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R. Capurro, Renmin University 2010 1 The International Conference on China's Information Ethics Renmin University October 28-29, 2010 Beijing, China.

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Presentation on theme: "R. Capurro, Renmin University 2010 1 The International Conference on China's Information Ethics Renmin University October 28-29, 2010 Beijing, China."— Presentation transcript:

1 R. Capurro, Renmin University The International Conference on China's Information Ethics Renmin University October 28-29, 2010 Beijing, China

2 R. Capurro, Renmin University 中国信息社会之 " 道 " 与互文化信息伦理 The Dao of the Information Society in China and the Task of Intercultural Information Ethics Rafael Capurro International Center for Information Ethics (ICIE) Karlsruhe, Germany Full text: Chinese website: ICIE:

3 R. Capurro, Renmin University 中国信息社会之 " 道 " 与互文化信息伦理 本文以法国汉学家弗朗索瓦.于连的洞见为基楚来讨论直接 与间接话语在"远东"和"远西"的区别。这个区别主要 不是一个语法上或修辞上的区别,而是一个关于存在性的 区别。它涉及到人与世界的关系,并旨在为思考信息社会 的伦理道德问题提供一个互文化的基础。我认为"远西" 的信息道德观及其伦理思索强调直接话语的原则,而间接 话语的原则则构成"远东"人际交往的基础。在本文的第 一部分,我將会解释"远西"对直接与间接话语这个区别 的理解,然后在第二部分说明这个区别在"远东"的相关 性和差异,並在最后提出这个区别对中国信息社会及互文 化对话的重要性。 (Transl. Pak-Hang Wong)

4 R. Capurro, Renmin University Introduction Information ethics deals with the descriptive analysis and critical evaluation of moral norms and values within as well as between information societies.

5 R. Capurro, Renmin University Introduction Although such issues arise today mainly with regard to the digital medium, information ethics can and should be concerned with other media and epochs building the scope of what is being called intercultural information ethics.

6 R. Capurro, Renmin University Introduction This paper deals with the distinction between direct and indirect speech in the “Far East” and the “Far West” following key insights by French sinologist François Jullien. 于连的洞见为基楚来讨论直接与间接话语在 "远东"和"远西"的区别。

7 R. Capurro, Renmin University Introduction The distinction is not primarily a grammatical or rhetorical but an existential or moral one. 这个区别主要不是一个语法上或修辞上的区 别,而是一个关于存在性的区别。

8 R. Capurro, Renmin University Introduction It concerns the relation between man and world. It aims at providing a basis for thinking inter-culturally about ethical questions of the information society. 它涉及到人与世界的关系,并旨在为思考信 息社会的伦理道德问题提供一个互文化的 基础。

9 R. Capurro, Renmin University Introduction My argument is that information moralities and their ethical reflection in the “Far West” stress the principle of direct speech while in the “Far East” the principle of indirect speech builds the basis of human communication. This distinction should not be understood as an opposition. 我认为"远西"的信息道德观及其伦理思索强调直 接话语的原则,而间接话语的原则则构成"远东 "人际交往的基础。在本文的第一部分, 而间接 话语的原则则构成"远东"人际交往的基础。

10 R. Capurro, Renmin University Introduction Furthermore, there is a complex tradition of ethical reflection about this distinction. After explaining this distinction in the “Far West” in the first part, I show its relevance and difference in some classic texts of the “Far East,” particularly in the Chinese tradition, in the second part. 我將会解释"远西"对直接与间接话语这个区别的理解, 然后在第二部分说明这个区别在"远东"的相关性和差,

11 R. Capurro, Renmin University Introduction Finally, I draw some conclusions about the relevance of this distinction for the information society in China. 並在最后提出这个区别对中国信息社会及互 文化对话的重要性。

12 R. Capurro, Renmin University Direct and indirect speech in the "Far West" One source of the idea of freedom of speech in the Western tradition is the Greek concept of ‘parrhesia’ that has been analysed by French philosopher Michel Foucault. One source of the idea of freedom of speech in the Western tradition is the Greek concept of ‘parrhesia’ that has been analysed by French philosopher Michel Foucault.

