Globalization and the Moral Issue


V.V. Maliavin

Institute of Russian and Slavic Studies,

Tamkang University, Taiwan, ROC.


1. The modernist genealogy of globalization


Globalization can and does mean very different things depending on how we look upon it. One thing, though, remains certain: it cannot have just one meaning, be it a triumph of universal Reason or a smooth expansion of the modern Western civilization. In fact, the concept of globalization at a closer look reveals  a profound crisis of  that particular type of Western mentality which for the first time in human history claimed universality on the global scale. I mean of course the pattern of thinking and civilization that is peculiar to the so called modernity or, more vaguely, modernization process. Let me remind in brief the main facts about  modernity’s historical nature.

We can safely assume that the starting point of modernization was the reduction of man’s Lebenswelt to the homogenous and fully rational subject. The latter by projecting on the exterior world its clear and universal “light of reason” changes it into the “subject of thinking” and reshapes it in its own image and likeness. So modernity rejected living spontaneity, cultural traditions and wholeness of existence in the name of critical reflection. This essentially tragic imperialism of consciousness actually pretended to rule over human life, in accordance with the classical dictum, by dividing humanity into two irreconcilably opposed dimensions: the enlightened and the ignorant, the civilized and the primitive. Modernity was born of violence and through violence – initially internal one but always paralleled by the exterior conquest of natural world, including “immature peoples”.

The growing mastery of human beings over themselves prompted many liberal scholars in the West, as well as many non-liberal ones like Karl Marx, to see in modernization the cause for human self-liberation. This conclusion is not to be reached so easily, though. A startling discovery precipitated already by Friedrich Nietzche was that the very will to the domination over the nature enslaves man himself: under the spell of what came to be called “metaphysics of production” man can be free  from and for anything except his very will to be free. Seized by this  irresistible  drive towards the universal domination: man, on the one hand, destroys the individual qualities of things and, on the other hand, loses his own individuality. He finds himself trapped in a totalitarian subjectivity  of a man-machine continuum which imposes its own rules of functioning on that “autonomous subject” depriving the latter of its freedom. In the final account, the technological system brings about what is sometimes called “a total” relation of humankind to being – a kind of a pure, or absolute, self-transcending activity. At this high point of modernity man’s image itself starts to bifurcate: the man ceases to be a unified personality he used to be in the early modern times and appears rather both as a superman endowed with a titanic “will to power” and a human animal which is forced to serve this very will and, because of lack of autonomy, is virtually obsessed by the animal side of his existence. His whole existence seems to be determined by the forces of the “catastrophic anarchy”, a nihilistic self-negation.

Taken on its global scale, therefore, the unfolding of modernity has obvious limits. It is oriented, as Hegel predicted, towards “the end of history” or, in other words, it is bound to lose its actual object, i.e. the strategy of rationalization, and finally come, as it were, to a standstill represented, for lack of adequate means, by some sort of  “simulacra”, “seduction”, “free negativity”. This triumph of playful irresponsibility means in fact modernity’s falling back on itself, a retreat from representation to the generating matrix, an ongoing implosion which bogs down, to  in J. Baudrillard’s words , to “accelerating in the void”. But already at the turn of the 20th century the Russian avant-guard artist K. Malevich declared that human thinking was destined to venture into the “subject-less world”, and a final outcome of human perfection will be the “absolute laziness”. Technology creates power, but power eliminates technology leaving man suspended between total alienation and the immediate grasp of his nature. Such is a peculiar ambiguity of the Western modernity – at least examined in the nietzschean perspective.

