“Open Structure”: The Contemporary Interpretation of Daoism Inspired by the Media Movement (32)

Further, the term “Structure” means that an intercommunicative and intertwined connection between human beings – the cognitive subject and the “others” is to be constructed with the condition of having in an open perspective for the “truth”. The aim of bringing up the new theory is not to establish a closed knowledge system like Western scientism does. We know that most scholars, theorists and thinkers get used to construct logical deductive argumentation and create new concept(s) to explain their theories for analyzing, researching and concluding various phenomena on the earth. Here, we are not doing the same thing like that: “Open Structure” is not a theoretical attempt to produce any content of knowledge or to solidify the knowledge apparatus that cannot be challenged or criticized. On the contrary, the promotion of “Open Structure” aims at reemphasizing the original relationship between all beings being understood, encouraging the essential development of human concern on the “truth” by minimizing any intervention from all forms of power.

(See: The Theory and Practice of Anti-Globalization Movement: Case Studies of the Independent Media in the Chinese Societies – Hong Kong and Taiwan. Bonn: Bonn University. 2014)

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“Open Structure”: The Contemporary Interpretation of Daoism Inspired by the Media Movement (31)

“Open Structure” is of an experiment for interpreting a Daoist spirit in the contemporary knowledge world, offering an alternative vision of understanding the possible connotation of the whole human knowledge that the nature of the theory is dissimilar to that of the intellectual hegemonies empowered by Western scientism. Here, the term “Open” means not using the logic of exclusion to construct our understanding on the natural world. For example, we could have doubt or prejudice against new phenomena, intending to define them as “false” or “untrue” or “inexistent” with “scientific” methodologies endorsed by power. This is what the logic of exclusion exactly is. “Open Structure” covers all existent and potential knowledge, trying to do nothing with the correctness of them for creating space for us to touch the “genesis”, to experience the life reality without any kind of “standardized reason” in order to realize an inclusive knowledge potentiality. To put it simply, it is to let us know what the “thing” is by following the Nature’s eye. From the point of view of Daoism, all beings are equally understood as the components of the Nature, even if any distinctive characteristics are attached on them. Inspired by the Daoist logic, the theory of “Open Structure” is to build up a philosophical approach to including all existing and potential knowledge to a greatest extent. As we have analyzed, “Dao” cannot be standardized by human knowledge because “Dao” cannot be exhausted by words, by language which is commonly used as a discretionary instrument to understand the abundant surrounding. Some must be lost when the meaning delivering car is moving. On the other hand, no being exists outside the realm of “Dao” because “Dao” itself does not exclude anything: “Dao” includes the whole creation, playing a role as the “principle” of the changing of the universe. In fact, the practice of exclusion for knowledge making is a human behaviour for establishing a fixed “ultimate worldview” for shifting all beings’ original destiny from following the Nature to serving the expansion of power.

(See: The Theory and Practice of Anti-Globalization Movement: Case Studies of the Independent Media in the Chinese Societies – Hong Kong and Taiwan. Bonn: Bonn University. 2014)

“Open Structure”: The Contemporary Interpretation of Daoism Inspired by the Media Movement (30)

Here, we would like to present a new theory called “Open Structure (開放結構)” for establishing an alternative thinking approach to interpreting the right epistemological relationship between all existing beings equally and openly. To follow the theory’s logic, we should take this first step for knowledge making: to view all human understanding as the numerous pieces of a “jigsaw”, as the ingredients of the existentiality of the whole creation produced by human beings’ thinking on the entire universe. Under this reasoning umbrella, an intersubjective and interinclusive relationship between all “knowledge pieces” can be ensured and maintained. The most important point is: we should not intentionally or unintentionally exclude any potential “unknown” existences or phenomena from our epistemological horizon and should not build up any realms of “knowledge” for any purpose in the “Open Structure”. Because of this open-minded attitude toward all existences, power would not have a place to live and its dominative influence on the ongoing development of human intellectual consciousness would be effectively reduced and, at the end, eliminated. This is an elementary deliberation of the theory of “Open Structure”.

(See: The Theory and Practice of Anti-Globalization Movement: Case Studies of the Independent Media in the Chinese Societies – Hong Kong and Taiwan. Bonn: Bonn University. 2014)

“Open Structure”: The Contemporary Interpretation of Daoism Inspired by the Media Movement (29)

Moreover, the Daoist characteristics of the Chinese media activisms remind us to go back to the realm of Chinese intellectual tradition for finding out valuable to help tackle various civilized issues of modern China when we have realized the fact that the form of the issues is related to the heavy impact of today’s Western alienated civilization. Daoism is a “trans-era” philosophical thought that its metaphysical character gives a large room for us to open up a new thinking horizon for viewing the “others” in an equalitarian sense, for improving the epistemological apparatus built up by modern thinkers. Here, we intend to consider this inspiration brought by one of the “Three Teachings” as a re-enlightening possibility of Chinese intellectual culture in the age of globalization. By revealing the dilemma of the Western ideological civilization connected with human egoism and desire in the above paragraphs, the door for a modern interpretation of the Chinese traditional thought is completely opened.

