The Beijing Olympics and Chinese Culture. | Teen Ink

The Beijing Olympics and Chinese Culture.

June 23, 2008
By Anonymous

Many friends of ours who have grown up in Western countries are attracted by the mystic colors of the Eastern countries. China, with her ancient civilization, is by far the most enchanting of all countries in the Eastern world. For this reason, the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the Beijing Olympic opening ceremony are bound to make audiences all over the world carried away by the inscrutable and yet colorful culture of China. During the period of the Beijing Olympics you will certainly like to have a more complete understanding of the culture of China. For satisfying your desire to grasp Chinese culture, SANLIDA Co. has specifically prepared for you the special column entitled The Beijing Olympics and Chinese Culture.
In previous articles we have introduced you to “the root of Chinese culture”, The Chinese classical philosophy and the traditional Chinese medicine. All this, I am afraid, may be a little too obscure to Western readers. So, let’s have a more simple discussion.

Chinese Culture is Like an Enigma

What is culture? What does culture consist in? This question is really a hard nut to crack. Culture has no shape; it’s not susceptible of description. Culture has no scope; it’s hard to set bounds to. Culture is like air. We live in it every day, we can’t leave it for a moment, but when we hold out our hands and try to “take hold of” it we’ll find that it is ubiquitous and is with us all the time---only not to be taken hold of by us. A cultural phenomenon, whatever it is, cannot occur at random, by accident, and with no reason at all. The task set for the science of culture is to find the reasons and explicate them.
If we say that a Chinese is an enigma and Chinese culture is also an enigma, then the ideological core of Chinese culture is the most enigmatic of all enigmas.
The core of culture, the ideological nucleus of a nation, is the general program of the existence and development of the nation. Once we seize hold of the general program, everything falls into place. Only when we have taken full command of the ideological core of a nation’s culture, can we have a comparatively deep and thoroughgoing understanding of the nation’s cultural characteristics, cultural personality, cultural behavior and cultural psychology. That is to say, only when a Westerner has mastered the ideological core of Chinese culture can he/she look at a Chinese with understanding, with penetration, and with precision. It is for this reason that in previous articles I have introduced you to the influence that Chinese classical philosophy has had on her culture. Philosophy is abstruse, while culture in itself is concrete, vivid and lively. Thus, the core of culture can be no other than a highly abstract philosophical generalization. Moreover, this kind of abstract generalization must be shown as true by the vivid, concrete, and lively cultural phenomena. It is difficult to derive the abstract from the concrete. It is even more difficult to return from the abstract to the concrete. Culture is doubtless made up of a great multitude of cultural phenomena. These phenomena, like biological cells that contain the secrets of life, contain the genetic code, so to speak, of a nation’s culture. A conclusion that naturally follows is: A nation’s culture embodies the nation’s cultural personality. For example, a Chinese traditionally bows or bows with clasped hands in greeting because, as some researchers think, Chinese people have “introvert” character. Westerners shake hands or embrace on meeting, because Westerners are “extroverted” in character. Extroversion causes one to extend his hand to grasp the other person’s hand. Introversion makes one stretch out his hand to hold the other hand of his own.
There is another explanation which perhaps accords better with fact. Chinese people are not aggressive. They tend to be more on the defensive. The traditional way of greeting suits this purpose well, especially when the two sides are strangers to each other and stand at some distance from each other, as was often the case in former times. Each clasps his two hands in order to show there is no weapon in either. Each bows down in order to show there is no intention of making an attack.continue:

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