Let me repeat: modernity is not a messenger of some universal human nature. On the contrary, it is a companion to the deepest crisis of human identity for the measure of modernist humanity is man’s negation of oneself, a “dehumanization”. Modernity’s essence is not some unity of humanity, immediately perceived or postulated, but a pure difference in existence, a continuing split within the Self violently and no less violently concealed. It represents “the victory of Reason” that slips into the madness of  irrevocable enmity. Indeed, this classical modernity, after reaching its culmination in the totality of human technology or technocratic humanity, suddenly transforms into its dialectical opposite – a  postmodernity. The latter, defined in the most concise way, corresponds to the  disclosure of modernity’s nihilistic essence.  In the works of its most renowned advocates in France, such as M. Foucault, J. Derrida,   J.-F. Lyotard, J. Deleuze, J. Baudrillard et al.,  postmodernity is celebrated as meaningless violation of (equally meaningless) regulations, a life in the void, an endless irony and, not least of all, a triumph of particularity. We should keep in mind the nihilistic background of this esthetic outlook: postmodernity mean the dissociation of spirit and matter, soul and body, it is the sign of the “radical alienation of man from the organic states of being” (E. Halton). It marks the level when negativity – a real essence of modernity – starts negating itself. So postmodernity is the frustrated modernity that has lost its vigor in esthetical contemplation and has forgotten itself in play or, to be more precise, the semblance of a defying and dangerous actions  which are all the more daring because nothing is at stake and man alienated from being really runs no risk. The measure of postmodern playfulness is, in fact,  irresponsibility.

So postmodernity has realized an old prediction of Paul Valery who remarked back in 1919 that “European life will culminate in the infinitely rich nothing”. As for the meaning of human life, it  is associated by the post-modernist thinkers with all kinds of protest and deviation, such as  like  “nomadism of spirit” (J. Deleuze), “self-stylization” (M. Foucault), “seduction” (j. Derrida) etc.

Postmodern mentality revives interest in culture which was  practically  neglected by the classical modernity. This is understandable since culture is based on the notion of the self-sustained and eternally reproduced action rediscovered by the late modernity. Yet  the postmodern thought, being an outcome of human self-alienation, satisfies its esthetic interest mostly  on  various formal schemes, such as classifications, codes of behavior and related matters.  Politics itself is treated in postmodern literature as a manipulation of semiotic systems where power is located in the “information generating matrixes”.

This esthetical approach is a sure mark of indifference and can hardly contribute to the cross-cultural communication and understanding. Yet it does allow for plurality and equality of cultures and, what is even more important, it calls for the rediscovery of culture’s unique and absolute value  in human life. What it lacks is a sense of moral commitment  The absence of the ethical ideal of good life is the most deplorable  effect of modernization. Classical modernity did away with the authority of tradition and treated  morality as a set of rational norms and rules. Postmodernity  has rendered obsolete the moral abstractions of early modernity. It has brought into the foreground something much more vague and changeable:  “moral feelings”, “intuition” and above all esthetic taste. How are we to deal with this acute crisis of moral tradition?

Some scholars, especially in anglo-american world, are convinced that the particularistic turn of postmodern thinking is favorable for the revival of ethics. For instance, Z. Bauman argues that postmodernity creates a new ethical problematic because, firstly, it “rules out the setting of binding norms” so that “the agencies my be guided by their own purposes”; and, secondly,  it “shifts the center of gravity decisively from heteronomous control to self-determination”. Bauman continues: “In the absence of a universal model for self-improvement, or of a clear-cut hierarchy of models, the most excruciating choices agents face  are between life-purposes and values. Supra-individual criteria of propriety in the form of technical rationality do not suffice”. Bauman concludes: under postmodern condition “the agent is perforce not just an actor and decision-maker, but a moral subject”.

Bauman’s position is not without its flaws, however.  It rests on the same old individualism which was the cornerstone of classical modernity but eventually caused the crisis or, as postmodernists would argue, even a breakdown of normative morality. Why should “fully autonomous agent” choose to be moral subject  instead of pursuing  his or her personal interests? Such reasoning is no more logical than the calls of ecologists to care about environment for the sake of personal comfort. Yet a “postmodern condition” clearly presents a real moral challenge: one has to be a moral subject in the pluralistic world. To stop at maintaining the relativity of cultural “living worlds” would be for this subject no more than a comfortable trap. Such relativism will become a cover for indifference – by itself profoundly amoral. One can wonder as well, where will seriousness in human relations come from in the world of the postmodern “void”?

A creative response to the moral challenge posed by the postmodern globalization can only be the radicalization of ethical problematic, i.e. elevating morality to the status of the absolute imperative of human existence. One should bear in mind, though, that in the postmodern world this turn of mind can not be dissociated from the overall “culturalization” of human activity. Cultural values must acquire the weight of personal responsibility.

