SENTENTIA. European Journal of Humanities and Social SciencesReference:
The Formation of national idea of Chinese environmental culture
Abstract.The article explores the formation of new environmental culture that promotes positive spiritual transformation of a person. The analysis of Chinese environmental culture demonstrates that in the center of environmental-ethical system of Confucianism is the social man, successor of the environmentally ethical behavior. China’s future is impossible without sustainable development of the society, where positive environmental imperatives play a substantial role. The paper describes the role of the Chinese leadership in formation of the new radical and global policy that imposes new demands upon social thinking, problems of environmental development of society, and new environmental strategy. The acquired results and data indicate that the problem of overcoming environmental crisis can be resolved through the formation of environmental culture, since it absorbs all material and spiritual values created by man in the process of socio-natural interactions.
Keywords: ecological traditions, ecological unity, socio-natural interaction, ecological imperative, ecological culture, environmental development, ecological principles, Confucianism, eco-ethical system, ecological crisis
The harmonious future of any country is impossible without the ecological culture society as a specific way to optimize the activities of people, with the goal of harmonizing the relationship of man and society with nature .
The diversity and richness of ecological culture requires a deep and comprehensive research of the ecological traditions of various peoples. Thereby, the analysis of China’s environmental culture that is focused on a humane approach to solving environmental problems is important.Ecological culture occupies one of the most important aspects in the culture of China. K. I. Shilin points out that Chinese culture is a fundamental basis for the transition from disharmonious-catastrophic modern reality to a harmonious future for China, Russia, and the world [11, p. 57].The future of China is impossible without a new understanding of the components of ecological traditional culture and the formation of its national idea in a new modernized version. However, the process of forming such a culture is extremely complex. This process includes the complex of sociocultural actualization processes on the basis of cognition and moral creation of man as a natural link in the evolution of the «man - nature – society» system. This problem was discussed in 1990 in China at an international conference held by UNESCO. At the conference it was repeatedly noted that the search for ways to establish an ecological culture cannot be effective without resorting to traditional philosophical teachings, such as Confucian ethics, in particular to the group values proclaimed by it, revered by the origins of 21st-century morality.It is philosophical thought that accumulates the answers to the global questions of human life about death and immortality, about absolute moral values and the metaphysical structure of the universe, and also helps in choosing the strategic path for sustainable development. Confucians emphasized group values, believing them to be the most important means and criterion of educating the ideal person. Confucius urged to proceed from the interests of the people.Mengzi wrote that the state perishes if everyone strives for individual values, and flourishes if the desire for group values prevails and unity of interests prevails.If there is a conflict between individual and group values, it is necessary to sacrifice the former for the sake of the latter. Sun Tzu noticed that a man, yielding to a bull in strength and a horse in playfulness, nevertheless surpasses both of them due to its ability to live and act in a group [10, p. 23]. In Confucianism, the relationship of man to nature is manifested in the mediated relation of people to each other. Immorality in relation to nature lies in the fact that when a person destroys the natural environment, he also harms other people, as it undermines the natural basis of social life. Thus, the ethical attitude of people towards each other is mediated by an attitude towards nature. At the center of the ecological and ethical system of Confucianism is a public man, an adherent of ecologically moral behavior.Analyzing the relationship of man with society and nature in Confucianism, it is possible to assume that ecologically moral behavior is not a passive-contemplative attitude of man towards nature, but a creative-transformative one, which is aimed at identifying the productive properties of the substance of nature and their practical use and reproduction as necessary conditions of human life. Ecologically, moral behavior is determined by sound education, which was laid in the family and depended on social structures. There were certain differences between the doctrines of Confucius and Lao Tzu, but these differences are not strong.
«Chinese philosophy is generally not distinguished by the desire to develop accurate concepts and complete concepts. This problem was resolved by the presence of various philosophical schools, each of which found its place in the system of integral Chinese culture.» [15, p. 18].
