Social Ethics in a Changing China: Moral Decay or Ethical Awakening?

Brookings Institution Press
Free sample

Over the past half-century, China has experienced some incredible human dramas, ranging from Red Guard fanaticism and the loss of education for an entire generation during the Cultural Revolution, to the Tiananmen tragedy, the economic miracle, and its accompanying fad of money worship and the rampancy of official corruption. Social Ethics in a Changing China: Moral Decay or Ethical Awakening? provides a rich empirical narrative and thought-provoking scholarly arguments, highlighting the imperative for an ethical discourse in a country that is increasingly seen by many as both a materialistic giant and a spiritual dwarf.

Professor He Huaihong was not only an extraordinary firsthand witness to all of these dramas, he played a distinct role as a historian, an ethicist, and a social critic exploring the deeper intellectual and sociological origins of these events. Incorporating ethical theories with his expertise in culture, history, religion, literature, and politics of the country, He reviews the remarkable transformation of ethics and morality in the People's Republic of China and engages in a global discourse about the major ethical issues of our time. The book aims to reconstruct Chinese social ethics in an innovative philosophical framework, reflecting China's search for new virtues.

Contents

1. Reconstructing China's Social Ethics

2. Historical and Sociological Origins of Chinese Cultural Norms

3. The Transformation of Ethics and Morality in the PRC

4. China's Ongoing Moral Decay?

5. Ethical Discourse in Reform Era China

6. Chinese Ethical Dialogue with the West and the World

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About the author

He Huaihong, one of the most influential ethicists in present-day China, is a professor of philosophy at Peking University in Beijing.

Cheng Li, director and senior fellow of the John L. Thornton China Center at Brookings, is author of the upcoming book, Chinese Politics in the Xi Jinping Era: Reassessing Collective Leadership (Brookings, 2016).

John L. Thornton is cochairman of the board of trustees at the Brookings Institution and professor and director of global leadership at Tsinghua University.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Brookings Institution Press
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Published on
Oct 13, 2015
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Pages
250
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ISBN
9780815725725
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Asia / China
Philosophy / Ethics & Moral Philosophy
Political Science / World / Asian
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Alongside China's vast material development, there came a change of its mental habits, largely affected by the technological revolution in the means of mass communication. This book shows how such a change has brought — and yet been brought by — a new form of pictorial thought, essentially sensuous and imagery, which is suggesting a possible future for the world. Today's China is different from what it used to be; the Maoist years appear, even to the official mind, an absurdity; and this difference is evident in the replacement of the Maoist mass-politics by what should be called "Moral politics," which is petty and personal. It is the moralizing practice that characterizes today's China, when the birth of so-called "ordinary people," taken as a collection of individual authors of their own private lives and personal stories, became an acknowledged social fact, proliferating in all kinds of mass media. This study traces the birth of "ordinary people" to the beginning of the century, when the reformation of the political in terms of personal dilemmas or moral groans began. From the beginning of this century, the moral content of Chinese politics is more and more fulfilled by such as problems of marriage or sexual affairs. In other words, this is participant observation of an affective change in the Chinese mind, where and when sociology became photographic, i.e. the photographer a natural sociologist, and the mold of Facebook or Wechat communication has reshaped the ideographic tradition of its writing system. This is yet another "Cultural Revolution" on the ruins of the Maoist revolution. Contents: PrefaceIntroductoryAfter Mao: Mobility and VirtualityCinematographic Reality: the Pictorial ThoughtAnamorphosis or the Order of FacebooksAbsolute Privacy and Possessive NarcissismAfterwordAcknowledgementsReferences
Readership: Policymakers, academics, professionals, undergraduate and graduate students interested in Moralization of China, Maoism, global China and its postmodern transformation.
Keywords: Moralization of China;Maoism;Pictorial Thought;Public Intellectuals;Photographic Reality;Facebook-Communication;Absolute Privacy;Narcissism and Individualism;Confessional Publicity;Global China and Its Postmodern TransformationReview: Key Features: Conceptual ethnography: what social theory needs todayCritical, not only of China but also the means of mass-communication in generalA new style of thinking which is looking at our own future prospects
 Presents an updated account of Hong Kong and its culture two decades after its reversion to China.
In Found in Transition, Yiu-Wai Chu examines the fate of Hong Kong’s unique cultural identity in the contexts of both global capitalism and the increasing influence of China. Drawing on recent developments, especially with respect to language, movies, and popular songs as modes of resistance to “Mainlandization” and different forms of censorship, Chu explores the challenges facing Hong Kong twenty years after its reversion to China as a Special Administrative Region. Highlighting locality and hybridity along postcolonial lines of interpretation, he also attempts to imagine the future of Hong Kong by utilizing Hong Kong studies as a method. Chu argues that the study of Hong Kong—the place where the impact of the rise of China is most intensely felt—can shed light on emergent crises in different areas of the world. As such, this book represents a consequential follow-up to the author’s Lost in Transition and a valuable contribution to international, area, and cultural studies.

