FENG ZIYI: Cultural development should adapt to changing era

By / 01-08-2015 / (Chinese Social Sciences Today)

Every era has its unique culture. Any valuable culture should be adaptable to the demands of changing times. To advance cultural prosperity and development, we should be soundly aware of the changing era and adopt appropriate methods of cultural development.

Cultural development in the new era requires us to observe and reflect on problems from the perspectives of the nation and the world. We can promote the status of Chinese culture in the world pattern and demonstrate the charm of Chinese culture only when cultural development is adaptable to contemporary society and coordinated with modern civilization.


Boosting national cultural vitality
Culture in any country has national and global character. Every country should highlight its national cultural character to promote its value globally. Culture has vitality and becomes globally influential only when it embodies the spirit of the era and responds to its call.

Enhancing cultural vitality requires us to transfer traditional culture to modern culture. An important way of realizing the transition is to integrate traditional culture in the new era and world. Modern culture can be formed by connecting traditional culture with the era of development, as well as integrating traditional culture with achievements of world civilization. Traditional culture is converted to modern culture by means of national culture going global.


Chinese culture going global
Chinese culture going global requires us to carefully study cultural demands of the world. Only by meeting various needs of the world can we expand the cultural market abroad and make our culture more influential globally. By the same token, further international focus on Chinese culture will accelerate its globalization. We should have acute market awareness and develop relevant strategies to promote Chinese culture globally.

The aim of Chinese culture going global is to tell “Chinese stories” well. China has made remarkable achievements over three decades of reform and opening-up, forming its unique “Chinese path” and “Chinese experience.” “Chinese stories” are well told based on effective elaboration of the Chinese path and Chinese experience. We should highlight the cultural connotation and universal value of the Chinese path and Chinese experience while resolving various problems in human society to make a major contribution to human civilization.

Proper ways of telling Chinese stories are also necessary. We should make our stories more attractive and acceptable, promoting their affinity and influence in the world, which will contribute to Chinese culture going global.


Building discourse power
Discourse power is an important symbol of a powerful culture. People focus more on the content of discourse. To gain global attention and recognition of the content of our discourse, we should make our voice heard in solving new problems emerging in the era and social practice. In particular, faced with some major problems, we should strive to occupy the commanding height and win the dominant right of speech.

Additionally, we should also pay attention to expressing ways, which are directly related to the effect of speech. In cultural development, we shouldn’t follow Western discourse and must be wary of falling into the “discourse trap” set by the West. However, we should accurately convey our culture to foreigners with clear language and logic thoughts.

Power of discourse is usually achieved amid cultural integration and exchanges. We should participate in dialogue among civilizations to intensify power of discourse and promote the influence of Chinese culture. Two points are worthy of attention in seeking effective dialogues.

The first is the topic of dialogue. We may conduct a dialogue centered on common issues of many countries. Through this dialogue, we may not only absorb progressive cultural elements into our own culture but also demonstrate our cultural power. The second is the focus of dialogue.

We should pay more attention to discussion and exchanges on major theoretic and realistic problems in contemporary society and seek reasonable settlement of such problems. Such dialogue is greatly beneficial to both theory and practice. We should therefore advocate pushing forward dialogue between different cultures on terms of reality.


Feng Ziyi is a professor from the Department of Philosophy at Peking University.