(See: The Theory and Practice of Anti-Globalization Movement: Case Studies of the Independent Media in the Chinese Societies – Hong Kong and Taiwan. Bonn: Bonn University. 2014)

“Open Structure”: The Contemporary Interpretation of Daoism Inspired by the Media Movement (28)

By researching on the independent media activisms of “Inmediahk.net” and “Coolloud.org” in Hong Kong and Taiwan, we discover that the media activists’ ideas, social opinions and acting standpoints on social movement practice have certain Daoist characteristics. If we follow the social science methodology to develop our research, a philosophical difficulty would be unavoidably made: the relationship between “practice” and “theory” of the media social movement cannot be well clarified because the two independent media do not carry out their social movement practices based on a single fixed theory or principle. On the contrary, they are developing their activisms independently and realizing their activistic ideas on the media movements based on the ongoing development of the Chinese societies in a flexible way. This fact reminds us it is crucial to construct a new alternative approach to understanding the vicissitudinous nature of the evolution of the human realm. The so-called “scientific” approaches, such as establishing a theoretical model, standardizing the understanding on particular phenomena, using the statistics and inductive reasoning, naming the “known”, etc., are all the means to exclude what the things “cannot be understood”, to pass over what we actually care about from our sight. Therefore, it can be expected that our new understanding approach would not be developed with the logic of exclusion.

(See: The Theory and Practice of Anti-Globalization Movement: Case Studies of the Independent Media in the Chinese Societies – Hong Kong and Taiwan. Bonn: Bonn University. 2014)

“Open Structure”: The Contemporary Interpretation of Daoism Inspired by the Media Movement (27)

According to Needham’s opinion, Chinese people tend to see the Nature as “an organism”. In addition, Yu adds the “mankind and the whole creation is a single entire body” idea is a basic understanding of the Chinese on the fundamental relationship between the Nature and human beings. These arguments, which reveal how the Chinese views the so-called “others”, suggest the essence of the development of Chinese traditional culture is totally different from that of the Western civilization. At the beginning, Chinese people do not place themselves higher than other lives and does not see the Nature as “a mechanism” or a passive existence for humanity. On the contrary, they generally believe that all creatures on earth, including themselves, are part of the Nature and have their lives based on the Nature’s nurture. From the point of view of the Chinese, the Nature is not the “others”, but is the essential base of the development of the whole creation. This fundamental stance on the Nature with the logics of equalitarianism and of “non-exclusion”, in fact, is compatible with Daoism’s worldview and philosophical outlook. This finding does encourage us to develop a new and open thinking approach to deconstructing the “complexity” of present human civilization and to tackling the challenge of globalization.

(See: The Theory and Practice of Anti-Globalization Movement: Case Studies of the Independent Media in the Chinese Societies – Hong Kong and Taiwan. Bonn: Bonn University. 2014)

“Open Structure”: The Contemporary Interpretation of Daoism Inspired by the Media Movement (26)

For the second point, we have understood, by following the perspective of anti-globalization movement, that global powers’ political consensus for the unlimited expansion of the rich’s wealth is the core problem of the present human civilization. This is related to the “firm belief” of “having no relationship with the ‘others’”, or called “exceptionalism”, and egoism of the alienated human beings. According to our study, we realize that many popular ideologies which are directing human development are mostly produced by the West, especially the U.S. and its allies. Through colonialism and imperialism, the abstracts had been propagated to the East, affecting the historic development of modern China. Nevertheless, it should be noted that Chinese traditional culture, originally, does not view the Nature as the “others”, dissimilar to the Western civilization fed by the egoistic and exceptionalistic logics:

Joseph Needham (李約瑟) argues that Chinese people see the Nature as an organism, not a mechanism. This opinion is generally acceptable. …For explaining the relationship between humans and the Nature, we perhaps can use this description: ‘mankind and the whole creation is a single entire body (人與天地萬物為一體)’ to conclude the basic opinion of the Chinese on this issue. [1]

(See: The Theory and Practice of Anti-Globalization Movement: Case Studies of the Independent Media in the Chinese Societies – Hong Kong and Taiwan. Bonn: Bonn University. 2014)

[1] See: Yu, Ying Shih (1999). The Modern Interpretation of Chinese Thought Tradition. Taipei: Linking. p. 22.

