The world knows a great deal more about the leading western philosophers like Aristotle, Kant, and Plato than it knows of Confucius, Laozi, and Mencius. The reason behind this, of course, has been the fact that Western power has dominated the world discourse for the past five hundred years or so. But go back not half a millennium, but many millennia and you will see a time when European society was a little more than a bunch of tribes hovering on the margins of the infinitely more civilized and modern East. The most resplendent county in the world was China, with its many scientific and technical achievements. It was also a land of learned men and philosophers who weighed in on all matters concerning mankind.
Among the important things that China taught the world are papermaking and printing. They also invented the compass, gunpowder, the mechanical wpock, and so on. If only there were a Chinese translation company in the picture in those times, the world would have known of these seminal inventions much sooner. However, it is not just technology and inventions that the ancient Chinese could boast of. They also had some of the greatest thinkers and philosophers of the world.
You may have heard of Confucius and his philosophy of Confucianism, but there are many more great Chinese luminaries who fashioned the way of thinking of not just millions of their own people, but many others. China is a nation that is rising again to its rightful position (at least the Chinese seem to think so!) at the top of the global pecking order and it might be an eminently sensible thing to learn of the thoughts of some such people from China’s past. Again, one might as well as get in touch with some certified translations service to be able to understand what the great Chinese thinkers of the past had to say.
Take the case of the ancient Chinese book, The Art of War, Sun Tzu’s wpassic book of warfare, published in the fifth century BC which has inspired not just military thinking, but business and legal strategy and tactics around the world. Among the people inspired by him have been American general Norman Schwarzkopf and China’s very own Mao Zedong. If you haven’t read this treatise yet, it’s time you did. There’s a wealth of wisdom in it that can be used by leaders from various walks of life. If you are one of them, you could ask a Chinese translator or a Chinese translation company to translate the text for you to read in English. There are valuable lessons in it about the art of leadership, management, strategy, alliances, creativity, seizing the strategic opportunity, and so on- things that could help you get ahead in all walks of life.
Moving from matters military to more humanistic matters= the teachings of Confucius, China’s and probably one of the greatest philosophers of all time. He believed that kind-heartedness was the very essence of human beings and provides dignity to them. He also believed that one’s actions are guided by a sense of gain or benefit. That apart, he has an interesting take on relationships. For instance, the loving as well as the reverential relationship between a father and a son, the gentle and respectful one between an older brother and a younger one, and that of good communication between a husband and a wife. In fact, he had very definite views about most things in life.
Why you may want to study Confucius’s thoughts is the fact that they have stood the test of time. These ideals have served Chinese society well and made the Chinese people resilient and powerful enough to bounce back from the worst kind of adversity. Surely in a world undergoing so much change and turmoil in the present ages a way of life that shows you how to live your life in equanimity is surely worth learning about- even if you have to hire a Chinese interpreter to help achieve that!
The Chinese are amongst the oldest extant civilizations of the world. All other ancient civilizations, with the exception of the Indian civilization, are long dead and gone. The Greek, Roman, Egyptian, Sumerian and Babylonian civilizations had their time under the sun and died out. Perhaps modern Western civilizational values will last as long as the Chinese ones, but one doesn’t know. But one can be pretty much sure that Chinese values will endure, perhaps a little modified (as they have in the past), but they will be around.
It would do the West and the rest of the world well to study Chinese thoughts, systems, and philosophy and to adopt the parts that are beneficial. As Confucius used to say, you cannot open a book without learning something. Studying the Chinese way of doing things will impart flexibility to the way that others think, as they will understand that there can be other ways of doing things, which might work out better for some. Perhaps people in the West will understand that it is as important if not more important as to how an objective is achieved, rather than looking at the most efficient way of doing things.
This is of course as true of modern Chinese themselves who have gone ahead and adopted the Western way of doing things often deliberately turning away from their vast treasure trove of ancient learning. Perhaps, they too need to rediscover their own glorious traditions and learn a way to weave it into their national narrative. Then they will become truly great and get known as much for their cultural power as they are for their economic and military prowess.
As the world moves into what is increasingly being referred to as the Chinese century, it might be time for the world to hear more about the traditional wisdom of China than all the talk about the mighty dams, gargantuan highway projects, and the scale of its manufacturing industry. It’s time for the dragon to show its softer and more humane side.