13 R. Capurro, Renmin University Direct and indirect speech in the "Far West" What does ‘parrhesía’ exactly mean? According to Foucault, the ‘parrhesiastes’ is the one who says the truth to everybody.

14 R. Capurro, Renmin University Direct and indirect speech in the "Far West" He – and the use of masculine is important in this context of ancient Greece – wants to speak and communicate his thoughts as clear and engaged as possible within a context that can be risky or even dangerous for him.

15 R. Capurro, Renmin University Direct and indirect speech in the "Far West" The Athenian ‘agora’ is the place where this kind of free speech appears for the first time in the “Far West.” Source: ra_of_Athens6.jpg ra_of_Athens6.jpg ra_of_Athens6.jpg

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17 R. Capurro, Renmin University Direct and indirect speech in the "Far West" There is a difference between this kind of political freedom of speech and the Socratic one that takes place in a face-to- face dialogue and deals with the life of the person involved. Raphael: The School of Athens (Vatican, Stanza della Segnatura) (Socrates, Xenophon, Eschines and Alcibiades) Source:

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19 R. Capurro, Renmin University Direct and indirect speech in the "Far West" Along epicurean and stoic traditions we find the concept of ‘parrhesia’ in the New Testament in the context of accusations against Jesus because of breaking the mosaic law. Rembrandt: Christ and the Woman Taken in Adultery, 1644, National Gallery, London „Christ's forgiveness of the adulteress is described in the Gospel of St John, chapter 8. Rembrandt shows the moment at which the Pharisees, attempting to outwit Jesus, ask him whether, in accordance with the Mosaic law, she should be stoned to death. Jesus replies 'He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone'.“ Source:

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21 R. Capurro, Renmin University Direct and indirect speech in the "Far West" The tradition of direct speech in the “Far West” is important but not exclusive. The philosopher Leo Strauss has analyzed the distinction between esoteric and exoteric writing.

22 R. Capurro, Renmin University Direct and indirect speech in the "Far West" Strauss defends pre-modern philosophers whose exoteric writings had not only a general educational purpose but also a more important philosophical one concerning that “which is indicated only between the lines.”

23 R. Capurro, Renmin University Direct and indirect speech in the "Far West" In the transition from the Middle Ages to Modernity a new structure of European society based on nobility is developed and with it also a new standards of communication based on other moral norms and values.

24 R. Capurro, Renmin University Direct and indirect speech in the "Far West" Although communication morality in the “Far West” is based mainly on the principle of direct speech we should not oversee different kinds of refractions and mutations of this principle along history in order also to avoid a simplistic unilinear cultural evolution. Although communication morality in the “Far West” is based mainly on the principle of direct speech we should not oversee different kinds of refractions and mutations of this principle along history in order also to avoid a simplistic unilinear cultural evolution.

25 R. Capurro, Renmin University Direct and indirect speech in the "Far East" The art of indirect speech pervades China’s politics, economy as well as literary and philosophic traditions. Relations and not individuals build the core of communication where the goal is attaining harmony through negotiation.

26 R. Capurro, Renmin University Direct and indirect speech in the "Far East" The art of negotiation in the "Far East" is not based on the idea of mastering the opponent by being basically against him or her preponderant although not exclusive in the "Far West," but of convincing the other.

27 R. Capurro, Renmin University Direct and indirect speech in the "Far East" Direct speech becomes less important when the goal is to avoid conflicts similar to the style français of French diplomacy and negotiation already mentioned.

28 R. Capurro, Renmin University Direct and indirect speech in the "Far East" According to Jullien one key difference between China and Greece consists in the fact that monarchy and its surrogates have been the only political system in China.

