On September 12, the first Academic Workshop of Confucius Academy, sponsored by Cultural Communication Center of Guiyang Confucius Academy and Development Foundation of Guizhou Provincial Confucius Academy, was held. It invited experts in Yangming’s Theory from Sun Yat-sen University, Fudan University, Guizhou University, Guiyang University, Chinese Culture Promotion Society, and Promotion Society of Research of Yangming’s Theory of Ningbo to conduct in-depth exchanges and discussions on the topic of Contemporary Value of Yangming’s Theory. The event was presided over by Feng Dawen, Professor of the Department of Philosophy and Director of Institute of Zen and Chinese Culture of Sun Yat-sen University.
Professor Wang Qinfeng, Member of the National Committee of CPPCC, believed that in the contemporary society, Yangming’s theory, especially the idea of “the extension of the innate knowledge of the good”, contributes much to cultivate of one’s moral character. “Why? The idea itself proposes both metaphysical meaning and physical practices. It deals with the nature of existence as well as self-cultivation. To cultivate one’s morality, one must understand it in a metaphysical way and more importantly make physical efforts to achieve it.
He Jun, Doctoral Supervisor and Distinguished Professor of the School of Philosophy of Fudan University, from the perspective of the historical background of Yangming’s Theory, said that the key value of the Theory is re-enlightenment, i.e. “arousing one’s subjectivity to encourage him/her to be the master of his/her own and avoid blindly believing whatever other people say”. At the same time, He Jun believed that the Theory has its own drawbacks, namely making people easily judge and demand others from personal value on the moral high ground and then be opinionated and unrealistic.
Ye Kedong, former Deputy Director of the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council and Vice Chairman of Chinese Culture Promotion Society, focused on attitudes towards Yangming’s Theory in different eras, and said that we should learn from Wang Yangming’s philosophy to be dauntless to challenge authority and pursue true knowledge, from his academic attitude to be thoughtful and dedicated, and from his practical way of working to adopt pragmatic and down-to-earth approaches and follow the acquired knowledge in practices. Chen Liquan, Chairman of Promotion Society of Research of Yangming’s Theory of Ningbo and Distinguished Professor of Ningbo University, expounded the view that “Yangming’s Theory marks the completion of the development of Buddhism with Chinese characteristics” and the significance of inheritance and promotion of Yangming’s Theory in terms of exchanges and fusion of global cultures.
In addition, Zhao Pinglue, Director of Institute of Yangming’s Theory and Guizhou Studies of Guiyang University, according to the reality of current society, expressed his idea that intellectuals should be responsible to the country and nation and know what to do when faced with failures of the power. Zhang Ming, Director of Research Center of Yangming’s Theory of Guizhou University, from the life of Wang Yangming spent in Guizhou, shared the “experience in Guizhou” of the Great Confucianist, namely cultural enlightenment, ethnic integration and consolidation of the border. Li Ping, Professor of the Department of Philosophy of Sun Yat-sen University and Director Research Center of Marxist Philosophy and Chinese Modernization, a Key Research Base of Humanities and Social Sciences of the Ministry of Education, shared her opinions about the significance of avoiding “educating and restraining others” in self-cultivation from the perspective of historical and social changes and ethics.
Suo Xiaoxia, Director and Secretary of the Party Committee of Cultural Communication Center of Guiyang Confucius Academy, said that the academic workshop allows experts and scholars to share their insights, widen horizons in methodologies, and probe into Yangming’s Theory from a broader outlook of time and space. Studying Yangming’s Theory in the light of global civilization is refreshing, insightful and illuminating. She noted that from 2020, Institute for Advanced Study of Confucius Academy will invite domestic experts and scholars to explore the contemporary value of Yangming’s Theory through systematic and extensive academic discussions mainly on Yangming’s Theory, so as to promote the “creative transformation and innovative development” of Yangming Culture.