“This is a wide-ranging and worthy sequel to Chu’s Lost in Transition. By juxtaposing a series of critical issues—urban development, self-writing, language education, and cultural production, among others—that have confounded those who care deeply about this former British colony, Chu offers his readers an intelligent and sensitive guide to connect and make sense of the various debates, and he places the conundrums Hong Kong faces in the contexts of both the limits of neoliberal capitalism and the ‘Age of China.’” — Leo K. Shin, author of The Making of the Chinese State: Ethnicity and Expansion on the Ming Borderlands
Chinese politics are at a crossroads as President Xi Jinping amasses personal power and tests the constraints of collective leadership.

In the years since he became general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party in 2012, Xi Jinping has surprised many people in China and around the world with his bold anti-corruption campaign and his aggressive consolidation of power.

Given these new developments, we must rethink how we analyze Chinese politics—an urgent task as China now has more influence on the global economy and regional security than at any other time in modern history.

Chinese Politics in the Xi Jinping Era examines how the structure and dynamics of party leadership have evolved since the late 1990s and argues that "inner-party democracy"—the concept of collective leadership that emphasizes deal making based on accepted rules and norms—may pave the way for greater transformation within China's political system. Xi's legacy will largely depend on whether he encourages or obstructs this trend of political institutionalization in the governance of the world's most populous and increasingly pluralistic country.

Cheng Li also addresses the recruitment and composition of the political elite, a central concern in Chinese politics. China analysts will benefit from the meticulously detailed biographical information of the 376 members of the 18th Central Committee, including tables and charts detailing their family background, education, occupation, career patterns, and mentor-patron ties.

Pulitzer Prize in General Nonfiction finalist

Winner of the 2014 National Book Award in nonfiction.

An Economist Best Book of 2014.

A vibrant, colorful, and revelatory inner history of China during a moment of profound transformation

From abroad, we often see China as a caricature: a nation of pragmatic plutocrats and ruthlessly dedicated students destined to rule the global economy-or an addled Goliath, riddled with corruption and on the edge of stagnation. What we don't see is how both powerful and ordinary people are remaking their lives as their country dramatically changes.

As the Beijing correspondent for The New Yorker, Evan Osnos was on the ground in China for years, witness to profound political, economic, and cultural upheaval. In Age of Ambition, he describes the greatest collision taking place in that country: the clash between the rise of the individual and the Communist Party's struggle to retain control. He asks probing questions: Why does a government with more success lifting people from poverty than any civilization in history choose to put strict restraints on freedom of expression? Why do millions of young Chinese professionals-fluent in English and devoted to Western pop culture-consider themselves "angry youth," dedicated to resisting the West's influence? How are Chinese from all strata finding meaning after two decades of the relentless pursuit of wealth?

Writing with great narrative verve and a keen sense of irony, Osnos follows the moving stories of everyday people and reveals life in the new China to be a battleground between aspiration and authoritarianism, in which only one can prevail.

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