The Re-Connection of Marx with Classical Humanism

SATURDAY June 3rd Session 3: 3:30pm - 5:15pm
This panel will document the transformation of Chinese Marxism from the Engels-Lenin- Stalinist definition of an actualized communist society toward the Greek tradition of civic humanism. Influenced by contemporary Euro-American interpretations of Marx’s theory of the highest stage of communist society present day Chinese scholars have abandoned their dedication to Stalinism, which envisioned the highest stage of communist society as economic egalitarianism and now advocate a definition of the highest stage of communist society in the civic humanist tradition of social justice and individual excellence , or arete. This panel provides invaluable insights into the contemporary evolution of Chinese Marxism. It is in a moment of transition, freeing itself from the Stalinist past and opening a dialogue with Western Marxism, or the birth of Sino-Western Marxism. Prof. Shuguang’s paper disassociates Marxism from authoritarianism, or the Stalinist model. Shuguang’s paper separates Marx from Plato’s REPUBLIC. He establishes that Marx did not perpetuate the Platonic dictatorship, but rather advocated for a society which promoted individual potentials. Platonic hierarchies were antithetical to Marx. Prof. Kejian’s article demonstrates the enormous influence of Aristotle on Marx, particularly Aristotle’s THE NICOMACHEAN ETHICS and THE POLITICS. Kejian documents that Marx’s vision of communism was not materialistic, but essentially an ethical formulation. The Europe of the Age of Materialism in the 19th Cent. distorted Marx and Kejian’s essay recaptures the Aristotelian ethics embedded in Marx, or communism as the rebirth of the civic humanist tradition. Marx’s call for the abolition of the state and class was not a call for anarchy, but for community. True community did not restrict the development of individual potential and Marx’s communitarianism was the realization of the civic humanist, the polis ideal,supportive of community solidarity. Prof. Levine’s presentation is an in depth study of Aristotle’s influence on Marx. Specifically, it demonstrates Marx’s awareness and utilization of two vital concepts of Aristotle’s political theory, the concepts of proportionate equality and the concept of distributive justice. Aristotle was not a communist, he defended private property, but he was aware that the unequal distribution of property, massive class inequality, was the cause of political revolution. The most efficient way to eliminate violent political upheaval was by means of an extensive distribution of commensurate, nearly equivalent proportions of property, throughout the entire population. Aristotle did not talk of the equality of property, but the proportionate balance of ownership. In addition, Marx’s writings were a critique of natural rights theory. Marx critiqued natural rights theory from the Stoics to John Locke and Hegel. For Marx, natural rights theory was the basis of economic inequality. By legitimating private property Western political theory only provided a justification for enormous class differentiation. In addition,Marx attacked the social ethic of possessive individualism. Marx praised the work of Bernard Mandeville, THE FABLE OF THE BEES, because Mandeville illustrated how natural rights theory served to justify the greed, excessiveness and class domination of the propertied. Not only was Marxism an economics, but also a political theorist. Perpetuating the civic humanism of Aristotle Marx’s political theory was a condemnation of the political theory of individual rights as the realization of capitalist inequality. Marx rebelled against the 17th, 18th and 19th Cent. natural rights doctrine.
Chair/First Facilitator/Speaker First Name: 
Chair/First Facilitator/Speaker Last Name: 
Chair/First Facilitator/Speaker Biography: 
Prof. Norman Levine received his PH.D. fro New York University in 1965. He was on the faculties at DePauw University,Greencastle, Indiana,and the University of Maryland until his retirement.Prof. Levine published 35 articles in scholarly journals and published 9 books in the field of History. One of his books is entitled THE DISCOURSE OF LOVE: PAGANISM which was published by the University Press of America.This book is a study of the concept of love in the Greek and Roman worlds. Prof. Levine is in the process of completing Volumes Two and Three of this series: Volume Two will deal with the Middle Ages and the 19th Cent. while Volume Three will analyse the contemporary world.
Speaker 1/Second Facilitator First Name: 
Speaker 1/Second Facilitator Last Name: 
Speaker 1/Second Facilitator Affiliation: 
professor of Philosophy at Beijing Normal University, a member of School Academic Committee
Speaker 1/Second Facilitator Biography: 
He is born in 1956, his early years (1966-1976) were strongly influenced by Chinese Cultural Revolution, after his graduation from high school in 1972, he was sent to rural areas to work as a result of "Up to the Mountains and Down to the Countryside Movement" in China. During 1975-1978, He went to study in Anyang Normal University, Henan Province and then attended Henan University and received a master's degree there in 1981. Before joining Beijing Normal University, he joined with faculty at Henan University and Huazhong University of Science and Technology. Professor Zhang's major teaching and research areas are Marxist Philosophy, Value and Culture, Modernity and Modern Fate of Chinese Nation. Professor Zhang published his first paper in "Philosophical Researches" in 1982, since then, he has published eight books and more than 180 papers in Chinese and International academic journals. His papers such as "The Reality and Transcendence of the Study of Marxist Philosophy - A Reflection and Criticism Based on Human Existence and its Historical Circumstances"; published in "Social Sciences in China" (2006), "Historical Materialism and its "China Experience"" published in Philosophical Researches (2008) and the book "The Reconstruction of Value and Order" published by People's Publishing House (2016) obtained a good response in the academic community.
Speaker 2/Third Facilitator First Name: 
Speaker 2/Third Facilitator Last Name: 
Speaker 2/Third Facilitator Affiliation: 
School of Philosophy - Beijing Normal University
Panel/Workshop Organizer First Name: 
Panel/Workshop Organizer Last Name: 

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