According to the Chinese scientists themselves, «the Chinese did not attach much importance to the apparent contradictions between the doctrines of various schools, because in practice they were convinced that the wisest solution is more complex and flexible than any doctrine can offer» [13, p. 28].Yi-Fu Tuan writes that in the history of China, two cultures should be seen that differ in environmental aspects. One culture is widely covered in literature and represented in philosophy, poetry and art, but another culture is just as real – «mountains where forests are cut down, clogged streams, crowded cities and political intrigues» [15, p. 63]. The «average» Chinese, according to Yi-Fu Tuan, did not know Daoism, and the everyday culture of the masses required a mundane life, practical cults and consumer utilitarianism. In general, Chinese society in the process of its development has caused significant harm to the environment.Therefore, the appeal of the official authorities in China to the philosophy of Confucianism, which was declared reactionary feudal doctrine during the reign of Mao Zedong, is justified in order to restore continuity. This feudal doctrine provides an answer to the emerging problems of Chinese society, in which profound changes are taking place under the influence of reforms and open politics: the ideological and political vacuum arising from the discrediting and devaluation of socialist ideology and the practical construction of socialism in other countries; increasing western influence; prospects for political pluralism as a consequence of economic pluralization; the growth of social tension, the decline in the authority of power, the destruction of family ties, etc.Confucianism impresses the Chinese leadership precisely because it allows them to combine a market economy with the dominant role of the state in economic life and high socio-political discipline, centralism, and also focuses on social peace, harmony and ecological unity with nature. In their attitude, the Chinese place nature above art and always strive to emphasize its natural beauty without imposing their will on it.
«Confucianism preaches the primacy of the state and society over the individual, obedience to the authorities, the priority of environmental and collectivist values, hard work, study and the cult of knowledge.» The highest virtue – «sons piety and respect for the elder brother» (xiao di) provides for the transfer of norms of family relations to the social community as a whole, the basis of which is served by the «standards of decency» and the achievement of stability of public order and «trust (lin) of the people in relation to the sovereign and the state.» They called for learning to «rule the Middle Kingdom» in accordance with the natural law of development (dao). And for this it was necessary to learn to control yourself, observing the principles of «medianity» [1, p. 199]. In the views of major Chinese political figures, the role of the «Confucian layer» is especially great.
The principle of «profit neglection» inflicted considerable economic and environmental damage on many imperial dynasties, because for the formation of a «socialist spiritual civilization» the denial of the material side of life is already unacceptable. In order for debt and profit to come to unity, China needed to break out of cultural isolation and mobilize national and spiritual resources, where it ended up thanks to the «great proletarian cultural revolution.» In this regard, Deng Xiaoping returns the country to the Confucian cultural stratum. In 1979, he first declared that he was turning to the Xiaokang ideal as the goal of reform in order to achieve the level of average prosperity. This attitude was then enshrined in important state party government documents of the PRC in the 80–90s. As for the problem of Confucian succession, it is possible to connect the interpretation of Deng Xiaoping with the interpretation of Mencius, which details the economic component of Xiaokang, aimed at achieving the welfare of the people.It was with Xiaokang Deng Xiaoping in the socio-political circles of the PRC that interest in Confucianism increased and scientific developments in this area intensified. this was evidenced by the international conference held in Beijing on the 2550th anniversary of the birth of Confucius. The most important feature of «socialist spiritual civilization» is that the traditional ecological-ethical principle again becomes an absolute criterion of value.
A number of fundamental features of Chinese civilization undoubtedly positively contribute to the creation of a new national spiritual culture: «the desire for social harmonization, a spirit of creativity, ethnic homogeneity of the population and high ethnic cohesion of the Han people, high adaptability and the ability "to the digest foreign experience".» [2, p. 127] neglect of the material side of life leads to a decline in morals, and an increase in material well-being leads to an increase in the moral level, personality and society, then excessive commercialism leads to spiritual impoverishment. In the history of Chinese thought, «yi» (duty) has become one of the main categories into which various philosophers have invested different contents. But the most common interpretation is that «yi» is the main thing that distinguishes a person from an animal.
