Ehsan Doostmohammadi: Confucianism shows global appeal, enduring influence

(| Updated : 2024-07-10

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Editor's Note: The 10th Nishan Forum on World Civilizations is being held in Qufu, Shandong province, the hometown of Confucius, from July 10 to 11, aiming to promote traditional Chinese culture and strengthen international cultural exchanges and cooperation. China Daily is inviting experts and scholars in related fields to share their insights into Confucianism, traditional Chinese culture and the dialogue among various civilizations.


Ehsan Doostmohammadi, associate researcher with the School of History and Culture at Southwest University in Chongqing and recipient of the 16th Special Book Award of China. [Photo provided to]

Q: Why do you think Confucianism is popular in China and even in the world?

A: The reason why Confucianism is so popular in China and even around the world is that it emphasizes moral and ethical concepts, attaches importance to education and culture, pursues the concept of social harmony, and has universal values and a broad mass base. Confucianism is not only deeply rooted in traditional Chinese culture, but its emphasis on values such as benevolence, filial piety, and loyalty are also of universal significance and accepted by people from different cultural backgrounds. Additionally, the adaptability and inclusiveness of Confucianism enable it to absorb the essence of other cultures and constantly improve itself to adapt to changing times. The combined effect of these factors makes Confucianism widely influential and popular around the world.

Q: What is your favorite famous saying from The Analects and how do you understand it?

A: My favorite quote from The Analects is: "Do not do to others what you do not want others to do to you."

This is a basic moral principle which guides us in our interpersonal relationships. This thought of extending oneself to others reflects the values of "benevolence" and "harmony" in Confucianism.

This quote is a highly generalized moral code, emphasizing that individuals should consider the feelings and needs of others when acting and respect the rights and freedoms of others. This is not only a manifestation of personal cultivation but also an important cornerstone for building a harmonious society.

In today's society, this quote still holds important practical significance. When dealing with interpersonal relationships and resolving conflicts, we should always keep this principle in mind, treating others with tolerance, understanding, and respect, and promoting the harmony and stability of our associations. At the same time, we are reminded to reflect on our own behavior and avoid causing unnecessary harm and pain to others.

In short, the famous saying "Do not do to others what you do not want others to do to you" embodies the core values of Confucianism. It is a simple yet profound moral code that is of great significance to personal cultivation and social harmony.

Q: How do you view the role that high-end technology plays in cultural heritage?

A: High-end technology plays a vital role in cultural inheritance. Through digitalization, virtual reality, and other technical means, high-end technology provides new ways to preserve and protect cultural heritage while promoting the inheritance and innovation of traditional culture. These technologies not only foster the integration of culture and technology but also enrich the connotation of culture through innovative methods and broaden the channels for cultural dissemination. High-end technology also promotes the popularization of education, enabling more people to access high-quality cultural and educational resources. In terms of international exchanges and cooperation, high-end technology facilitates the exchange and display of different cultures. However, when using these technologies, it is necessary to ensure the safety and integrity of cultural heritage and balance the relationship between technological innovation and cultural inheritance.

Q: What opportunities does globalization present for the dissemination of Confucian teachings worldwide?

A: Confucian values play a key role in balancing tradition and innovation. They not only provide individuals with moral codes and behavioral standards to ensure that they do not deviate from the moral bottom line when pursuing innovation, but also shape the ethical norms of society through the education system and promote social harmony and stability. At the same time, new interpretations of Confucian culture enable it to adapt to the development needs of modern society, such as paying attention to environmental protection and social equity, while also emphasizing individual independence and innovative spirit. This balance enables Confucian values to be continuously passed on to promote the continuous progress and development of society, providing strong support for the comprehensive prosperity of individuals, society, and the country.

Q: What role can Confucian values play in navigating this balance between tradition and innovation?

A: Globalization has brought significant opportunities for the spread of Confucianism around the world. These opportunities are mainly reflected in enhanced cultural exchanges and international cultural interaction, providing a broader stage for the dissemination of Confucianism. The internationalization of education allows more foreign scholars and students to access and learn Confucian culture, and the development and popularization of media technology, such as television, the Internet, and social media, have provided more diverse and faster channels for the dissemination of Confucianism. The increase in international cooperation has provided opportunities for the complementarity and integration of Confucianism and other cultures, promoting Confucianism's innovation and development. At the same time, these opportunities also help to promote the development of cultural diversity in the world.