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Globalization in Asia - Habermas And Derrida In China

chinese rationality yong century

In April 2001 Habermas toured China, speaking on various topics, including globalization and communicative rationality. China is intrigued with his Weberian-inspired views on value rationality and instrumental (purposive) rationality, that is, in the relationship between the ends themselves and the means to ends in both economic and social actions. What distinguishes Habermas from Max Weber is a focus on the universality of communicative action within internationally sensitive lifeworlds. In debate with Habermas, Tong Shijun, a leading philosopher, characterizes China's discourse on modernity as composed of several stages: (1) the early twentieth century creation of science and democracy, (2) the later twentieth century socialist model, and (3) the early-twenty-first century discussion on market economies and legal systems (p. 82). Tong utilizes an ancient Chinese polarity of ti (substance, body, ground) and yong (function, use, manifestation) to compare with Habermas: ti as value rationality and yong as instrumental rationality. The relation between an object and its movement, the nature of a thing and its expression, a moral principle and its application is the connection of ti and yong. Closely related to these pairings are dao (way) and qi (instrument). In the nineteenth century Qing bureaucrats referred to the slogan "Chinese learning as ti or substance and Western learning as yong or function" (Tong, p. 82). These pairings might neatly compare with Gu Mu's dictum for Chinese views of globalization: Eastern on the inside and Western on the outside. In dialogue with Western thinkers such as Habermas, the Chinese pairings help grapple with everyday interactive decisions of the lifeworld over and against the global compulsions of economic, political, social, and philosophical systems.

In September 2001 Derrida completed a similar tour. Chinese intellectuals discussed his "specters of Marx" theory that still holds transformational possibilities. Although Chinese Marxist scholars primarily view globalization as an economic moment in the continuing internationalization of capitalist modes of production, they are also concerned with cultural consequences. Derrida's multicultural approach to law, language, and society might help the Chinese form a New International that addresses the homogenization of global economics by way of a participatory response of cultural difference and diversity. China can be in globalization without completely being of globalization. Chinese scholars look for universal value in globalization beyond obvious hegemonic implications. Derrida agrees that there are many confusing debates around globalization because of "a certain transparence and with the appearance of liberal exchange" (Zhang Ning, p. 160), while forms of monopoly march forward. China's awareness of these trends and continued participation in the discourse on globalization can profit from European philosophers (including postmodernists) as a complement to North American thinkers.

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