29 R. Capurro, Renmin University Direct and indirect speech in the "Far East" But China has developed a kind of political practice giving intellectuals a certain kind of legitimacy in order to provide the well functioning of monarchic power, namely the admonition of the sovereign in the name of morality.

30 R. Capurro, Renmin University Direct and indirect speech in the "Far East" Under the guise of picture puzzle it is possible to express an opinion that can be tolerated by the sovereign similar to the court jester in the Western tradition. Court jester (Source: Puzzle (Source:

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33 R. Capurro, Renmin University Direct and indirect speech in the "Far East" What is not good about this compromise between the intellectuals and power is the fact that language distortion is not also regarded as something normal but is even considered a higher value.

34 R. Capurro, Renmin University Direct and indirect speech in the "Far East" But, on the other hand, it must be acknowledged that indirect speech plays a positive role in Confucius “Analects”.

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37 R. Capurro, Renmin University Direct and indirect speech in the "Far East" The master addresses the pupil by pointing to what is at stake. The goal of teaching, like in most ethics, is not learning but doing. This is the reason why speaking remains on the background.

38 R. Capurro, Renmin University Direct and indirect speech in the "Far East" “The Master said, ‘Fine words and an insinuating appearance are seldom associated with true virtue’." 瀛愭洶锛氣 € 滃阀瑷 € 浠よ壊锛岄矞鐭d粊锛佲 €? (Confucius, 2004, I, 3 銆婂鑰 ?- Xue Er 銆 / Studying) 孔丘 K ǒ ng Qiū : 論語 Lún Y ǔ / Analects: Confucius teaching at the Apricot Forum Source:

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40 R. Capurro, Renmin University Direct and indirect speech in the "Far East" 暑往寒來,春復秋;夕陽西下,水東流。將軍戰馬,今何在?野草閑花,滿地愁。

41 R. Capurro, Renmin University Direct and indirect speech in the "Far East" „Summer goes, winter comes, spring turns to fall; Stars and sun set in the west, water flows eastward. Generals fighting on horseback: now where are they? Wild grass blocks out the flowers, covering the earth in gloom.“

42 R. Capurro, Renmin University Direct and indirect speech in the "Far East" The model of a Confucian information society and the predominance of indirect speech serving the power seem to be opposed to the Western model that gives individual freedom the highest value.

43 R. Capurro, Renmin University Direct and indirect speech in the "Far East" In the “Far West” the opposite form of blockage seems to endanger societal development, namely information overload for individuals and corporations as well as some forms of general and open struggle.

44 R. Capurro, Renmin University Direct and indirect speech in the "Far East" A possible way out of both models can be found in the taoist view of indirect speech.

45 R. Capurro, Renmin University Direct and indirect speech in the "Far East" At the beginning of Laozi’s “Daodejing” ( 道 德经 ) it is said: “A dao that can be defined. Is not the eternal dao, Concepts that can be conceived, Are not eternal concepts” (Laozi, 2002, Ch. 1, 1-4) Laozi (Source:

46 R. Capurro, Renmin University Direct and indirect speech in the "Far East" 道可道, dào kě dao 道可道, dào kě dao 非常道。 fēi cháng dào. 非常道。 fēi cháng dào. 名可名, míng* kě míng, 名可名, míng* kě míng, 非常名。 fēi cháng míng. 非常名。 fēi cháng míng. Source:

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48 R. Capurro, Renmin University Direct and indirect speech in the "Far East" Laozi’s style is based on the principle of giving hints or pointing to something, avoiding one sidedness or partiality in order to keep himself in a kind of “global indifference” (Jullien) since the “greatest forms are without shape” (Laozi 2002, Ch. 41, 17).

49 R. Capurro, Renmin University Direct and indirect speech in the "Far East" Instead of a global information morality ruling (digital) communication from a fixed perspective, the Taoist sage would probably prefer to look at it as within the “dao” in order to keep it in movement within a never-ending creative process.