The sense of duty and the principle of universal equality influenced the consciousness of the nation, teaching the people to take care of natural resources rationally and rationally. In China, they say: «we eat grain grown by our ancestors, and doom our descendants to a poor life»[12, p. 7].People’s need for a high-quality environment warns them of an unconscious step that entails serious environmental problems. The value orientation of Chinese ecology is characterized by «performance of duty, profit neglection». [15, p. 8].The basis of the Chinese system of environmental values, where the problem of the balance of man and the biosphere, the problem of conservation of nature takes the main place are the words of the Han philosopher Dong Zhongshu [5, p. 5],
In the context of the philosophy of Chinese scientists, in particular the philosophy of Chuang Tzu, in man «nature itself sounds like a pipe made of bamboo, to which a person does not respond intentionally, but as if involuntarily, like an echo». [4, p. 217].
Socio-ecological views, ideas and concepts of ancient philosophers are becoming an organic part of modern culture and philosophy of China. The mutual influence of cultures is now acquiring a new quality, influencing the process of formation of the general life orientations of people, which are dictated by changes in the conditions of their existence. New priorities and values set new requirements for social thinking, which objectively encourages rethinking of the very phenomenon of culture in the concept of modern trends in the social spiritual progress of the Chinese nation. Currently, the Chinese leadership is talking about the place and role of the spiritual sphere in achieving a qualitatively new state of Chinese society, where China's ecology will take its rightful place. It is fundamentally important that all these issues are considered in Beijing not just in parallel with the main strategic tasks of the country's socio-economic development, but as their integral aspects. This emphasizes the inextricable unity of the material and spiritual culture, close interaction of various factors of spiritual life, close attention to all spheres of society, to the values of environmental development.According to the Beijing leadership, the priorities of the new radical and global politics impose new requirements on social thinking, on the problems of the environmental development of society, and on a new environmental strategy. The Beijing leadership faced an objective demand: to take into account the vulnerability of the natural environment, not to exceed its «ultimate strengths», to delve deeper into the essence of its complex and interrelated phenomena, not to conflict with natural laws so as not to cause irreversible processes. In modern China, not only those whose activities are economic in nature, but also political leaders are considered an environmental imperative, and the methods for resolving both local and international problems depend on their actions.The Confucian heritage, carrying the experience of past generations, helps the individual to develop a firm civic position, without which a developed society cannot function. Until our time, Chinese culture has existed as a continuous tradition for several millennia and has allowed the Chinese people to survive numerous internal calamities and external invasions, has proven its worth and now deserves to be preserved.«Chinese traditional thinking is intuitive. In the sensory sphere, Chinese tradition neglects observation and experience; in the rational sphere, it refuses logical analysis. For the Chinese mentality, the movement from experience through analysis to abstraction is traditionally unusual, it seeks to grasp the essence of the object of knowledge through sensation, action and faith. Intuitionism was one of the reasons that delayed the development of modern science in China, but it also contributed to the creation of a unique aesthetic system.» [14, p. 29].By showing its vitality, Chinese culture has demonstrated its desire for information exchange with other cultures. At present, there is a growing belief in the convergence of two cultures - eastern and western, where harmonization of society and nature will occupy an important place.
According to A. K. Pushkov, China, as the center of a political force, «consciously pursues a policy of renouncing any alliances» [6, p. 12–25]; but, in the outside world, an idea of the predisposition of China as a state and a separate cultural-civilized formation to rapprochement with other civilizations was already formed.
The trend towards a multipolarity of the world requires the Beijing leadership to pursue such a cultural policy that would facilitate interaction with various world cultures, in particular, interaction with environmental cultures, identifying all the positive, using this positive core to comprehend the surrounding life.