Apparently, the tendency towards what has just been called the radicalization of morality  is am indispensable condition of globalization. Suffice is to recall the idea of  “macro-ethics” or the “reverence for life” that play such an important role in the contemporary intellectual movements. Still, like Bauman’s position, they lack  the inner impetus for moral transformation. Such impetus can be found in  the modern existentialist philosophy. The most famous example is, perhaps,  the  so called “metaphysical ethics” created by French philosopher Emmanuel Levinas. Levinas constructs the ethics of  assymetrical relations with the “absolute Other” that constitutes the  meaning of human existence and precedes culture. What is this meaning which is antecedent to cultural norms?  Levinas calls it “Enigma” noting that this primordial riddle of existence summons to moral responsibility.  He explains: “To the idea of the Infinite only an extravagant response is possible. There has to be a “thought” that understands more  than it understands and… is capable to go beyond its death… The response to the Enigma’s summons is the generosity of sacrifice outside the known and the unknown, without calculation, for going on to infinity”.

This “first ethics” of Levinas exposes well the religious predicament of morality but it is not completely satisfactory precisely as the ethical teaching. Its relation to human sociality and even to cultural norms remains problematic. How can the link between the primordial revelation of the Other and practical experience be substantiated? To answer this question let us look for a more balanced position in the cultural heritage of the East.

2. Far Eastern Globality


It appears now that the Western modernity has made a strange kind of a circular movement: having started from total rejection of cultural tradition it came, via its postmodern turn, to the affirmation of cultural values and a  “pan-cultural” reality encompassing both politics and economy. It has discovered, as we have noticed already, the world of the infinitely rich variety of  being, though this  richness turns out to be “empty”.  About 20 years ago  L. Dumont suggested a model of global order in which the relationships between social entities serve the condition of their autonomy so that the unity of humanity and the uniqueness of human individuality complement each other.  This Leibnizian world fits perfectly the Taoist image of the universe as the infinite net  every knot of which encloses (virtually) all others. One may as well recall the Buddhist image of the universe as a string of pearls (standing for the individual moments of existence) where each pearl reflects all others. Reality in Chinese tradition is something both whole and absent – a sort of (W)holeness, so to speak.

One cannot help asking, what is there between the knots and pearls of the tissue of Being? We should, therefore, conceive behind appearances of the non-objective space-time continuum where the only transformation is the sheer shift of perspective. Such a symbolic reality brings together metaphysics and practice, but it affirms their identity  in an oblique way, beyond the opposition of ideas and things.  Now if postmodernity signals the “end of history”, then the real meaning of this event consists in discovering the priority of pure events and, therefore, ruptures in experience. That means, the situation of the “end of history” creates a new mode of temporality – essentially symbolic one    in which history is accumulated and compressed solely through the  contingency of things.  Postmodern globality is meta-historical: like the event of awakening it encompasses the eternity of dream in one fleeting moment. It demands, let me repeat, the restoration of the symbolic, ever absent but absolutely real, dimension of human experience.

These observations sufficiently explain, I believe, the relevance of the Far Eastern civilization to the issue of globalization. For this civilization presents in the most pure and consistent form the compelling power of culture in human life. Surely, both China and her neighbors did resort to the oppressively rationalist  ideologies of Western modernity  -- be they of a nationalist or communist brand. However, the age of ideology proved to be a transitory phase in their history. . In fact, Chinese civilization, as we shall see soon, did not develop  the conditions for the modernization of the Western type and  was opened only to the passive reception of  Western modernity, to be precise – to the degree that the technological project of the West suited the most urgent practical needs of economics and state administration. The coming of the postmodern globality with its denial of the former logo-centric worldview and its emphasis on the non-duality (both non-identity and non-differentiation) of sign and reality  have opened for the Far East the real prospects of globalization.  Yet the response of various Far Eastern countries to the challenge of globalization and their passage to the globalized world has been quite different. We should also inquire about the reasons of these  differences.

