Foreword

 Foreword
For the International Research Center of the New Ren-Humanist Ethics
          (in terms of semiotics, hermeneutics, phenomenology)
 
As well known, the global situation of the humanities today has been seriously falling into a decline following the ever-increasingly expanding technical-commercializing globalization. But the negative tendency is also an obvious signal that the traditional humanities in both the west and the east have been really losing their rationally creative potential. Moreover, the prevalent post-modernist philosophy help further weaken the scientific function of current human sciences, and therefore this stream of thought can be taken as a typical philosophy of an era of technical-commercial domination, as I pointed out at the 11th IASS Congress in Nanking 2012. As a matter of fact we humanist-scientists are faced with a severe academic-intellectual challenge in the new century. For the sake of maintaining a meaningful survival the humanities should be seriously transformed into the Human Sciences based on rational foundation and treated by scientific methods. For this purpose the humanist-scientists should first of all recover or reestablish a more relevant ethics of subjectivity that can make us be independent enough to search for our genuine scientific goal against the professional-institutional restrictions of the academic Establishment. It is the new turn of the semiotic science defined along the line of semantic-institutional analysis that is able to combine all scientific and historical heritages to form a more suitable orientation for reforming the traditional humanities. Accordingly a cross-cultural ethics of subjectivity called “new ren-humanist ethics” is presented in this center.
 
Following the current development of interdisciplinary and cross-cultural methodology enhanced by current semiotics, comparative ethics and the link between ethics and human sciences have become ever more important. In essence this new ren-humanist ethics is the consequence of the interaction between a Chinese historical-humanist ethics and the western modern human sciences. Being limited by the semantic limitation of the words and the semantic distortion caused by the word-translation, some main concepts used here imply senses different from their regular ones. They are briefly defined in the following:
 
Center: Different from the academic center as the regular institutional body, this online center refers to a mere organizing site in Internet. The word “center” can mean an organizer as such whose activity is supported by any kind of media, so this online center is planned to be an independent academic organizer exercising the functions that are not much different from those of the regular substantial centers.  It deals with items such as the online publications, intellectual exchange, scholarly projects of individual and collective collaborations and others.
 
Ren-humanist ethics: ren or jen is the transliteration of the Chinese character 仁. Its meaning implies human, human being, humanitarian, benevolent and many others. The ren-ethics is also a little bit different from the western type of “ethics” with respect to respective constitution, structure and function. But the both share the basic ethical elements, at least from a point of view of the western tradition of humanist ethics, despite that the former is given in the non-theoretical texts and the latter is mostly given in the theoretical forms. Therefore the western word “humanist” added in the translated title of renxue is used to emphasize a common basic position held by both the Chinese and the western humanist ethical thoughts.
 
Renxue:  it is the transliteration of the Chinese words 仁学; its literal meaning is “the learning of ren”. The translated word “learning”(or teaching) here implies both intellectual and pragmatic aspects. The new ren-humanist ethics is still based on the same original renxue embodied in historical texts arising from the pre-Qin-dynasty (prior to 221 B.C.). It is constituted by two historical texts: the earlier basic one The Analects (论语) and the later successive one The Mengzi(孟子)。 The “new renxue” is attempted to expand the system of the original renxue to include some of its later developments in history, especially the Wang Yangming thought (阳明学) as an inmost-subjective-pragmatic turn of the original renxue. Renxue is of a universally applicable nature and therefore can be generally applied to any interpersonal contexts despite its ancient oriental origin. Differently from any western humanist ethics as the pure theory renxue as a thought is a composite consisting of intellectual, spiritual, cultural and pragmatic aspects that keeps a historical existence lasting over 2000 years actually recorded in written literature.
 
New renxue: compared with the original renxue as the historical texts, new renxue is characterized by the following specially added features that make it different from the original version of renxue:
a.      Intellectually as well as historically, the concept renxue (仁学) is defined in contrast with ruxue (the learning of ‘ru’). Ru 儒 is a special antique character with different ambiguous original senses and ruxue (儒学,Ru-Learning) refers to a synthetic academic system created in the post-Qin period which insert the separately existing renxue as the pre-Qin texts into its system as a constituent part. Thus, RENxue is a purely ethical-intellectual system embodied in two texts created in pre-Qin period while RUxue is a multiply-composed academic-ideological system embodied in several groups of texts edited in the post-Qin dynasty of Han that was the first Chinese despotic Empire. Besides, Ruxue functions in a close coordination with the state machine with a definite purpose to serve the totalitarian power.
b.      Our study of renxue is carried out in terms of modern theories like hermeneutics, semiotics, phenomenology and others, together with some modernized Chinese traditional philological, historiographic and text-critical methods.
c.      As a universal-applied humanist ethics renxue, with its long historical experience of humanist-ethical wisdom, will be included into the contemporary efforts for modernizing human sciences.
 
Hermeneutics: by excluding any popular philosophical hermeneutics it is directed to different kinds of historiography, working together with historical semiotics and  historical theory as two newly shaped disciplines. Simply, hermeneutics for us is mainly an interpretative methodology for dealing with history and intellectual history.
 
Semiotics: its main subjects here, different from the usual study of signs in nature and culture, are focused on the compositional and institutional semantics of the academic texts, so as to further lead the semantic-orientated semiotic study to promote the development of interdisciplinary-cross-cultural human sciences. In fact semiotics in this sense is taken as an organizer or reorganizer of analyzing and combining constituent elements of different academic fields.
 
Phenomenology: its interest here is purely focused on Husserl’s theory, or its philosophy of consciousness. The latter is especially interpreted by us as a result of the interaction between philosophy, logic and psychology, in exclusion of the traditional metaphysics and speculative ontology. Mainly taken as a psychological-positive theory of subjectivity it provides the theoretical foundation for a new type of subjective ethics, which is necessary for a genuine freedom of the spontaneous intellectual creation about renovating human sciences.
 
The formation of new ren-humanist ethics is therefore shaped by the following considerations:
a.      The functional confusion of  different disciplines such as ethics, morality, law and religion is conductive at present to the disappearance of subjective ethics that is the very impetus of scientifically reforming ethics and human sciences.
b.     The constitution and dynamics of Chinese social and intellectual history should be  at first anatomized at a semiotic-philological level before they can be studied and interpreted scientifically. After all, renxue as a pure ethical thought and ruxue as the synthetic academic ideology should be separated with respect to their identity and functions.
c.      Separated from the ruxue (the Confucianist academic ideological system), the renxue (the Confucian ethical thought) can be used to be a version of the universal-humanist ethics that, because of its empirical-positive-humanitarian nature, is a helpful guidance for promoting modern human sciences in general and the universal-humanistic ethics in particular. Accordingly, the name Confucius as the author of the renxue ethical thought and the name Confucius as the faked founder of the ruxue academic-ideology should be separated too. As well known in history the name Confucius has been intentionally made sacred as the Father of the Ru-political-religion. This ideological-directed fiction is the very source of the misleading interpretation of the Confucian Thought even today.
Renxue can be included into a general effort towards the formation of new humanistic type of subjective ethics which can help refresh the spontaneity and freedom of subjectivity as the source of ethical will absolutely requested by the task of revolutionizing human sciences. Without the ethical will of subjectivity no truly independent choices can be made in activities of human sciences under the present-day control of technological-professional dominance.
 
In consequence the new ren-humanist ethics is established to play a reorganizing role in promoting the scientific development of human sciences.
 
Prof. Youzheng Li, vice President of IASS,  11,11, 2013