The Cultivation of Human Beings is of vital importance to any great undertaking.In the face of the surging new industrial recolution and intense worldwide competition,how to educate and mould people may decide the destiny of a nation.The fittest survive,and the weak perish---this applies to nations as well as to nature.Human beings,however,are the decisive factor.
Some scholars of world renown point out that in modern Western societies,material production has greatly expanded thanks to high technology,but ethical stangards and social morals have rapidly declined.They note that mounting social problems have seriously impeded the progress of society.They warn that the human race could be destroyed by its own scientific achievements unless moral education and scientific education go hand in hand.They even suggest that"for the sake of mankind's survival beyond the 21st century,we should seek enlightenment from the Chinese sage---Confucius."
The phenomenal economic success of Japan and the "four lesser Asian dragons" since the 1960s has astonished the world.This region is in the Oriental or East Asian cultural realm,characterised by the Confucian philosophy as its mainstream,particularly in terms of social ethics.
Scholars may have different assessments of the influence of Confucianism om the development of the East Asian economy,but they differ only on the extent and magnitude of such influence rather than its existence.
During his visit to China in 1984,Japanese Prime Minister Nakasone had a discussion with the late Chinese Communist Party General Secretary Hu Yaobang in which Mr. Nakasone said that Japan had followed the footsteps of the United States and Europe in economic development,but had continued to be guided by Confucian philosophy in social ethics and moral education.Hu later commented that in the perspective of Japan's experience,Nakasone's remarks were very well founded and deserved deep pondering in China.
In recent years,China has sent many students to Japan to learn business management.
But the Japanese said that much of their management techniques had been learned from China.For example,the famous National Electric Appliance Business College used Chinese classics like The Great Learning,The Analects of Confucius,Mencius and The Classics of Filial Piety as textbooks of business ethics.Students were encouraged to achieve high standrads of virtue,companionship and excellence.
European and American scholars commend Japan for having admirably combined modernity and tradition in building a mordern economy.
The Japanese have an excellent work ethic and can endure hardships.They maintain strong family ties and are polite.Thus they possess all the outstanding features of Oriental civilization.
Singapore stands out among Asian's "four lesser dragons".Its citizens receive education in ethics from adolescence,using textbooks compiled a few years ago by the authorities along the lines of Confucian ideology.
This approach has helped to transform Singarpore into a mordern civilized country.A 1991 survey by an American consultancy firm regarding risks in business environment gave the highest marks to Singarpore workers in terms of quality,abidance by rules,work attitude and technical proficiency.
For centuries,since the advent of the industrial revolution and capitalism,Western powers have domainated the world in the realms of economics and culture.However,this began to change after the economic upsurge of East Asia.
Aprominent American politician commented that the 21st century would be an era of the Confucian oriented Asian Pacific economic sphere.Athough some people still hold that Confucian culture impeded East Asia's economic development and social progress,this prejudice has been disproved by facts and should be discarded.
The quintessence of traditional Chinese culture can be epitomized as the harmonious coexistence of man and nature,and the great harmony of mankind.
Chinese philosophy regards mankind as the centre of all beings who can decide their own destiny and achieve aternal peace.The philosophy stresses that one has to establish one's own values and maintain a proper outlook on life and the world.This idea is also of universal significance.Taken as a whole,there are also some negative points in the traditional Chinese culture.
But it would be unfair to ascribe all the dross of feudal society to traditional Chinese culture.
In a decade of reform and opening since the early 1980s,China has undergone monumental changes,and its achievements have stunned the world.As the economy surges forward in the course of transformation from a planned to a market economy,social norms and moral standards have made headway.Human relations are improving.Pressing ahead and earning one's worth by honest competition--these are becoming socially accepted values.
People now accord greater importance to economics,science,knowledge and culture.On the other hand,vices have cropped up in the form of money aorship,corruption,self-seeking,cheating,forgery,counterfeiting,misrepresentation,larceny and robbery.These have gravely undermined social morality and grown into a public plague.We realize that economic development and the enhancement of moral standards should go hand in hand.As we push on our reform,we will preserve and carry forward the best of our own traditional culture while drawing on the cream of foreign culture ,especially that of developed countries.
In this way we are convinced that we will build up a new socialist culture and ethics with Chinese characteristics.
It is with this in mind that we have compiled this book of Chinese Maxims---Golden Sayings of Chinese Thinkers over Five Thousand Years.These are selections from a wealth of Chinese philosophical works.Like flowers floating in the eternal stream of history,they retain their colour and fragrance,as well as their true beauty.They will not only be useful to one's intellectual development,but will also inspire and help one to become a better person.This book meets the needs of all those who are pressing ahead with the times,who intend to cultivate themselves their whole life long,who are busily building up their career and who wish to perfect themselves by drawing on classical texts and by learning from real life.
We sincerely hope these famous maxims and golden sayings from antiquity will stir readers'minds and spur them forward.This book is also meant for foreign readers,specialists or scholars,who wish to draw on the ocean of wisdom of Chinese classics.We'll feel honoured and satisfied if we achieve these objectives.
Jack Zimmerman is an associate staff writer. Upon graduation, he started working as a freelance writer for many writing agencies. He considers freelance writing to be a dynamic field which is both interesting and rewarding.