According to J. Baudrillard, in the Postmodern world “there is no more subject, no mere focal point, no more center or periphery… no more violence  or surveillance: only “information”, secret virulence, a chain reaction, a slow implosion and simulacra of spaces…”. This description fits very well the nature of reality in Chinese traditional thought. The latter addresses itself not so much to the contents of experience as to its qualitative presence, its  very “suchness”. In other words, it is interested not so much in the process of thinking per se, as in the  very limits of reflection. Consciousness here is neither a tabula raza nor a container but rather a vessel whose contents are flowing freely into the world. Its main qualities are emptiness (or rather the act of self-emptying), openness and mirror-like (non) translucency. The reality for Chinese Mind is just an event, i.e. the meeting and, moreover, mutual penetration of two self-transcending, or self-emptying things. In this abyss of the unconditioned metamorphose(s) every entity exists in and by its “otherness” just like in  Chinese landscape gardens the flowers are pictured by the white wall behind them or in the Taoist parable the life of philosopher Chuang Chou is lived through by a naive butterfly.  This  “subtle matching” (miao chi) or “spiritual encounter” (shen hui) of opposites constitutes  the very essence of human communication. It makes possible what ancient Chinese thinkers called "“he technique of the Heart"”(hsin shu)  that stands for a principle of human cooperation. This emphasis on the cultural factor in human activity is quite distinct from the predominance of the “technique of tools” in the Western civilization with its stress on the relations between subject and object.

The  ground (groundless)  of the absolute event is called in Chinese tradition The Great Void, or Chaos. Both terms are just tentative names or faute de mieux metaphors of the plenitude of being, the omnipresent and elusive environment that transcends ideas, representations, forms and substances. To be wise in Chinese thought means to be sensitive to the slightest changes in the totality of beings and to be understanding as mother and child understand each other – by a sort of tacit intuition beyond rational  knowledge. The secret of Chinese wisdom is the impeccable confidence in the creative potential of life. As for the appearances, they have the status of “shadows” or “traces” of reality that point in some obscure and roundabout way to the hidden force of changes. Yet, like the appearances in the postmodern world, they represent all there is – a conclusion that served the best apology for culture in the Confucian China: the physical universe  can indeed perish but the shadowy existence pertaining to cultural endeavors, the very principle of self-transformation will remain for ever. This is the most stubborn part of the “stubborn fact of Being”.

So Chinese tradition has developed an ingenious idea of practice as a “non-action”. The latter means an integral and integrating perspective in every action, an infinite efficiency in the finite act or, to borrow from J. Deleuze, “action adequate to Aeon” (such is the original meaning of that catchy word Kungfu  now greatly popular in the  West). “Non-action” has the character of nurturing, harmonizing, self-completing  but also self-forgetting, undoing, returning to the Beginning that precedes or rather anticipates  existence like a   grain presupposes a plant. Chinese “non-action” resonates to a certain degree with the  postmodern concept of a “subject-less activity” mentioned above.  The work in Chinese tradition has the immanent source and justifies itself; it is not a curse but, on the contrary, a condition for rejoicing. The Taoist philosopher Chuang-tzu defines the everyday activity of people as the state of the “Heavenly freedom” (tian fang).  The Chinese have luckily avoided both the nihilistic attitude  to work and the  question that has always haunted Western  mind: who will supervise the supervisor? The goal of thinking in China is  just “letting go everything” (fang hsia yi chie). Yet this “letting go” has the nature of moral perfection that brings the mind to the symbolical vortex of universal transformation.. The Chinese wisdom is neither knowledge nor technique but the unity of intuition and the virtuoso skill, i.e. of pure knowledge and pure action. It is the act of  seeing the seeing, walking in walking etc. and thus a rest in acting.. This means being sensitive  to the very “semen” of things, the minutest impulses of experience. It did not seem absurd to the scholars of old China to demand having one’s evil desires detected even before they become apparent in one’s mind!

