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Steve Brett

Steve Brett

Steve is the co-founder of 3rd Space.

Tu Weiming: Spiritual Humanism: An Emerging Global Discourse

Steve Brett

Steve Brett

Steve is the co-founder of 3rd Space.

In this video, Professor Tu Weiming, versed in eastern and western thought, gives a beautifully articulate and cogent talk on the need for Spiritual Humanism, which he sees as offering a counter-balance to the inadequacy of our secular modern era to provide a “proper compass for human flourishing.”

In a “de-spirited” modernity that “doesn’t take either religion or ecology seriously”, he suggests what is needed is a “holistic humanist vision” – one that is able to integrate the self, community, nature and heaven. In Confucian humanism, the highest aspiration for human beings is to be “the unity of heaven and humanity,” where humans are not merely creatures, but partners in the cosmic process. He sees this “anthropocosmic” understanding as a corrective to the instrumental rationality and anthropocentrism of the modern mentality.

What particularly caught our attention at 3rdSpace, is Tu Weiming’s call for a new form of dialogic wisdom; one that can meet the challenge of the convergence of cultures in today’s world, by responding to “our need for rootedness as well as self-transcendence”. He sees modern rationalism as often incompatible with the kind of patience and openness required for this kind of intercivilisational dialogue, where the capacity to enter another’s consciousness, allows us to experience their values within their own perspective. He sees western ‘universal’ values as needing to be enriched by the universal values of other cultures, asserting that “the precondition for harmony is difference.”

What it takes to come to terms with the completely different ways that different cultures perceive the world, according to Tu Weiming, is not “deductive logic”, but what Confucianism calls “self-cultivation”. This is a form of spiritual discipline that is connected and responsive to all aspects of life, and world. When dialogue based on this, takes place within an “ever-expanding network of relationships”, the result is an “ever-developing complexity of consciousness”, one that doesn’t detract from personal identity, but rather “enhances the interiority of each individual”.

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