Executive Summary

The world needs to work together to face many profound challenges, ranging from economic and political spheres and extending far beyond. At the root of many of these problems is the human race’s lack of sensibility and maturity. Given our current moment in history, when human beings might either slip into the path of self-destruction or stand up to thrive, we cannot afford to not engage in a genuine dialogue of civilisations – the only path toward finding solutions to the crisis of humanity. Through examining major world civilisations, this study is an effort to explore the question: What are the true meanings of humanity’s innate ethical origins and internal subjectivity in which human spirituality is situated, cultivated, and developed? What are practical ways for humans to unfold the potential in each of our original existence, that would allow us to have a harmonious and flourishing spiritual life together?

This paper examines the transformation of a person, via one’s own deliberate effort, from a mere ‘individual’, to a ‘subject’. It presents a dilemma between choosing the position of weak or passive subjectivity, or a position of strong or positive subjectivity, and proposes a third alternative – a dialogical subjectivity – as a solution. The self-motivated establishment of ‘dialogical subjectivity’ on the one hand opens up one’s subjectivity to the external world, and on the other hand internalises the world into one’s subjectivity. The former is an infinite expansion of the objective world in front of the subject, while the latter is an unending development of the subject’s realm of meaning. The conclusion is that reaching the realm of co-humanity among different civilisations is the way-out of humanity’s crisis. Through the practical and necessary social activity of human subjects, human existence – its meaning and value – can finally be actualised.

The views and opinions expressed in this publication are those of the original author(s) and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views and opinions of the Dialogue of Civilizations Research Institute, its co-founders, or its staff members.

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Jiahong Chen
Jiahong Chen completed her Ph.D. in Social Sciences and Comparative Education from UCLA. Her research runs across the philosophy of education, dialogue among civilisations and cross cultural inquiry of humanist education. Previously she served as Vice Director of the Centre for Dialogue among Civilizations at the Institute for Advanced Humanistic Studies, Peking University, as well as Secretary General of the World Ethics Institute at Peking University. She was a fellow at the East and West Centre, Asia Pacific Higher Education Research Partnership and now a visiting research fellow at Peking University.​