Confucius and Modernity

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News in the field of technology? Once, people used to look at the US, now the new Makkah for the hi-tech is Shenzhen, China. There, some tech giants (Huawei, DJI and Tencent) have their headquarters. There, Huaqiangbei has its home: the biggest market for technological devices in the world, which, thanks to its dizzying numbers, has been renamed the Silicon Valley of China. Innovation and modernity are words that usually go together and have their birthplace in the West. In fact, Enlightenment, the scientific revolution and modern state were born in Europe. The process was long, first the secularization of the society and then the centralization of the man until modern and consumer society arose. 

For a long time, the perspective was to consider the European state as the model for society to which everybody should have aspired because it is modern, more developed, the best of all possible societies. But is it true? What do we mean with modern society? Is it possible to create a society with different historical and cultural values and reach the same result? And then, is really that the result to aspire to?

For instance, the concept of modernity linked to Chinese society has been hotly debated. The Chinese huge economic, infrastructure and technological development of last decades has stunned the majority of people, or better those who know little about China. What have people wondered for a long time as if it was possible to combine Confucian tradition and Western individual freedom. Confucian values can be summed up in two concepts: 仁(rén) e(lǐ). The first one, the union of the character man (人) and two (二), evokes what it is distinctive of men with regards to relations. It is the love/respect which should characterized all social relations. It is not an abstract concept, but a particular moral attitude based on reciprocity, which has the power to transform social and family relations into ethical ones. Filial piety, fraternal respect, and proper respect for elders are for sure important values of the Way (道) coming from mos maiorum to which every society should refer to in order to create a harmonious and fair coexistence.