By Teresa Kuan
Read Online or Download Love's Uncertainty: The Politics and Ethics of Child Rearing in Contemporary China PDF
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Extra resources for Love's Uncertainty: The Politics and Ethics of Child Rearing in Contemporary China
At first, the couple did not pay much attention. But when their son continued to complain, Huang decided to investigate the matter for himself. He used having to bring his son something warm to wear as an excuse to visit one day, and he came upon a scene that looked to him like utter chaos. Huang recalls, “The instructors on duty were three art department graduate students. One male student sat on the podium staring at the ceiling with his legs crossed, a female student paced around chewing gum, another stared out the window at the snow absentmindedly” (17).
Jullien acknowledges this possibility when “praising” the bland personality, that is, the sage who avoids attachment to any one virtue in developing greater powers ( 2004: 59–61). But this is precisely my point: as banal, conformist, and opportunistic as middle-class Chinese parenting may appear to be, maternal effort expresses an ethics of trying and of artful disposition. Like the generals and rulers addressed in the ancient texts, parents work to exercise discernment and to identify opportunities for taking initiative and managing tendencies.
A treatise on the art of war, the Sunzi asserts that the virtue of an individual soldier, whether he is intrinsically cowardly or brave, is not as consequential as the means by which he is deployed. , if they benefit from the potential born of disposition], then the cowardly are brave; if they lose it, then the brave are cowardly” (from a commentary quoted in Jullien  1995: 30). Chinese views on the relationship between human subjectivity and historical circumstance are similar. In the Legalist text Shangjunshu (fourth century bce), “Public morality stems entirely from the historical conditions of the era: if, because of a totalitarian regime, the situation is such that it is no longer possible to behave badly, even the worst brigands will become trustworthy.