Who Is The Upright Man ? – Chinese/French Comparative Literature

Just wanna share with you my final work for Chinese Literature Class, Enjoy 🙂 

In this work, we will discuss about the concept of « upright man » in French Culture compared with famous Chinese book The Great Learning by 大學. I think that this topic is interesting to allow us understand more both French and Chinese culture. First of all, I will explain the concept of « upright man ». And after that, we will go further by looking in what kind of environment the upright man can evolve properly.

1- So, who is the Upright man ?

The upright man in The Great Learning is described as cultivated and generally comes from a good family. The aim for this upright man is to become an operate man. He walks in his own life and in that way, he also wants to find his own purpose. The main question which preoccupies him is : how can I live truly and fully ?

To try to find the answer, he works hard to his one-cultivation, to open his mind in the different ways of thinking and no matter what, he is happy. So why does he ?

Because, as Laozi said ‘Don’t look for the way of happiness, because the happiness, is the way.’

When this upright man will start to find himself, he will slowly be able to show happiness. So, he will improve his relations with his family, his relatives.

In China, the concept of society is new, so he will improve :

  • Him-self

  • His family

  • The State

  • The World

Indeed, the final way of this upright man is to have more knowledge, to understand more him-self and the world to finally, achieve his own purpose by practising what he learned.

In France, we also have this concept of upright man, we called that « l’honnête homme » He is gentle, kind, also have lot of knowledge. He can lead a nice conversation in society. He dominates his emotions and never acts with an extreme zeal. This concept was mentioned by Montaigne and Boileau (XVII Century)

The concept in France, is the same but one thing change : the french upright man positioned himself as the center of his own universe. Whereas, in the chinese view, that upright man, is a part of the whole universe. And this focus point is necessary to understand now, why Western societies are more individualistic and asian countries, more collective.

So after understanding this upright man, we will try to analyse the relation between him and the universe/the time.

2- In what kind of environment the upright man can evolve properly ?

The upright man is always looking for the « Great » This Great is the aim of his life but also at the same time, for what he is looking for. So to find this « Great » he had to walk in a very long way and do a very long journey : the journey of his own life. The way is too far, and sometimes, he loose the road, he fall in a deep matters and then, he came back in the road. He turns back and follows the way.

As Laozi said «  Before and After, follow each other »

If we understand this statement, we can also easily figure out this idea too : nothing without something have no purpose.

For exemple, If we have a classroom, we can see that this classroom is empty. And because Its empty, it can be filled by air.

The same as If we talk about darkness/enlightening and sadness/happiness.

Without a small flakes of hope, we can not stand that we completely fall deeply.

Without a sharply pain, we can not feel completely happy.

Because, the pain made us realize, when we are happy, that the pain goes by …

So, we understand more in what way the upright man involves. We can do a comparison between chinese way and western way : the chinese view of seeing life is like a cercle, we begin the road, we walk, we come back and turn. Constantly.

But the Western view is more linear. We lived the past, our past made us become an unique person, the person we are today. We try to live in the present and we don’t know in what the future is made tomorrow. We just have dreams and expectations to feed it.

I want to add a personal point of view, I think arabic view of time and universe is a mix between chinese and western way of thinking. Indeed, we can see our lives as linear in an horizontal view (us with others) and in a vertical view, (us and God) is like a cercle because we live, we death and we renew. Always.

To conclude, all this reflexions can allow us to understand more who is the upright man in french and chinese culture and where he can evolves properly.

(About 806 Words)

Thank you for reading

Radja  马月希


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