中国人为何患上了爱的匮乏症? – Why do Chinese people suffer from a lack of love?

如果下个结论,说当下国人缺乏爱的教育,对爱情、亲情、友情的感受与体悟简单粗陋,不善于表达爱,我想反对的人并不多。分析其缘由,就众说纷纭了。原因肯定多样,但将之归结于中国传统文化的影响,显然失之偏颇。
中国人缺乏爱的教育,显然是这60多年的事。诗人米沃什在《被禁锢的头脑》中,分析过当年波兰的“新信仰”伦理原则:“凡是能为革命利益服务的一切,都是好的。凡是有损于革命利益的一切,都是坏的。”这一原则,同样适合1949年后的中国,在那个年代的文化中,革命与阶级仇恨是人们行动的真理,文化作品塑造的也多是阶级仇恨,直到这种仇恨化做刺向阶级敌人的利器。它通过对敌人的仇恨和对国家的感恩,试图塑造一种新的社会伦理,这种伦理是以抹去人的正常情感和欲望为代价的。
米沃什在书中说,告密在古今往来的任何文明中,都不曾被视为美德的行为,但在“新信仰”文明中,却是作为好公民的基本美德受到赞许。告密文化在中国的发展巅峰便是“文革”,那个年代到处是夫妻反目、父子成仇、好友揭发、亲人背叛,国人对爱情、亲情、友情的价值认知和感受,受到空前的伤害,完全颠覆了中国几千年的是非善恶标准与伦理观。1976年后,革命与仇恨之弦虽松弛下来,但对于爱的基本观念并未变,认为个人之爱比起对国家民族之爱来说,是渺小而不值得一提的,蕴藏在传统文化中的大量对爱与伦理的价值观,被封存在民众的教育和认知之外,使得国人至今对本民族的爱的内涵与模式,仍然非常陌生。
在中国传统社会,对各种情感的伦理认知,主要来源是儒家文化。说儒家文化是一门情感哲学,或爱的哲学,并不为过。它与西方以智性为主导的哲学完全不同,儒家的目标是由智性来完成性情,而不是由性情来完成智性。所以儒家修身,目的是为了修炼出自己的真性情,它反对人的寡情、绝情或无情。李泽厚也认为儒家“以情为本”,称“它所展望的只是普通平凡的人的身心健康、充分发展和由自己决定命运的可能性和必要性”
儒家对人生的思考,是以血缘和生命为中心的,亲情、友情、爱情自然被看作个人生命与价值的源头。它的一个主要目标,就是协调、管理人的情感,重情尚情,在儒家思想中占有重要的地位。《礼记》认为,圣人的职责就是引导人的情感,所以它说“故人情者,圣王之田也,修礼以耕之,陈义以种之,讲学以耨之,本仁以聚之,播乐以安之。”中国乃农耕古国,《礼记》素性拿种田做比方,这样更易理解。它把人情视作圣王耕种的田地,礼是耕耘,义是种子,讲学是锄草,仁是储藏的仓库,乐使人心安定。可看出,儒家所言的“仁、义、礼、乐、学”这些理念,都是为了管理好人的情感。
“仁”是儒家的核心理念,《论语》中“樊迟问仁”,孔子的回答是“爱人”,《中庸》说“仁者人也,亲亲为大”,《说文解字》对“仁”的解释是“亲也,从人从二”。可见,在“仁”诸种理念中,爱自己的亲人是首要的,也是修身之始。孟子说“不得乎亲,不可以为人”,意为不知道爱亲人者,也失去了为人的资格,所以《礼记》认为“立爱自亲始”。从孔子开始,就把爱与情感视为人性和人生的本源和基础,更将人的情感明确分为父子、兄弟、夫妇、君臣、朋友这五伦关系,以此来构建各种社会情感。
“仁爱”是儒家思想的根基,对它的研究与论述也非常复杂,构成了一个庞大体系。儒家对爱的名目分得很细,如父对子之爱为“慈”,子对父之爱为“孝”。“父慈子孝”是“亲亲”的基本伦理,也被视为一种相互责任。《左传》说:“爱子,教之以义方”。“父慈”显然承担教育的义务。子女对父母的亲情“孝”,在中国则上升为一个完整的思想体系,构成了中国文化与其他文化的主要差别之一。《礼记》在论及子女对父母之爱时说:“孝子之有深爱者,必有和气。有和气者,必有愉色。有愉色者,必有婉容。”对于现代亲情来说,对父母做到时时有愉色与婉容,也算是很重要的爱的表达吧?
孔子在《论语》中虽多次论及孝,但并无统一定义。过去古人认为孩子生下三年,才能离开父母怀抱,所以父母去世,子女要为父母守丧三年。宰我对此有疑问,孔子对宰我虽然不快,但并没强制宰我非得按社会规范做,只是将孝道归结为“心安”二字。在孔子看来,孝道的重心还在个人,表现为人的真情与本性一种自然流露,这与现代社会对亲情之爱的理解是完全一致的。