“Open Structure”: The Contemporary Interpretation of Daoism Inspired by the Media Movement (25)

About the first point, we have argued that there is a significant position of the Chinese thinking tradition in modern China based on the analytic discussion on Yu’s theory of “introversive” Chinese culture. According to Yu, the “Three Teachings” has affected the qualitative development of Chinese traditional civilization and Chinese people’s thinking logic. Among the three, Buddhism had been propagated to China from India since the Han period. Then, the religious thought entered into the long-term process of localization with Chinese traditional culture and became a rooted philosophy which affects the custom and way of life of the Chinese. Confucianism, according to our argument, has been intentionally promoted by the ruling as one of the main values of Chinese society since the ancient because it has a strong character of moral teaching, integrating family, society and state as one hierarchical imaginative structure that benefits the continuation of the dominance of political power over people. Although Daoism could have a role in contributing to the forming of the “introversiveness”, the thinking tradition is not valued by the upper because of its “renouncing the present” character.

Since the Chinese Economic Reform started from the late 1970s, capitalism (called “socialism with Chinese characteristics” by the Communist Party), materialism and utilitarianism (e.g. Deng’s “cat’s colour” theory) had become the invasive ideologies which were and are weakening the influential position of the “Three Teachings”, directing the development of Chinese society and making various impacts on the people’s life. For this, many do have reflection on the situation. For example, a counteracting social force against any capitalistic developments has emerged: the independent media activisms in Hong Kong and Taiwan have a clear stance on opposing the monopolization of public space deterring people from publicizing their dissenting voices with the Daoist characteristics. This finding justifies the substantial influence of the Chinese thinking tradition on the development of Chinese civilization in globalization, evidencing that “ancient China” and “modern China” are not separate, but should be seen as a single coherent civilization current in human society. Of course, it seems the westernization (or “americanization”) of modern China is going to be deepened. However, Chinese traditional culture still plays a significant role as a catalyzing force in pushing the developing of the nature of the Chinese nowadays. This reminds us it is necessary to construct a new perspective to view and evaluate the present westernizing Chinese world and the significant influence of Chinese thinking tradition on the modern society at the same level: we should have an impartial attitude toward the nature of Chinese traditional civilization and the “usefulness” of the Western thinking logic and ought not to follow the “mainstream” to exaggerate the Western intellect is “overwhelming” the Chinese spirit. In fact, the global rise of anti-globalization movement has clearly told that the present human civilization under the West’s control has its serious dilemma for all people around the world.

(See: The Theory and Practice of Anti-Globalization Movement: Case Studies of the Independent Media in the Chinese Societies – Hong Kong and Taiwan. Bonn: Bonn University. 2014)

“Open Structure”: The Contemporary Interpretation of Daoism Inspired by the Media Movement (24)

Besides responding to political powers’ ideological manipulation, the social activism contributed by the Hong Kong and Taiwan independent media reminds people to have more commitment to thinking and changing the social reality not based on the filtered information fed by the “top” but grounded upon their own knowledge and cultural logic. This humanist spirit helps us open up two important thinking approaches to furthering the scope of our research:

(1) The two independent media’s activistic characteristics reflect the crucial role of the Chinese traditional thought – Daoism in influencing the ongoing shaping of modern China;

(2) The media movement practices encourage us to produce a new theory called “Open Structure” to try to deconstruct the closed human consciousness bound by power and greed, which represents the irrational face of the “spiritual beings”, in order to respond to the dilemma of the present civilization of humanity. In fact, the theory of “Open Structure” is a modern interpretation of Daoism.

(See: The Theory and Practice of Anti-Globalization Movement: Case Studies of the Independent Media in the Chinese Societies – Hong Kong and Taiwan. Bonn: Bonn University. 2014)

“Open Structure”: The Contemporary Interpretation of Daoism Inspired by the Media Movement (23)

As we can see, the manipulation of ideology has been a “universal” political operation in both Chinese and Western civilizations. However, the nature of this operation is against “Dao”, negatively impacting the constructive development of human society as a whole. On this issue, the Nature does have its clear position: the rise of anti-globalization movement around the globe is one of the representative examples embodying the natural “ecology” of humanity. The global social movement, which reflects the spirit of reverting to the life based on people’s real need, opposes the artificial growth of power and greed and helps reveal the character of the ideological manipulation against the establishment of the “ideal world”. Today, human society is still one of the worlds relying on the nurture of the Nature, not the “remote place” out of the Nature. When we explore the modern human reality without wearing the anthropocentric classes, we would understand that the ongoing wars and conflicts between races, religions and interest groups with natural “disasters” and other extreme phenomena are just the sincere outcome of the existentiality of “Dao” rearranging the problematic human civilization.

(See: The Theory and Practice of Anti-Globalization Movement: Case Studies of the Independent Media in the Chinese Societies – Hong Kong and Taiwan. Bonn: Bonn University. 2014)