On July 19, the 2018 Confucius Academy Summer Debate was held. The theme in current debate was “Which is more important between group consciousness and individual consciousness?” XU Jilin, Distinguished Professor of Zijiang Scholar Program, East China Normal University, LIU Qing, Professor of Department of Politics, East China Normal University, YAO Zhongqiu, Professor of Advanced Institute of Confucian Studies, Shandong University, BAI Tongdong, Professor of School of Philosophy, Fudan University, unfolded their debate on the basis of their respective viewpoint. HU Xiaoming, Professor of Department of Chinese Language and Literature, East China Normal University, hosted the debate.
YAO Zhongqiu holds, no matter in group consciousness and individual consciousness, there is deviation in both, for neither of them is on the middle path. That is, the middle path is the right way of human being. LIU Qing deems that the modern social group transferred from organic community to voluntary community which is built on the basis of acknowledgement of individuals’ true willingness. In this sense, the individual consciousness is more important. BAI Tongdong regards that generally, the group consciousness is deemed as traditional concept, while the individual consciousness as modern concept. As a matter of fact, it’s not so. Pre-Qin Confucianism also admitted the individual consciousness, but they emphasized the seed of caring the group was also included in such sense. XU Jilin pointed out that people should neither take group consciousness as superior Utopia nor take the individual consciousness as the sole materialized pursuit, because neither of the two is advisable. It’s not to unilaterally build a society with priority on groups or one with priority on individuals, but a society respecting individuals and possessing cohesive forces.
After the debate completed, Host HU Xiaoming summarized the speeches. He pointed out that the social phenomenon like delicate egoist turns up, precisely not resulting from the less emphasized group consciousness, but from the failure of building the so-called group consciousness on the basis of social community with emotional ontology of every individual caring each other and from the failure of settling the basis of securing individual dignity and rights and respecting individual intentions and selections. Meanwhile, the traditional Confucianism doesn’t precisely emphasize the atomized individual, but emphasizes the society of every individual caring each other with thoughts, reaction, and perspective in the true individual life. Such social consciousness is not only for true individuals but also for rooted society. Through debate, the historical reference is brought up again to clarify the ideological misunderstanding, while the mutually acceptable parts may be unfolded to reach consensus.