chapter  8
8 Pages


Zhang Rulun, for instance, has portrayed the debate as a critique of extreme materialism and globalisation and argued that China must adopt a ‘humanistic concern’ to reflect on the purpose of socio-economic development (Zhang Rulun and Wang Dingding, 2005; Zhang Rulun, 2009). He even declares that the debate foresaw the social damage caused by jettisoning ethical values and allowing the triumph of unethical profiteering, citing the food safety crises as evidence (Zhang Rulun, 2009). From a different standpoint, in 2003 Yuan Weishi linked the concept of the ‘spirit of the Humanities’ with political freedom, human rights, economic liberty and their constitutional protection (Yuan Weishi, 2005). However, the core reflexive issues that defined the original debate – the appropriate role for the humanists, their relations with power, the market and the nation – no longer seem to preoccupy this group of participants. Based on these texts as well as my interviews, they appear more concerned with issues such as equality, rights and economic reform, as well as with the cultural implications of globalisation. Others simply refrain from discussing socio-political issues.