Tu Weiming's Vision


With the emergence of globalizations, there has been rapid spread of globalization. Although the term is neutral, more often than not, globalization involves the spread of Western ideas to other parts of the world. As a result, the term is usually used inter-changeably with westernization. Different scholars have sought to investigate this phenomenon. While some support the idea that globalization should be left to shape global culture and ethics, others posit that other cultures of the world should also be recognized at the international scene. Instead of a cultural monopoly, this new crop of intellectuals suggest that there should be several ‘modernities’ arising from different cultural centers as opposed to the spread of new cultures. One of the leading figures in this school of thought is Tu Weiming. In his ‘Beyond the enlightenment mentality’, Tu seeks to propose an alternative vision for the world in terms of peace-seeking and new humanism; by insisting on a extra-enlightenment approach to world integration.

Having grown up in Taiwan and consequently attaining his B.A. in Chinese Studies, Tu has a strong background in Confucianism. After his M.A. and PhD. From Harvard University, Tu has been variously involved in several academic and diplomatic aspects. He has widely published in the area of religious, philosophical and social aspects of human existence. Following his expertise and experience, he has severally facilitated dialogues among civilizations. Some of his internationally recognized roles include the address of the World Economic Forum, World Congress of Philosophy, World Congress on the History of Religions, World Congress of Philosophy of Law and Social Philosophy among many others. He has been at Peking University since 2009. Although some consider him as an atheist, his neo-Confucian inclination has provided new directions in Enlightenment mentality reflections and inter-civilization dialogue.

Tu Weiming’s Vision and Guidance

According to Tu (1), Enlightenment mentality entails industrial capitalism, science and technology, market economies, military bureaucracies, science and technology, mass communication, democratic polity and research universities. However, he noted that these ideals could be pursued at the expense of human rights, personal liberty, individual dignity and respect for privacy. Moreover, Tu does not necessarily dismiss in absolute terms the Enlightenment mentality because according to Gottlieb (316), although Enlightenment mentality has contributed to individualism, some of the most influential world leaders are beneficiaries of the school of thought.

According to Hayhoe (4), Tu’s vision was a world where integration does not only depend on internationalization but also on rootedness and localization; a situation that would see Confucianism taken as a reliable source of teachings on peace and integration. This vision actually provides guidance by directly relating what Confucians teach to global peace and approach to issues. He gives two reasons why Confucianism can play a role in undoing the harm of individualism arising capitalism. He cites two examples: the first is the Golden Rule while the second is the positive Confucian principle. According to the Golden Rule, one should not do others what he or she does not want to be done to him or her. According to the other Confucian principle, one should not develop while others are not developing (Hayhoe, 4). In respect to these prescriptions, the Enlightenment mentality could get guidelines on how to approach economic development, market expansion among other domains. Further, Tu does not only offer guidelines at the national level but also for individual excellence in interior life. In his new vision, if Judaism, Christianity and Islam merge with Confucianism, Daoism and Buddhism, the world would be a better place in terms of peace.

Tu Weiming and New Humanism

The core of Tu’s argument is new humanism. According to him, it is possible for people to be more human if they followed the tenets of Confucianism or other like-minded religions. Tu cited in Yol Jung (260) writes that to be more human, people from all parts of the world should transform themselves from within in a ceaseless manner. However, learning to be human must not be separated from the expectations of the community, nature, the transcendent and the self. However, it may appear difficult for people to transcend themselves. In most cases, people act on impulses; they are more materially-inclined, such as seen in capitalism. Moreover, Tu gives guidelines on how to be more human through what he calls new humanism.

Tu indeed provides insights on how to be more human in the midst of the modern challenges. To become more human, there is a need to respect the dignity of other people. According to Gottlieb (326), human dignity should be preserved on concentric circles of self, family, community, society, nation, world and cosmos. In addition, people can become more human by realizing their actual personal identities. One can only proper either economically or otherwise, if he or she understands himself or herself. Further, people should be able to rise above egoism and selfishness. Otherwise, self-centered individuals can never be human; because it is not part of the requirements for new humanism.

There are other ways of becoming more human. According to Gottlieb (326), being more human can be achieved through enhanced family cohesiveness. This is because family, as the basic unity of the society, provides the necessary peacefulness can be reflected outwardly to the rest of the nation and world. Additionally, being more human means co-operating with others at the community level. However, Tu warns that co-operation with others does not mean living in cocoons. Specifically, nepotism cannot help one to be more human; people must reach out to others. He categorically mentions that even Confucianism needs to ‘Westernize’ its values to other nations through tools that the Enlightenment mentality has provided: technology, mass communication and the like.

What the World Community Needs

Since the birth of nations, there have been many problems inflicting the world. They range of military wars, political tensions, economic competition, competition ideologies, conflict between religion and state among others problems. These problems could be attributed to many sources. In fact, scholars have differed on what causes the present-day problems (Cassey, 161). Tu appears to belong, partially; to the school of thought that sees the Western School of Thought as the cardinal cause of failure on international peace. This is primarily on the basis of, they claim, capitalism, which promotes individualism and promotes competition as opposed to co-operation. At the same time, he acknowledges that the Enlightenment mentality has contributed to numerous global successes. On this basis, it is clear that going beyond Enlightenment mentality does not necessarily mean dropping it completely but blending it with other schools of thought of ‘modernities’. This view considers cultural pluralism as an important ingredient to world integration and peace. This is based on the fact that it is important to consider the context of any situation before applying ‘mentality’ in solving foreign problems.

What the world needs is application of several ideologies in solving various problems facing humanity on the face of the earth. These ideologies include Enlightenment mentality, founded on Christianity, Judaism and Islam, New Humanism, based Eastern religions, and any other relevant ideology. Moreover, caution must be exercised because application of several ideologies could cause confusion instead on success. It is hereby proposed that not all religious or philosophical schools should be accommodated but only that are most popular and holding clear teachings. This is the time to incorporate other views to economic development, peace, international relations, politics and diplomacy. Capitalism has its advantages and disadvantages; socialism too. But both are not exclusively independent. This calls for intensive dialoguing between civilizations; compromises and effective implementation. It would not come without challenges; it would not take a few years. It would perhaps takes several generations or even centuries (Cassey). But according to Tu (3), it is possible. In fact, it is not only possible but also necessary.

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