Professor Thomé H. Fang and His Ideals of Education
[Editors Note:]The following is a Keynote Speech delivered to the opening session of the First International Symposium on the Philosophy of Thomé H. Fang, August 16, 1987, Taipei, Taiwan, ROC. Mr. Lee, graduated with M.A. in political science from Columbia University, New York, N. Y., and awarded Honorary Doctoral Degree by the National University of Seoul, Korea, has served as President of the National Sun Yat-sen University, Kaohsiung, Taiwan, Minister of Education, and Prime Minister for the Nationalist Government there. He was taught by the philosopher in Chungking during the war-time in the early 40s. After the philosophers passing, he and his associates, Director Pan Chen-chiu and Director You Te-bin, had taken good care of the widowed Madame Fang until her death in 1991.
Mr. Chairman, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen:
In commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the passing of Profes-sor Thomé H. Fang, the great philosopher of our time, scholars and experts both at home and from abroad have gathered here to attend this Symposium on his philosophy and thought. We are thereby enabled to make an in-depth study of the spirit of Eastern and Western cultures from a comparative perspective, in order to seek a way out of the crises for humankind in the present age. Undoubtedly, this significant event will have a far-reaching impact. It is therefore my greatest privilege and honor to have been invited by the Executive Committee to participate by offering these few words at the opening ceremony.
As a student of Professor Fangs over forty years ago, I myself am deeply convinced that he was not only a great philosopher, but also a great educator of the highest order. Although not many of his works were devoted to a specific discussion of educational issues, nevertheless we may say that these constituted a pervading theme in all his discourses. Also, for over half a century he had dedicated himself to teaching as a career and today his disciples are to he found throughout the world. He is truly the archetype of a great educator, with his devoted and indefatigable character.
The basic issue of education is humanity. Professor Fang makes specific references to Sigmund Freud, the psychologist, and Freuds views as enunciated in Creativity and the Unconscious. There it is asserted that from the 17tll century onwards humanity has been dealt three heavy blows.
The first blow is astronomical. From time immemorial, humanity has always regarded itself as the center of the universe. But post-Coper-nican astronomy has treated the earth as but a tiny planet around the sun, and the whole solar system as but a tiny speck in a vast universe of infinitude, compared with which humankind is even tinier than a speck, too insignificant to be mentioned at all.
The second blow is biological. Humanity has always regarded itself as the paragon of all creatures.
As a result of these three heavy blows, humankind is no longer great but small; no longer noble but base. The so-called human nature is almost entirely reducible to animal nature. Thus, the essential nature of humanity has become quite problematic. As well pointed out try Max Scheler, the outstanding German philosophical anthropologist, "In the ten thousand years of history, we are the first age in which man has become utterly and unconditionally problematic to himself, in which he no longer knows who he is; but at the same time knows that he does not know" (Man and History). Consequently, despite the ever growing luxury life, enjoyed due to progress in technology and economic prosperity, humankind has lost itself. Numerous inhuman phenomena that tend to destroy good human relationships emerge frequently. Hence, arises one serious crisis for human destiny.
Precisely to deal with such a critical situation, Professor Fang presented his seminal ideas and original insights by coining a new term in philosophical psychology, "height-sychology." He maintained that, in addition to the above mentioned three heavy blows, a fourth one of utmost seriousness and devastation has been dealt in the sociological sense: Materialism and Communism. Our failure to gain an insight into our true nature is basically due to our habitual ways of self-perception and understanding in light of "flat-psychology" or "surface-psychology," or even in Freuds so-called "depth-psychology," whereby we understand human nature as a condition of primitive chaos or chimera. Thus, one sees nothing but a bundle of instincts or a cluster of impulses. As a result, humankind is indistinguishable from other animals. As advanced by Professor Fang, height-psychology attempts to elevate humanity to the heights of spirituality by virtue of which, naturally, we have made manifest our own nobility and dignity, which have been hitherto ignored, neglected, or deliberately by-passed. Viewed from the perspective of height-psychology, human nobility, dignity, greatness, and creativity spontaneously reveal themselves. They are to be continually cultivated, fulfilled, elevated through edification, cultural refinement, and self-education as self-transcendence so as to fully develop our creative powers in science and technology, in art and literature, in philosophy and religion, etc., wherein our forebears had so remarkably distinguished themselves in the past thousands of years of history. Obviously, then, given this corrective, humanity can never be weighed down by any of the heavy blows mentioned above.
Professor Fang has cited A. N. Whitehead in Aims of Education to illustrate the importance of height-psychology: Unlike the young high school students who have often spent their days working at the desk or in the laboratory, heads drooping and backs bent, those who are university-educated should each hold up their heads, stand straight up, and look around them to realize that true education is intended for the cultivation of true talents, for the development of inward virtues, natural capacities, or even genius. They will then be able to work wonders in the intellectual and moral senses, by making great contributions not to their own countries alone, but to all of humankind in the world as a whole.
Our Symposium participants today are men and women of high achievement in philosophy in terms of scholarship, discipline and insight. If approaches can be discovered to lead us out of these baffling human predicaments, if solutions can be found in light of Professor Fang’s broad and far-sighted ideals of culture as education, the so-called crises and blows humankind now faces can all be transformed into new possibilities for creative vitality, thus opening up new vistas of greater prospect for humankind and human culture. To this I sincerely looking forward and, with all my heart, I do pray for its realization. I am convinced that with your distinctive achievements in philosophy, along with your high wisdom and ability, you definitely will be able to further develop the spirit of Professor Fang’s career as both philosopher and educator. This you will do by creating such great works of thought and ideas and making such great contributions to your communities, your nations, and the whole world as will shed everlasting illumination throughout the future course of human history and culture. Thank you!