the Western flow of science and technology.
He said, "There are a few noteworthy messages which we can learn from science and technology development experiences in China," such as future orientation thinking, realism which is a focus on factual matters in advancing the goals of science and technology and has deep roots in Chinese culture and philosophy, practice-oriented approach to science, the idea of the "China Path," its emphasis on nationalism, and international cooperation.
The other issue addressed at the event was China's concern about Western influence.
Professor Bol maintained that the Chinese view of the world outside has two sides. Since the 19th, foreign countries have influenced the country, so we must be open to the world. The world outside China, while welcomed, is also regarded as a threat that is considered to undermine China's leadership. However, in general, openness to the world dominates China today.
China's potential for leadership was also discussed. It is concluded that China, in light of its magnificent civilization, has led the world in the past and has the potential to lead in the future. Traditionally it provided a model because other countries, like Japan and Korea, needed to learn from them as wealthy and well-educated. One tradition of China which has been continuous is the Centralized bureaucratic system which has proved effective in China. One of the reasons that China, rather than Russia, is a threat to the hegemony of the US is the ideological background of the Chinese model. Chinese political model is meritocratic. 
Meritocracy, a distinctively Chinese political model rooted in Chinese civilization, is their alternative to Western democracy and individual rights. That governs the country not by generally elected political leaders but by well-educated political elites caring for people.
Chinese Institute of Confucianism was a culture of language teaching. Today the Chinese language has become one of the most widespread languages. The question is will the Chinese language be a global language? Or there will be a world with major languages. 
Dr. Hosseini talked about the influence of Western norms or humanities on China's Universities and China's concern about it and said there is a growing interest in developing Western humanities in Chinese universities. However, the development of Western humanities in Chinese universities is not without controversy. Some critics argue that the emphasis on Western ideas and values is leading to a decline in the study of traditional Chinese culture and values. This is a threat to China's national identity and cultural heritage.There are also concerns about the influence of Western ideas on Chinese society, particularly in areas such as politics and social values.
He continued: I would like to emphasize that China is taking active steps to supply its cultural achievements in the field of humanities, in line with Adam Smith's law of supply and demand. This effort can be seen as a manifestation of China's soft power and the internationalization of its values. China is working to enhance its influence on the world stage and shape the global discourse on these subjects by sharing its rich cultural heritage and promoting its unique perspective on humanities.
Dr. Hosseini, among other things, discussed Iran and China's bilateral relations in different areas of science, technology, politics, and economy. He believes China can be a model for Iran in addressing various domestic problems. Moreover, he believes China can be a bridge facilitating Iran and other countries relationship.
Dr. Hosseini also said, "China and Iran share deep civilizational roots that go back to ancient times. Both countries have made significant contributions to the development of human civilization, particularly in science, art, and philosophy. The possibility of collaboration and coalition between China and Iran in these areas is feasible and could lead to positive outcomes for both nations and the world at large."
He continued: "In recent years, China and Iran have been actively engaged in bilateral relations, particularly in trade and economic cooperation. China is Iran's largest trading partner, and the two countries have signed several agreements to boost economic ties." 
"China and Iran have made significant contributions to human knowledge in science and technology. China has made significant strides in artificial intelligence, space exploration, and biotechnology, while Iran has significantly contributed to basic science, engineering, and medicine. Collaboration and exchange could lead to substantial breakthroughs and innovations", Hosseini said.
He added: "Furthermore, China and Iran could collaborate on environmental protection and sustainable development issues, given their shared concern for preserving natural resources and sustainable growth. The two countries could also work together to promote greater cultural understanding and exchange between the East and West, helping to bridge the gap between different civilizations and encourage greater global harmony and cooperation."

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