对手足伦理和友情,儒家同样看重,“兄友弟恭”说的就是这种情感。《论语》说“孝弟也者,其为仁之本与”,在儒家看来,一个人连父母、兄弟都不爱的话,是不可能爱他人或爱社会的,所以“孝弟”会被视为仁爱之本。“弟”的主要原则就是友爱,如孔子说的“兄弟怡怡”。兄弟伦理还可扩展为朋友之情,如子夏所言“四海之内,皆兄弟也。君子何患无兄弟也?”当然,兄弟与朋友之情还是有细微差别的,朋友相交以义为原则,而兄弟间血缘之恩是关键,所以和睦相处尤为重要。
对夫妻之爱,儒家说的是“夫义妇顺”。《中庸》说:“君子之道,造端乎夫妇;及其至也,察乎天地”,意思是:君子之道,从夫妻之间开始,到了它的最高境界,就能显明天地间的一切事物了。可见在儒家的家庭伦理中,夫妇伦理也极为重要。儒家是把女性的柔顺作为美德的,但同时认为丈夫也需以义待之。唐朝之后,有一本专供女性读的《女论语》对儒家的女性观做了很多细化和阐释,它强调的是一种“相敬如宾、和乐琴瑟”的婚姻生活。它对婚姻的认知是:“前世缘分,今世婚姻。夫刚妻柔,恩爱相因”,“同甘同苦,同富同贫。死同葬穴,生共衣衾。”这种夫妻的恩爱和情感,并不与现代生活对爱情的认知有多大矛盾。
儒家虽强调“立爱自亲始”,但也期望这种爱能推己及人。“自亲始”,才是一种健康正常的爱,这样的爱才有独立性,不会与对他人或国家之爱混为一谈。但儒家同样期望人们能“老吾老,以及人之老;幼吾幼,以及人之幼”,将这种仁爱之心推及他人。甚至不仅要推及他人,还要推及天下万物,所以孟子说君子要“亲亲而仁民,仁民而爱物”,意为:君子由亲爱亲人,进而仁爱民众,由仁爱民众,进而爱护万物。这里的物,就是指天生之万物。在孟子看来,“天之生物也,使之一本”,天下万物只有一个本源。有了对天地的这种信仰和敬意,自然会爱物惜物。天地万物对人有养育的恩德,人会发自内心地对天地万物怀有感恩之心。
儒家认为,只有平等地看待人与物,两者的关系才能趋于和谐,“和”的前提就是万物首先要实现共存。因为物与人一样,也是禀承天命而存在的,虽呈现的形态不同,但都拥有各自的尊严,《中庸》说“万物并育而不相害”就是这个意思。人与物的价值平等观,是儒家情感观的一种超越。人与物只有实现了共存而不相害,就是一方的发展不能以损害另一方为代价,才是人类生存的一种理想境界。用今天眼光看,这种观念也是很现代。儒家把人格平等观,推而广之,扩展到了所有生命乃至一切事物。这种思想为传统中国人的爱物惜物,提供了深厚的哲学基础,所以传统国人对天地自然、万事万物有一种本能的尊重,极少把自然看作可供掠夺的资源。在生活中,持强凌弱或贵己贱物的人,也被看作是缺乏修养的表现。
对于爱的原则,儒家同样有规范,那就是“己所不欲,勿施于人”。过去总有人说,儒家之爱不是自由独立之爱,但孔子说的这8个字,却被写进了现代社会的《全球伦理宣言》,这份宣言认为:“这应当成为所有生活领域——包括家庭与社群、各种族、各国家、各宗教的千古不易、绝无条件的准则。”在《论语》中,孔子认为如果有一个字可终身行之,那就是“恕”了,他对恕的解释便是“己所不欲,勿施于人”,孔子称之为“恕道”。
仁是“爱人”,但“爱人”如何在行为中来体现呢?“忠恕之道”就是“仁之方也”,也就是行仁的方式。“忠”为“中心”,即行事心要居于中正。所以“忠”确立的是一种对人对事的真诚态度,并用此态度去为他人谋事和做事;而“恕”则是以自己之心,来推及别人的心,是人处理与他人情感关系的一种基本原则,包含着体谅别人的不周之处。儒家的“忠恕”之道,强调的是对“己”的限制和要求,并不是对他人的要求,期望在处理情感关系时,能有对自己的限制,不能随意把自己的想法强加于人。只有在这种前提下实现的爱与情感沟通,才能真正体现出平等精神。我想,这也是忠恕之道最具现代意义的地方,它应成为我们今天对待亲情爱情友情的一个基本态度。
从这些论述,我们可以看到,儒家所说的爱的情感,与今天主流社会灌输的对爱的观点,并不相同。儒家认为,人对自己的关心要超过对别人的,人对自己父母的爱也会深于对他人父母之爱。在儒家看来,只有在承认这种真实情感的前提下,才能真正做到由己及亲、由亲及人,进而实现一种由人及于天下万物的普遍仁爱。
由于中国传统文化,对于情感及爱的这些哲学认知,与我们的教育与主流话语完全隔绝,这也是国人患上爱的匮乏症的原因之一。与那些有宗教传统的国家不同,中国人对于爱和情感的培养,自古以来就是通过教育,而不是通过教堂。如果中国的教育体系,对爱与情感的教育完全缺失,中国人的爱的匮乏症也就难以被治愈。我们将会生活在一个冷漠的国度。