50 R. Capurro, Renmin University Direct and indirect speech in the "Far East" While we in the “Far West” use different linguistic tools such as myths and allegories in order to deal with the unspeakable, for Chinese master Chuang Tzu ( 庄子 / 莊子 ) words are fishing stakes. Chuang Tzu Butterfly dream: 昔者莊周夢為胡蝶,蘧蘧然莊周也,自喻適志與! 不知蝶也。俄然覺,則栩栩然蝶也。不知蝶之夢 為莊周與,莊周之夢為蝶與?蝶與莊周,則必有 分矣。此之谓物化。 Source:

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52 R. Capurro, Renmin University Direct and indirect speech in the "Far East" “Fishing-stakes are employed to catch fish; but when the fish are got, the men forget the stakes. Snares are employed to catch hares, but when the hares are got, men forget the snares.

53 R. Capurro, Renmin University Direct and indirect speech in the "Far East" Words are employed to convey ideas; but when the ideas are apprehended, men forget the words. Fain would I talk with such a man who has forgot[en] the words!” (Chuang Tzu 26, 11)

54 R. Capurro, Renmin University Direct and indirect speech in the "Far East" A fixed morality is endangered of becoming separate from the “dao”. Lao Tzu brings fresh air into the symbolic sphere. His ethics is a symptom that morality is becoming fixed and autonomous.

55 R. Capurro, Renmin University Direct and indirect speech in the "Far East" There is a way “beyond happiness” consisting in “vital nourishing” (“yang sheng”) (Chuang Tzu, Chapters 3 and 19; Jullien 2005).

56 R. Capurro, Renmin University Direct and indirect speech in the "Far East" Nourishing is the basic verb and norm of life. According to Chinese thinking, life should be long and healthy. By contrast, in the “Far West” eternal life is seen as a goal at the end of a linear process.

57 R. Capurro, Renmin University Direct and indirect speech in the "Far East" “Vital nourishing” means learning to give up the will to live as a fixed idea or not to hang on it.

58 R. Capurro, Renmin University Direct and indirect speech in the "Far East" From this perspective we should avoid blocking the digital infosphere, for instance through information overload or censorship, letting information circulate and feed our life.

59 R. Capurro, Renmin University Prospects What is the goal of this kind of analysis for intercultural debates on information ethics? First of all, to learn from each other.

60 R. Capurro, Renmin University Prospects Western information societies can learn from Taoism and the spirit of the “Far East” not only on how to deal with blocking processes based on fixed moralities, exacerbating the primacy of direct speech.

61 R. Capurro, Renmin University Prospects Information societies in the “Far East” might learn from direct speech, individual freedom and autonomy as correctives of an idealized harmony that might block social changes.

62 R. Capurro, Renmin University Prospects In both cases we should be careful not to oversee the complexity and richness of our traditions including the difference itself between “Far East” and “Far West” that is nothing but a starting point for intercultural information ethics that should be both theoretical and empirical.

63 R. Capurro, Renmin University Prospects Makoto Nakada has done and is doing pioneer work in this area.

64 R. Capurro, Renmin University Prospects Intercultural information ethics should not be identified with a universal code of morality for the global information society but as a global space of reflection where we can put into question what is morally and ethically given for granted within different cultural backgrounds.

65 R. Capurro, Renmin University Prospects The World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) proclaimed an inclusive information society and the overcoming of the digital divide within and between nations (WSIS 2003).

66 R. Capurro, Renmin University Prospects This can be considered, on the one hand, as a Kantian “regulative idea” or a universal ideal for the digital era.

67 R. Capurro, Renmin University Prospects But, on the other hand, the history of media and literature provides examples of information and communication ideals both as utopias and dystopias that should be critically analized both in the “Far West” and the “Far East.” 道可道﹐非常道。

68 R. Capurro, Renmin University 谢谢


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