Chinese Harmonism

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* Book: Process and Pluralism. Chinese Thought on the Harmony of Diversity. Zhihe Wang. De Gruyter, 2013.


"This book offers a uniquely process relational oriented Chinese approach to inter-religious dialogue called Chinese Harmonism. The key features of Chinese harmonism are peaceful co-existence, mutual transformation, and openness to change. As developed with help from Whiteheadian process thought, Chinese harmonism provides a middle way between particularism and universalism, showing how diversity can exist within unity. Chinese harmonism is open to similarities among religions, but it also emphasizes that differences among religions can be complementary rather than contradictory. Thus Chinese harmonism implies an attitude of respect for others and a willingness to learn from others, without reducing the other to one’s own identity: that is, to sameness. By emphasizing the possibility of complementariness, a process oriented Chinese harmonism avoids a dichotomy between universalism and particularism represented respectively by John Hick and S. Mark Heim, and will make room for a genuine openness and do justice to the culturally and religiously “other.”

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Bob Mesle:

"Wang opens his presentation of Chinese harmonism by affirming that process thinking, in a deep sense much older than the modern process movement, is essential to Chinese traditions. “Process thinking has deeply influenced Chinese people’s way of thinking and way of living” (155). He coins the term harmonism partly to replace terms like pluralism and syncretism, which he considers inadequate to the depth of the Chinese tradition. By harmonism, he means “the activity of human beings as they open their hearts and minds to different religious traditions and hold them together in a unified and sympathetic appreciation. The traditions then become harmonized in their minds and hearts. But I use the word harmonism over harmonization, because I want to say that traditions can be brought together in the lives of human beings that already exist in some kind of harmony, even prior to being brought together” (156). Wang prefers harmonism to pluralism."