(Chairperson of Research Center for social development theory, Jilin University.)
It is surely with great pleasure to see this international seminar of Globalization and Multi-Modernity being held today in Jilin University, with the attendance of so many
scholars from home and abroad. On behalf of The Research Center of Social Development
Theory In Jilin University, The Research Center of Fundamental Philosophical Theory and
The School of Philosophy and Sociology, I would like to present my warm welcome and
hearty thanks to all of you.
In 1980s, Jilin University took the lead in our country to establish The Institute of Social Development Study, and in 1990s The School of Philosophy And Sociology was established.
In 2004, The Research Center of Social Development Theory was established as a national
innovation base, a comprehensive study of social development in cross-subject therefore
started. In recent 20 years, Prof. Zheng Hangsheng and other scholars helped us make a
certain amount of achievement, which made this seminar possible.
I want to take this chance to talk about my understanding of “development”.
Development, in its true meaning, is a particular existing pattern of man, that is to say, it is
an existing pattern for man to realize his own development through the development of
society. This particular existing pattern is both the most reality we have to face, and the most
theory of heated argument in sociological field. This is due to the fact that the logic of
human existence is now facing a severe challenge in our social activities, especially in the
course of economical globalization.
The problem of development is severe because, as an existing pattern, it has an unavoidable two-folded meanings. Human history is a course of aim-pursuing activities, it
always realizes its progress in a certain kind of setback pattern, unilateralism therefore
becomes the develop pattern of history. Any progress in historical process would certainly
pay a corresponding cost, any positive effect would be accompanied wit certain negative
effect, any realization of collective benefits would mean certain lost of partial benefits, and
any pursue of long term benefits would mean certain abandonment of partial benefits.
Either the relationship between man and nature, or that between man and society would face
the same severe challenge in the course of economic globalization.
As for the relationship between man and nature, Engels once warned us not to enjoy our victory over nature, for nature would take revenge for any victory we have made. Indeed
we got what we had expected in every victory, but later, or later after later we found the final result diminished what we had expected. Damage to our homestead would certainly
threaten our own existence and development. Therefore, it has become a grave task to
harmonize man and nature in the social development study.
As for the relationship between man and society, Karl Marx once concluded market economy as “human independence based on the matter-dependence” In its institutional
meaning, economical globalization firstly means the globalization of market economy and its
corresponding principles. Market economy shapes the whole social life according to its
own requirement, meanwhile its principles such as equivalence exchange and survival of the
fittest have melted into our life as well. This not only shaped the human independence, but
also formed a matter-dependence of man. It is the logic of maximum interest rather than
maximum of happiness that creates the survival logic of modern society. As for man, this
survival logic becomes a severe challenge to the human logic of expecting good and
avoiding the bad. Marcuse once said that the inner contradictory of developed industrial
civilization lies here: its unreasonable part stays in its reasonability. This is the severest
problem we have to face in the course of economical globalization.
Social development theory consider development the severest realistic problem, and the primary problem it has to face is how to understand and evaluate the term “development”
Development is not only the description but also the evaluation of the existence state and
process, therefore development is the description of existence with its logical precondition of
evaluation. This could be summarized as that the problem of development is actually the
problem of evaluation over existence state and process, and the problem of behavior choice
according to certain evaluation criterion; in other words, it is a problem to make an orderly
arrangement in practice. As for the existence logic of expecting good and avoiding bad,
how to set the criterion of good or bad, and how to choose the right behavior to expect good
and avoid bad, how to make the orderly arrangement so as to get more good than bad, all this
form the fundamental problem we have to face. “Criterion” and “choice” have become the
most important nuclear category in social development theory.
The criterion of development holds a very rich and profound cultural connotation, which includes not only cultural diversity, but also consistency of every age; not only the sure
tendency of economical globalization, but also the multi-choice of modernization; not only
the major measure of history, but also the minor measure of history. Here the major
measure of history refers to the measure we evaluate history from the viewpoint of our
fundamental interest, long-term interest and collective interest; and the minor measure refers
to the measure we regulate our historical activities out of our non-fundamental interest,
temporary interest and partial interest. Life has told us that if we only hold the major measure and neglect the minor one, we cannot realize the ideal promised by the major measure, and even worse, we would distort it into the actual violence which depresses individual growth. On the other hand, if we only hold the minor measure and neglect the major one, we would lose our ideal and, the most serious, our historical activities would threaten human existence and therefore make us feel too anxious to carry out our duties.
In the process of the building socialism of Chinese characteristics, we create a general
concept of Fundamental Human, which has been regarded as the fundamental criterion of development. Being the subtle balance of both the major and minor historical measure, the criterion has now become the start of our behavior choice. The notion of scientific development we have formed in the process of building the socialism of Chinese characteristics holds development as the primary concept, with its core the Fundamental Human, its basic requirement the complete harmony and continuance, and its fundamental solution a plan as whole and attention to all. Under such a guidance, the Chinese government is now bending itself to three problems in social development: the first, being the representative of public interest, it is trying to maximum the public interest so as to meet the social fundamental needs; the second, it is seeking to ease the pressure brought by the resources and environment, so as to realize the continuance; the third, it is enhancing its own construction in the public management structure, so as to promote its public service. This is the behavior choice under the guidance of Fundamental Human, which is also the behavior choice of modernity we have made in the process of economic globalization.
Being contemporary social science researchers, we are determined to liberate our mind
and promote our study of social development theory on the basis of deriving foreign achievements. To liberate our mind, I think, we need to have the ambition to build the socialism of Chinese characteristics and to realize the grand restoration of Chinese nationalities. Our country has been open for nearly 30 years, and now we are facing an unprecedented opportunity, and yes, we are facing an unprecedented challenge as well. We need a strong ambition and a wide vision to further the study and research of the socialism of Chinese characteristics, because this effort will widen our way. To liberate our mind also requires us the courage to face reality, during the course of building socialistic market economy, many hidden contradiction would gradually appear, which urges us to study them with the courage to face reality and to solve these problems under the notion of scientific development. Only with such courage can we truly liberate our mind and bring forward new questions. To liberate our mind also requires us the courage of new theory creation, it
is not only a slogan, firstly it requires us to liberate our mind from metaphysics, so that we can further study the new situation and new problems rather than making a brief judgment and evaluation on our performance; secondly it requires us to liberate our mind from doctrinarism, so that we can supply creative research achievements to our construction when we meet new opportunities and challenges; thirdly, it requires us to liberate our mind from the dull and empty language pattern, so that we can form new thoughts and new language to make a brand new argumentation and new explanation.
Karl Marx once said that problem is the proverb of the age, and it is the voice of the age
which is open, dreadless and dominant to everyone. Being the self-awareness of society, social science is always mostly concerned with the most realistic problem of its age. The survival logic of expecting good and avoiding the bad has met unprecedented challenge in the time of economical globalization, which has brought about a great many tasks to our attention and expectation. We will be listening to various voices from scholars of either home and abroad, who will show us their enlightening and constructive achievements. This would certainly be a good chance for us to learn from each other, and I do wish it a wonderful success!
吉林大学社会发展理论研究中心主任 孙正聿 教授