This supra-sensitivity has eventually forced Chinese to refine all their social practices into the stylized gestures –  visible signs of the inner awareness and, thus a moral effort.  China’s cultural heritage represents the enormous repertoire of these typified forms of enlightened living (designated in Chinese by various terms: pin, ke, shi etc.). Appropriating these forms was an exercise in heightening one’s sensitivity and thus in moral perfection which is achieved through mind’s opening to the continuity of creative transformations – a real essence of life. This is achieved, let me repeat, by unlearning, going back to the matrix of experience – the  very condition of human sociality. The latter’s closest prototype were to be found in  the relations between the teacher and the disciple, i.e. a school as  “spiritual family”. The school is an example of, so to speak, a “vertical” form of sociality: it is a continuity of moments invested with the same quality of experience. As a social medium it represents the typified form of its founder’s existence.

The historical development of Chinese culture is marked by the striving to discern ever more subtle nuances of perceptions, to penetrate ever more deeply into  the differentiating faculty of consciousness. The cultural type-forms occupy in this process an intermediary position: they stand between the primordial Chaos of the Great Void (in Chinese: wu chi) and the Chaos of pure practice, utterly concrete and transient (tai chi). These two types of  Chaos – natural and cultural – are identical not by analogy but by the very limit of their existence, i.e. by the act of self-transformation. In this way culture and nature are united in Chinese tradition through the intermediary region of life enlightened, i.e.  transformed and exalted.

The historical limitations of this cultural pattern are determined by the failure to perceive the symbolic background of the typified forms of experience that constitute tradition. In the Ching period this failure caused a painful crisis of cultural identity that finally forced  the new intellectuals of China to discard traditional culture altogether.  At this point it would be interesting to compare the fate of China  with that of  Japan – a country that provides an example of seemingly more successful modernization within the domain of the Far Eastern civilization.

The Japanese culture, as far as Chinese influence is concerned, has been formed by the deliberate projection of China’s cultural forms (essentially typified  experiences) on external reality. One can point to numerous attempts at literal representation of  the essentially symbolic concepts of China, such as the practice of painting the picture with one stroke of brush or the reduction of  a dynamic “configuration of power” (shi) to a static form (kata) in the field of martial arts. A remarkable shift in cultural values occurred: symbolic realization, that famous Kungfu (a word notably absent in the Japanese vocabulary)  was substituted by the formal execution, a perfect performance as such, devoid of its symbolic depth. As a result, the Japanese cultural ideal was doomed to merge with the reality, whether objective or idealistic. To combat this tendency towards realistic representation the Japanese had to perceive external world as the most elaborate mask, a perfect illusion.. Life itself has been treated by the Japanese as the continuation of art – a move contrary, as we should remember, to the Chinese exaltation of enlightened life.  However, the impossibility to merge completely the symbolic and the actual dimensions of experience accounts for the strange mixture of cool detachment and intense anxiety so peculiar to the Japanese mentality.

Contrary to China, Japan’s cultural pattern easily succumbed to ideological interpretations. In modern times this provided a powerful impetus for molding the modern national identity and nationalist ideology in the Japanese society. For some Westerners it even served as the best model of a modernized world. A. KojèÛøTv was, to my knowledge, the first European philosopher who saw in Japanese culture the highest realization of Hegel’s negative action. He even predicted the future “japanazation” of the West though for him Japanese culture was devoid of humanistic contents. For KojèÛøTve  the triumph of negativity in Japan (exemplified by the cult of suicide) is a sign of snobbery which alone keeps the modernized man above the “animal” level of limitless consumption though for him there is nothing  humanistic in this attitude.  Yet there are no less good reasons to see in this “gracious negativity” (as defined by KojèÛøTve) a sign of despair at the impossibility of bringing together  the actual and the symbolic aspects of existence as well as an attempt to prove one’s authenticity in an utterly illusionary world. (Much of the contemporary terrorism, especially suicidal, seems to me the outcome of this loss of inner authenticity in late modernity.)  Historically, this trend exposes the collision of classical modernity and the postmodernity. Another facet of this situation is the flexibility in dealing with the  foreign cultural codes. Such capacity, let us make clear, is the opposite side of the extraordinary rigidity of Japan’s own cultural pattern.

