The Deans of Harvard Visit IAHS and WEIB (1/20/2014)

On January 20, the Deans of Harvard University honored IAHS with their presence. Prof. Tu Weiming introduced the institute to them, Chen Jiahong explained WEIB’s Confucian Entrepreneur’s initiative, and Misha Tadd assisted.

The Deans had taken time from their busy schedule to come and learn more about this young institute started by former Harvard professor Tu Weiming, who outlined the important vision on which the institute is based. He emphasized the present opportunity to profoundly support Chinese higher education as it becomes more internationalized and sophisticated. In particular, he explained that Harvard is well situated to help further build up the Peking University’s humanities programs and create pedagogical approaches that do not simply focus on technical training.

Prof. Tu also introduced the basic mission of the Institute for Advance Humanistic Studies. This includes taking a leading in role in facilitating the worlds recognition of Chinese culture through promoting cross-cultural dialogue, exploring the subjectivity of Chinese thought in the context of global cultural pluralism, and creating a globally applicable model of ethics founded on the Chinese notion of “One Commonwealth Under Heaven.” He also introduced three of the institute’s main centers: Cultural China, Dialogue Among Civilizations, and the Yenching Center.

Prof. Tu explained the importance of cultural exchange for the advancement of humanity as a whole. In particular, he stressed the need for more open-minded religious dialogues. These dialogues aim to transcend limited binaries like East and West, and engage with the multiple centers of culture and power in our globalized world. While it is true the world has benefited greatly from the ideals of the enlightenment that emerged from Europe, he stressed that these values must be supplement and informed by other traditions. From the view of the enlightenment ideals of equality and respect of human rights there is no legal or moral obligation to help others and this is a problem. The limiting of humanity to the rational actor of homo economicus has not only contributed to the oppression of others and the destruction of the planet, but it fails to encourage us to attain the richness of human moral and creative potential. In conclusion, Prof. Tu asserted the need for a spiritual humanism that emerges from supplementing the great ideals and values of the enlightenment with Eastern values like harmony, responsibility, and compassion.

Chen Jiahong concluded the presentation by briefly explaining the World Ethics Institute in Beijing and its Confucian Entrepreneur initiative.