If concluding that Chinese people nowadays lack education on love, have a simple or crude understanding and experience of love, family, friends, and are not good at expressing their love, I do think not many people will oppose my opinion. Opinions differ when we analyse the reason. Indeed, reasons are various, but summing them up as the influence from traditional Chinese culture is evidently biased.

Chinese people’s lack of education on love has been an issue for the past sixty years or so. In the book “The Captive Mind” by poet Czesław Miłosz, he discussed the ethical principle of the “new philosophy” in Poland at the time whereby: “All things which are beneficial to the revolution are good. All things which are harmful to the revolution are bad.” This principle befits the Chinese Revolution of 1949, where within that cultural period people were pushing for revolution and social class hatred. Cultural works also mostly portrayed class hatred, until this hatred became a weapon against the social class enemy. New social ethics attempted to be modelled through the hatred for the enemy and the gratitude towards the country. However these ethics came at the cost of erasing people’s feelings and desires.

In his book, Miłosz says that in all of history, informing against someone has never been considered a virtuous thing to do in any culture, however in this “new philosophy” it is the basic virtue of a good citizen to be commended on. This culture of denunciation in China’s growth peak was the “Cultural Revolution”. During this period, everywhere there was marital fall out, animosity between father and son, disclosure by good friends, and betrayal of loved ones, causing unprecedented harm to Chinese people’s perceived value and feelings towards love, family, and friends. China’s several thousand years of moral standards and ethics were completely overturned. After 1976, although the line of revolution and hatred was relaxed, the fundamental concept of love was still unchanged, believing that one’s individual love was negligible compared to the love for the country. The many values of love and ethics contained in traditional culture was sealed outside of people’s education and cognition, causing Chinese people to be unfamiliar with the meaning and models of the love for their own ethnic group, even up to this day.

In traditional Chinese society, ethics and moral attitudes mainly comes from Confucian culture. Saying that Confucian culture is a philosophy of emotions, or philosophy of love cannot be overemphasised. It is completely different from western philosophy that is lead by intellect. The goal of Confucianism is to use intellect to complete one’s temperament, rather than use temperament to complete one’s intellect. Therefore the goal of Confucian cultivation is to develop one’s true temperament, opposing people’s detachment and indifference. Chinese scholar Li Zehou also believed Confucianism to be “emotion-centred”, calling it “simply a prospect of ordinary people’s physical and mental health, full development, and the possibility and necessity to decide on one’s own destiny”.

Confucianism centres its thoughts on life based on blood relations. Naturally, family, friends, and love are considered the sources of each person’s life and values. Its main objective of harmony, by management of emotions, holds an important place in Confucian thought. “The Classic of Rites” believe that the responsibility of sage kings is to guide peoples feelings, thus states that “Those feelings were the field (to be cultivated by) the sage kings. They fashioned the rules of ceremony to plough it. They set forth the principles of righteousness with which to plant it. They instituted the lessons of the school to weed it. They made love the fundamental subject by which to gather all its fruits, and they employed the training in music to give repose (to the minds of learners)”. “The Classic of Rites” uses farming as an analogy for easier understanding, whereby China is an old agricultural country. Feelings become the field ploughed by the sage kings, the rules become ploughing and weeding, the principles of righteousness become the seeds, the lessons of school become weeding, benevolence becomes the storehouse, and music keeps the mind composed. From here it can been seen that the Confucian ideas of “benevolence, righteousness, ritual, music, and learning” are for managing people’s feelings.