In China, contrary to Japan, the non-objectifying nature of tradition did not allow for a fast and easy passage to the modernized national culture. This was one of the reasons why early Modernity with its oppressively transcendentalist ideologies, as I have mentioned before  has proved to be a transitory stage on China’s way beyond modernity. The very search for the  (pseudo)realistic representation, apart from the official art of the totalitarian regime, has been notably absent in China. The contemporary computarized world has liberated Chinese from even the theoretical necessity to search for the definitive links between things and ideas. If  postmodern condition means the “deconstruction” of the autonomous subject and his objective knowledge while attuning culture to the virtual/symbolic dimension of experience then we must admit that it is precisely the “Postmodern situation” that helps to recover the life attitudes and values upheld in old China.

Chinese globality, then, belongs to the meta-history discovered by the passage to postmodernity – a sort of inner and encompassing reality that is  bound to remain unwritten and yet is being continuously written out by the very lacunae in observable history. It is the virtual existence endowed with the infinite potentiality. In this axis of the universal vortex we are able, to quote  again  J. Deleuze, “to constitute a continuum with fragments of different ages”

Does not the real meaning of the “end of history” amount to recognizing the priority of ruptures in experience and discovering in it a symbolic depth that can become a condition for spiritual liberation? Will this “return of the tradition” lead to the revival of the inner fullness of existence that makes possible the free interchange, as it was  suggested by the ancient Chinese thinkers, between the consciousness (xin) and unconscious (wu-xin), knowledge (zhi) and no-knowledge (wu-zhi), fictitious and genuine, dreaming and awakening?  Perhaps these questions do not call for answers. Rather, they are destined to safeguard the primordial existential indeterminacy and, therefore, freedom of humankind.

3. The Moral Issue


        I would like to finish this paper with some observations on the issue of morality because the task of late modernity, as we can see now, is essentially a moral one. It amounts to the restoration of the positive element in the modernist negativity, the reconciliation of man with himself. Such a task demands the radical overcoming of modernity’s subjectivist premises and accepting, as a necessary condition of thinking, the human communality, the very humanness of man. The moral philosophy of ancient Taoist thinkers strikes me as the most promising for fulfilling this task.

        The Taoist outlook is based on the idea of the universal harmony whose highest embodiment is the very “suchness”, or “self-evidencing” (tzu ran) of things. In and through this suchness things are as identical as they are unique and self-sustained. This vision calls for an ascetic (but reasonable and not passion-bound) limitations of one’s subjectivism as well as the courage to appropriate the  abyss of the  absolute Other. This  implies of course not the denial of the universal order, still less the imposition of one’s deliberate will on the world, but the return to the symbolic proto-existence, the hub of the world transformations – an absent space of mutual opening and mutual enclosure of things in the imperceptibly subtle rhythm of the absolute harmony. In chapter 74 of the “Tao Te ching” the ruler who passes judgements on the basis of appearances and abstract notions is compared to an inexperienced wood-cutter who often hurts himself. The Taoist sage rules by the (non-knowing) knowledge of the “semen” of things and dissolves conflicts even before the become apparent. His rightful actions are immediately rewarded just because they are their own goal.

        The Taoist thought suggests an inspiring alternative to the modernity’s quest for comfort and security. It discloses the real meaning of insecurity as the desire to be “in security”, to enclose oneself. Accordingly, it instructs to find a peace for oneself by opening oneself to the world, making oneself vulnerable. “The weak overcomes the strong”, Lao-tzu keeps on repeating. He adds that the wise man cannot suffer from the wild beasts or enemy’s sword just because he has “no place of death” in him. Now this “place of death” in man, according to Taoists, is precisely the point of his Ego’s self-fixation, the location of the purported (in)security. The sage, says  Chuang-tzu must become “like someone he has never been before”: he partakes in the “recoiling of one body” of the universe, i.e. a universal  human always in flux. And, being universal, he “hides the world within the world” – only to find that everything is absolutely safe. Chuang-tzu is often considered a writer of fantasies, but in fact he  means what he says.

