chapter  4
43 Pages

A discourse construction based on a text of reference: A Manifesto for Chinese Culture

We now complete the methodological plan of our study of the construction of the discourse of New Confucianism by exploring the fourth, and final, focal point from which we planned to approach it; that is to say, by analysing a text of reference of New Confucianist thought. The text selected is the so-called Manifesto for Chinese Culture or, simply, the Manifesto of 1958. The fact that, as we shall see by analysing it, a good portion of its philosophical and ideological principles still constitute the basic structure of New Confucianism sufficiently justifies our qualifying it as the text of reference of the third epoch of Confucian humanism. Accordingly, we also consider it to be a founding text of the movement driving New Confucianist thought, since, in this declaration defending Chinese culture, Confucianism found, in the 1970s, a solid fulcrum from which it resumed the contemporary construction of its discourse, first begun in the 1920s. Of course, in modern contemporary history every discourse generates many texts, however, amongst the latter, there are always those that merit special consideration once they have become fundamental sources and, if they pass the test of time, they will form the canon of a certain knowledge. Time, therefore, will prove whether or not the Manifesto will enter the canon of New Confucianist thought. In any case, in the context of our multipurpose cooperation theory on discourse construction, we believe it indispensable, on the one hand, to examine some of the circumstances of the conception, drafting and publication of the Manifesto, as well as analyse in detail its philosophical and ideological content. Thus, we will show, amongst other things, that the thinkers who took the initiative and intellectual responsibility to speak to the international academic world, very specifically the Western academic world, to try to correct points of view deemed slanted and eliminate its prejudices about Chinese culture, also wished to recruit the largest number of adherents to the cause of New Confucianism. We are dealing here, therefore, with an explicit call to any intellectual area or academic discipline to cooperate in this cause. This is an attitude that casts little doubt as to its purpose of generating or driving forward an intellectual movement. The cooperative element is fundamental when evaluating the relevance of the Manifesto , since, in spite of the fact that its specific content reflects to a great extent the philosophical and ideological principles of the disciples of Xiong Shili (that is to say, the second generation of New Confucianists), its message, actually, constantly underlying its discourse, is that of multipurpose cooperation.