“Benevolence” is the core concept of Confucianism. In “The Analects” when “Fan Chi asked about benevolence”, Confucius replied “It is to love all men”. “The Doctrine of the Mean” says “Benevolence is the characteristic element of humanity, and the great exercise of it is in loving relatives”, while the “Analytical Dictionary of Characters” explains “benevolence” as “family, from a person who may relate to another person and two people”. It can be seen that in all the various concepts of “benevolence”, loving one’s family is the most important, and the start of cultivating one’s moral character. Mencius said that “if one could not get the hearts of his parents he could not be considered a man”, therefore “The Classic of Rites” believes “Laying the foundation of (all) love in the love of parents”. Starting from Confucius, love and affection have been considered as human nature, as well as the origin and foundation of life. Furthermore, five major human relationships were clearly distinguished between father and son, elder brother and younger brother, husband and wife, ruler and subject, and between friends, in order to structure various social affections.

“Benevolence” or “kind-heartedness”(“仁爱”ren ai) is the foundation of Confucian thought, on which research and discussion is extremely complicated as it is composed of an enormous hierarchy. Confucianism has very detailed namings for love, for example a father’s love for his son is called “kindness”(“慈”ci), while a son’s love for his father is called “filial piety”(“孝”xiao). “Kindness on the part of the father, and filial duty on that of the son” is the basic ethics of family, and also considered a mutual responsibility. The book “Zuo Zhuan” says to “love your son, and teach him righteousness through moral principles”. A “father’s kindness” bears the duty to educate. Children’s “filial piety” towards their parents, is rising to become a complete ideology in China, constituting one of the main difference between Chinese culture and other cultures. “The Classic of Rites” discussion on sons and daughters love towards their parents says: “A filial son, cherishing a deep love (for his parents), is sure to have a bland air; having a bland air, he will have a look of pleasure; having a look of pleasure, his demeanour will be mild and compliant” With regard to family in the modern day, constantly having a look of pleasure and being compliant, is perhaps a very important expression of love.

In “The Analects” Confucius often talks about filial piety, yet has no unified definition. In the past our forefathers believed that only three years after a child is born, then the child can leave the mothers bosom. Therefore when the parents pass away, the children have to be in mourning for three years. Confucius’ disciple Zai Wo questioned this, and although Confucius was displeased with him, he did not force Zai Wo to follow the social standards, but just summed up the doctrine of filial piety with the words “feeling at ease”(“心安”xin an). According to Confucius, the core of filial piety lies with the individual. Actions naturally show the true person and their nature, this is in accordance with the modern day understanding of love for family.

In regards to brother ethics and friends, Confucianism also values “love and respect between brothers”. “The Analects” say “Filial piety and fraternal submission! – are they not the root of all benevolent actions?”. In the view of Confucianism, if a person does not even love their parents and brothers, they cannot possibly love others or society. Therefore being “filial and fraternal”(“孝弟”xiao di) is considered the basis of benevolence. The main principle of “brother” is friendly affection, as Confucius stated “among his brethren, bland”. Brother ethics can be extended to friends, as according to Confucius’ disciple Zi Xia “then all within the four seas will be his brothers. What has the superior man to do with being distressed because he has no brothers?” Of course, there is a slight difference between the affection of brothers and friends. Making friends is based on the principle of righteousness, while the key between brothers is blood relations. Therefore living together in harmony is especially important.

With regards to the love between husband and wife, Confucianism states “righteousness on the part of the husband, and submission on that of the wife”. “The Doctrine of the Mean” says: “The way of the superior man may be found, in its simple elements, in the intercourse of common men and women; but in its utmost reaches, it shines brightly through heaven and earth”. It can be seen from within Confucian family ethics, that couple ethics is also very important. Confucianism takes a woman’s submissiveness as a virtue, but at the same time the husband should also be righteous. After the Tang Dynasty, there was a book for women read called “The Analects on Women” which made a lot of refinements and interpretations on Confucian views on women. It emphasised “(of husband and wife)treat each other with respect like guests” kind of married life. It perceived marriage as: “Fate of past life, marriage of present life. The husband is strong and the wife gentle, 恩爱相因”, “Sharing the joys and the sorrows, sharing wealth and poverty. Sharing the same cave in death, 生共衣衾”. This kind of love and affection between husband and wife, does not contradict much with modern day’s perception of love.