        In Taoist writings the motives of spiritual perfection, moral stand and death are related to each other in a definite and quite peculiar way. The experience of dying or, we can say, human finiteness is a sure sign of wisdom which means simultaneously heightened sensitivity and moral conviction. Thus, in chapter 20 of the “Tao Te ching” (and also in the “Chuang-tzu”) the fear of death stimulates “the inner illumination” of the Sage.  In chapter 69 Lao-tzu declares that “the one who feels sad on the battle field will win” and this most probably means that the one who is more sensitive in fighting will be the winner. Lao-tzu’s rejection of was is based not on any strictly “humanistic” sentiments but on a more abstract considerations: the war is for him the disruption of the world harmony. It would certainly be misleading to call “Tao Te ching”, as Russian sinologist I. Semenenko does, “one of the most tragic works of the world philosophy”.  Chinese tradition simply has no place for the opposition of the autonomous individual and the blind fate that nourished the concept of tradegy in the West. In any case, for Lao-tzu the physical death did not constitute a problem. The Taoist Sage who has returned to the “root of things” is aware rather of the impossibility of death. Yet this loss of the individual Self constitutes man’s communal spirit and hence human morality. It is, however, a communality of the “hidden identity” (hsuan tung) – the one that has no fixed form and transcends all finite social groups. It represents the very possibility of  human togetherness. It makes possible responsibility of humans by the completely “irresponsible” act of self-forgetting. New post-postmodern ethos can only be born from the thorough radicalization of morality.

        There is, no doubt,  much in this new ethical attitude that may perplex the Europeans. Perhaps the most disturbing motif for them  would be the  inevitable, even if hidden or symbolical, discontinuity between appearance and reality, the ruler and the ruled, or the ways of  everyday life and the Great Way of the sage who is capable of perceiving “the deep impulse” of existence. This dichotomy smacks of the “oriental despotism” or at least “macchiavellism” with its strategy of conspiracy between the ruler and the people. In a wider sense, Chinese civilization is distinguished by an organic unity of morality and strategic thinking which have usually been separated and often radically opposed to each other in the Western thought. In Chinese culture strategy and morality compliment and justify each other. Morality is bound to be strategic because it contains in itself its own symbolic and fundamentally non-objectifying dimension while  strategy pursues an essentially moral goal: the achievement of the human existence’s integrity and supreme harmony. The Chinese ideal of wisdom as the extraordinary sensitivity serves as the common ground for both. We have to put up with this conclusion and allow for the possibility and even necessity of strategic morality.


        Let me conclude  this paper with  two statements that not so much summarize my observations as lead to further generalizations.

1. Globalization is a complex notion that holds in itself some inner, eveninnate contradictions. Historically its contradictory nature manifests through the dialectical opposition of what has been called here  the early and the late modernity, or postmodernity. Far Eastern civilization lacks the historical background of the modernization of the Western type  and its entrance into the globalized world has been basically a matter of contingency. From the  point of view of the globalization, at least, it is unnecessary and even meaningless to  speak  of the backwardness of  Far Eastern countries in comparison with the modern West  Moreover, these countries possess their own rich potential for globalization and this potential is to became an important correlate of Western globalizing tendencies. It looks like Japan and China represent two different patterns of modernization roughly corresponding to the early modernity and the postmodernity of the Western world. This accounts for the initial success of  Japanese society at an early stage of modernization and the difficulties it encounters at present  when globalization has become the most pressing issue. On the contrary, Chinese people, after a prolonged crisis of identity,  are successfully working out the globalized forms of their civilization. The most evident and widespread among these forms  are the “Chinatowns” – a postmodern, meta-historic image of Chinese society representing, I would like to underline, a world within world, a model of discontinuity that generates essentially globalized – i.e. symbolical –  unity of humankind.

2. The tendency towards globalization is making ever more urgent the  appearance of the new type of morality that transcends norms imposed by cultural traditions or the rules defined by abstract rationality. Far Eastern civilization can make a significant contribution to the development of such morality  destined to highlight the very conditions of human communality and global ethos. It can be suggested that the new morality should include a strategic dimension – a philosophical correlate of a new symbolic hierarchy of sociality in the globalized world. However, the forms and the scope of this dimension as well as the ways of bridging the gap between  ethics and religion are open to discussion.