It is possible that the synthesis of ecological cultures of human civilization, where Chinese ecological culture is not the last, will be a serious step towards overcoming the environmental problem. Regarding specific measures to address environmental issues, China openly states that it needs international cooperation.Zhang Shigan, a senior official of the State Environmental Protection Agency, said that China will encourage the participation of international financial organizations, foreign governments and private enterprises in environmental activities in China and will borrow advanced foreign technologies, equipment and management methods to ensure long-term and simultaneous development of the economy, social sphere and environmental sector. China has already concluded more than 30 bilateral and multilateral agreements or memorandums of environmental protection with 27 countries of the world, and has signed agreements on cooperation in nuclear safety with 10 countries. He joined 20 international conventions, including the Convention on the Preservation of the Diversity of the Living World, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Sphere, etc. All this is a serious incentive for expanding international PRC's native cooperation in the field of environmental protection.Since 1988, China and foreign countries have outlined over 100 projects for scientific and technical cooperation in the field of environmental protection. Such cooperation and exchanges contributed to a significant increase in the scientific and technical level of environmental control in China. [2, p. 120]. Following the path of comprehensive reform of China, the country's leadership focuses its efforts on raising the country's economy, creating the most favorable internal and external conditions for socio-economic development. All this is impossible without state regulation of the solution of the problem of relations between society and nature.Beijing proceeds from the fact that a stable and positive solution to the environmental problem is an essential factor for ensuring security on a global and regional scale. The basic principles of this decision are based on a healthy rational foundation, taking into account the ideological and cultural component.Over the years of reform, China has overcome a considerable distance in the direction of building the foundations of a rule of law state by improving the human rights situation, observing the interests of youth, entrepreneurs, believers, national minorities, etc .; and never before in the history of China has the national cultural and environmental tradition been the subject of such a thorough and deep study.Ecological views, having become part of modern culture, have a significant impact on all aspects of human and social life. Therefore, Beijing has a serious goal - to raise the environmental dimension to a new level. By the mid-80s. In Chinese society, the independent and powerful direction, focused on the development of various aspects and problems of ecological culture, was clearly defined.Eastern thinkers, as N. Konrad testifies, «did not subordinate man to nature, did not oppose nature to man; they saw in them two forces coexisting in the same sphere - the sphere of life; forces not only coexisting, but also interacting» [7, p. 312]. Being a «model of successful economic transformations» [8, p. 32], modern China comes close to understanding that for a sufficiently effective implementation of environmental tasks it is necessary to create an ecological culture, because a person who has mastered ecological culture forms the ability to measure his existence and needs with natural capabilities.
The task of today's time is the formation of a deep holistic vision of man in his unity with culture and nature. A necessary condition for such a view is a new ecological culture. It is based on the concept of harmony between man and nature, fixed in Taoism and Confucianism [3, p. 59].
Sun-tzu in his work «Strong State» develops the idea of Mencius and defines the relationship between environmental and interpersonal morality as the relationship of «external» and «internal».
According to contemporary Chinese scholars, Confucians gave paramount importance to interpersonal morality and formulated the ecological concept of «love of things». Sun Tzu insisted on introducing a political institution for natural resource management. In his opinion, only the creation of a special security structure «creates a system of power of the ruler», which can become a reliable guarantor of environmental «laws of the ruler». Therefore, traditional concepts are not outdated; they are directly related to the present. [12, p. 2–7]. In October 1994, the second international conference on Confucianism was held in Beijing. Numerous contemporary press materials on the heritage of Confucius have repeatedly argued that the future of China depends on whether it is possible to organically combine modernization and market with Confucianism. Confucian doctrine in all its diversity allows combining a market economy with the dominant political role of the state in economic life, high socio-political discipline and centralism in environmental policy.
This is not to say that the new ecological culture of China has already been formed and Chinese scientists give it a clear definition. The formation of environmental culture is a complex and multifaceted process. A necessary condition for this process is the awareness of the social conditioning of man and nature. Perhaps Confucianism will act as the main component of the new ecological culture of China, which will combine the ideas of Daoism and the concepts of modern Western and Russian scholars.At the present stage of development of Chinese society, the government has come to the conclusion that environmental protection is important as well as the country's economic development. Measures guaranteeing the real effect of environmental safety: afforestation on mountain slopes («zhi shan»), optimization of the situation in previously irrigated territories («zhi shui»), protection of the atmosphere from harmful emissions («zhi kong»), work to improve the ecology of cities («zhi chengshi»).Among these measures, the principle of «awareness» («yi shi») should be given primary attention. The moral aspect of solving an environmental problem is realized through the principle of «awareness», which means greening thinking. The introduction of this principle will contribute to strengthening the role of philosophical and environmental values in the process of social and economic development of China, which in turn will help China solve the most difficult environmental problems.
Understanding the problems of China and its future is impossible without understanding the past and present, the traditions of Chinese culture and philosophical knowledge. The growing power of modern China and its vulnerability actualizes the discussion of philosophical problems, strategic plans for sustainable development and the future world role of Chinese civilization.
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