Confucianism emphasises “Laying the foundation of (all) love in the love of parents”, but also hopes this love can lead to consideration of others. Only “From the love of parents” is this a healthy and normal love. Only this kind of love is independent, without getting confused with the love for others or love for one’s country. At the same time Confucianism hopes people will “Treat with the reverence due to age the elders in your own family, so that the elders in the families of others shall be similarly treated; treat with the kindness due to youth the young in your own family, so that the young in the families of others shall be similarly treated”, extending this benevolence and kindness onto others. Not only extending to other people but also to everything in the world. Thus Mencius says the superior man should be “Lovingly disposed to people generally, and kind to creatures”. The creatures here are referring to all natural things. According to Mencius, “Heaven gives birth to creatures in such a way that they have one root”, and everything in the world has only one origin. With this belief and respect towards heaven and earth, one will naturally love and cherish all living creatures. All natural things have the kindness of bringing up men, and from within one’s heart men will feel grateful towards all natural things.

Confucianism believes that only by seeing people and things as equal, then there will be a harmonious relationship between the two. The premise of “harmony” is that all things must first achieve coexistence. Because things and people are the same, existing in accordance with the mandate of heaven. Although appearing in a different form, each has its own dignity, as explained in “The Doctrine of the Mean” that “All things are nourished together without their injuring one another”. The value and equality view of people and things, is a type of transcendence of the Confucian concept of emotion. Coexistence between people and things without harming one another, where one side’s development does not come at the cost of harming the other side, is a kind of ideal for human existence. In today’s view, this is a very modern concept. Confucianism extends the personality equality view on to all life and even all things. This type of thinking provides a deep philosophical foundation to the traditional Chinese concept of loving and cherishing all things, therefore traditional Chinese people have an instinctive respect for all things in the natural world, rarely seeing nature as a resource to plunder. Those who are conceited or bully the weak, are seen to represent a lack of cultivation.

Confucianism also has standards on the principle of love, namely “not to do to others as you would not wish done to yourself”. In the past people often said that Confucian love is not free and independent, yet these words of Confucius have been written into modern society’s “Declaration Toward a Global Ethic”. According to the declaration, “We affirm that there is an irrevocable, unconditional norm for all areas of life, for families and communities, for races, nations, and religions”. In “The Analects”, Confucius says that if there was one word which could serve as a rule of practice for all one’s life, it would be “reciprocity”, meaning “what you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others”. He called this “The Golden Rule”.

If benevolence is “to love all men”, how can it be embodied in our actions? The “doctrine of loyalty and forgiveness” is “the art of virtue”, and is the way to practice benevolence. “Loyalty”(“忠”zhong) is “centre heart”(“中心”zhong xin) where one’s heart must be fair when handling matters. Therefore “loyalty” establishes the sincere attitude one must have towards people and things, and use this attitude to consider others when planning and carrying out matters. On the other hand, “reciprocity” is using one’s kind heart and spread to others. This is a basic principle of personal relationships when dealing with others, including consideration of others’ shortcomings. The Confucian idea of loyalty and reciprocity places emphasis on the restrictions and demands on the “self”, and not demands toward others. It expects that one does not impose one’s views on others as one pleases, but rather sets restrictions on oneself when dealing with personal relationships. Under this premise, the actualised love and feelings communicated will embody the essence of equality. I think this is where the idea of loyalty and reciprocity has modern meaning, and should become the basic attitude in which we treat our family, friends, and loved ones today.

From this discussion, we can see that the Confucian idea of feelings of love are not the same as the mainstream concept of love instilled by today’s society. Confucianism believes that the concern for oneself should surpass the concern for others, and the love for one’s own parents should also be deeper than the love for other’s parents. In the view of Confucianism, only by acknowledging these genuine feelings, can one truly realise the universal benevolence from humans to everything in the world, starting from oneself to one’s parents, and from one’s parent’s on to others.

Due to Chinese traditional culture, these philosophical perceptions of love and feelings are completely separated from our education and mainstream discourse. This is one of the reasons that Chinese people suffer from a lack of love. In contrast with countries that have religious traditions, Chinese people’s love and feelings have, since ancient times, been fostered through education instead of through church. If China’s education system totally lacked education on love and feelings, then it would be difficult to cure Chinese people’s lack of love. We would live in a cold and detached country.

Share your thoughts