“Through the dynamic multiplicity of the world, a hope for mutual co-becoming emerges”
In its ideal disposition, nature constantly creates, and alongside of this dynamic tumult the humanities themselves becomes become plural and multi-faceted. In the beginning, humanity and the myriad of things co-existed together under one vaulted universe and on one great earth. We were all one family, with our fate bound together. While nature produced innumerable contests for survival, and humanity was certainly not without conflict and contradictions, natural competition rarely saw a winner take all scenario. The conflicts of humanity, on the other hand, often become a zero sum game.
The path of mutual co-existence (which could also be translated as mutual becoming) does not mean a total negation of competition and conflict. But what must be avoided is a unyielding mode of aggression which “never knows satisfaction.” The path of mutual becoming hopes that the dialectical tension produced out of mutual differences can become transformed, so that all sides come to understand that “if we do not co-exist together, then only mutual destruction that awaits.” With this realization, a process of mutual transformation can commence, which can lead to the perpetual protection of life to flourish.
Today, all under heaven, the climate has become unbalanced, the earth has become arid, life is dying, ethnicities are rife with conflict between one another, the gap between the wealthy and the poor widens…the strong bully the weak, while the strong battle with the strong. At this moment, we need more than ever an intellectual movement organized around the concept of “co-existence,” or “mutual co-becoming.” This is a movement that can utilize the “win-win” logic of a “game without end” to replace the “singular winner” of “a game with an end.” The former could be considered the kingly or sagely way, the later the way of the hegemon.
The Ministry of Education sponsored project “The Sino-Island: The Global Sinology Platform at Zhongshan” is not simply a public project in formalistic terms. It represents a sense of imagination and hope for the future. Its imaginative basis is grounded in developments around the notion of “mutual co-becoming,” which can serve as platform and bridge. With Taiwan’s humanistic local culture as the larger backdrop against which we conduct our work, and Kaoshiung’s oceanic port city as our homebase, we seek to on the one hand to produce “connected variations through the ancient and the modern,” re-evaluating classical Sinological resources, engaging with them deeply as tools to think with and respond to contemporary challenges. On the other hand, we seek to produced “connected variations between the Sino-cultural world and the West,” inviting Sinologists whose work intersects across various fields and cultures to converge within the space of our platform, working to develop the promise of what a “philosophy of co-becoming” could be. In this era of deep anxiety, we aim to speak of Taiwan as a “transcultural Sino-island,” giving full play to its soft cultural force, which is ever valuable, ever delicate.
莫加南（Mark McConaghy） 著〈中華寶島：反思「國際漢學平台」〉
“The Sino-Island: Thoughts on The Global Sinology Platform”
自七零年代末期，台灣在文化與政治上的民族主義開始浮出島嶼地表之上，成熟於八、九零年代，此一民族主義不僅僅反應當時台灣本土社會對白色恐怖的反感，也是針對過往黨國體制禁止所有與台灣歷史、語言和認同相關論述的尖銳批判。 台灣民族主義試圖跟日治時期反殖民的「台灣是台灣人的台灣」的社會、政治運動連結， 希望能進一步挖掘/建構/加強台灣的主體性與本土意識，此一論述將本土意識與大中華意識看成是兩種對立的他者，而譴責後者為外來的和壓迫性的。
Thoughts on The Global Sinology Platform
My initial impetus for working with professor Lai Hsi-san to launch this platform stemmed from a concern I had over what I long felt was a kind of epistemological crisis that marked the humanities in Taiwan. Taiwan is an blessed with some of the world’s leading libraries (for example the National Library), archives (for example Academia Sinica), and educational institutions related to Sinological research (including the many Chinese literature departments that dot the island). Sinology here is defined broadly as the Sino-world’s illustrious literary-historcal-philosophical (文史哲) tradition and its modern fate. No doubt this Sinological treasure-house was supported by the GMD state’s attempts after the 1949 crisis to represent a Sino-positive alternative to Maoist iconoclasm across the straits. Taiwan’s ability to attract luminaries of Chinese traditionalism and liberalism such as Mou Zongsan, Xu Fuguan, Qian Mu, Hu Shih, Fu Sinian and many others during this time set the foundations for the island to become the bastion of Sinological learning it is today. Such Sinological learning also drew sustenance during an earlier era of cultural activity on the island, where anti-colonial luminaries such as Lin Xiantang, Lien Heng, and Chiang Wei-shui turned to Chinese culture as source of value and identity during the 1920s and 30s.
However, beginning in the late 1970s and taking powerful shape throughout the 80s and 90s, Taiwanese political and cultural nationalism arouse as a reaction to not only the political terror of the martial period, but the suppression of discussion and research about Taiwanese history, languages, and identity that marked the period. Making connections back to the island centered anti-colonial movements of the Japanese colonial period (1895-1945), Taiwanese nationalist discourse sought to unearth/construct/strengthen a sense of Taiwanese subjectivity (台灣主體性) and consciousness (台灣意識), which it set up in opposition to the larger overall rubrics of Chinese identity and history (now read as oppressive and largely exogenous).
Since then, Chinese-language humanities on the island have largely cleaved into two tracks: the deep Sinological tradition linked to post-war liberal and Confucian Chinese intellectuals, intent on nurturing an alternative Chinese modernity to the PRC, and Taiwanese-centered historical and cultural study, whose underlying theoretical tenant is post-colonial theory, attempting to rescue and nurture a Taiwanese history and consciousness that Sinological learning (and the GMD state that supported it) are critiqued as having ignored.
One academic tradition is anchored in the deep time of Chinese history, being reverent of traditional learning, and identifies with China as source of civilizational value and identity. The other is committed to forging the cultural and civic foundations of a new Taiwanese nation unmoored from the ROC state project, doing so by emphasizing local authenticity over larger integration into the Chinese cultural world. One tradition’s master signifier is Sino, the other Taiwan.
It seems to me it is long past time to put these two solitudes into conversation with one another. To build a community of not just co-existence on the island, but common becoming, and to think of the ways in which Sino-culture is local Taiwanese culture (and vice-versa), without building false dichotomies between the exogenous and endogenous, richening both the island and the larger Chinese world in the process. Re-affirming Taiwan’s Sino-cultural past, present, and future can provide the island with a language to speak to the larger Sino-world off its Western and Southern coasts (an urgent task today), while retaining its commitment to democracy and self-definition that are the most precious gifts that local political struggles over the last one hundred years have given the island.
Can the impossible be accomplished? In the words of one of Lu Xun: “Hope isn’t the kind of thing that you can say either exists or doesn’t exist. It’s like a path across the land- it’s not there to begin with, but when lots of people go the same way, it comes into being.”