The distinctive feature and style of a country’s philosophy and social sciences is the result of development at a certain stage, and therefore a symbol of its maturity, strength and self-confidence. In the field of philosophy and social sciences in the world of today, China ranks high in the number of researchers and theses, and in government input. However, our standing in the areas of academic ideas, thoughts, viewpoints, and standards, and our voice in international academia, are still incommensurate with our overall national strength and international status.
To change this situation we must develop our philosophy and social sciences that are grounded in Chinese conditions, learn from other countries, show humanistic care, research into history, focus on the present, and look into the future. They should display salient Chinese features and style in such areas as guiding principles, range of disciplines, academic system and discourse system.
To date Chinese philosophy and social sciences have established their primary disciplinary system, but some pressing issues still exist. For instance, certain subjects have nothing much to do with social development; the primary disciplinary system is incomplete; and emerging and interdisciplinary subjects are still weak. What we should do next is therefore to build on our strengths, extend our fields of study, address our weaknesses, and generally improve the primary disciplinary system.
For this goal we should first strengthen Marxist subjects. Second, we should further improve pillar subjects, including philosophy, history, economics, political science, science of law, sociology, ethnology, journalism, demography, study of religions, and psychology, establishing a primary disciplinary system with Chinese features and international significance.
Third, we should pay great attention to important subjects in which we are strong. Fourth, we should give priority to emerging and interdisciplinary subjects of great practical significance, which offer potential for breakthroughs in Chinese philosophy and social sciences as a whole. Fifth, we should not neglect more marginal subjects that are of high cultural value or bear on Chinese heritage. These subjects may seem distant from the everyday life of today, but they are none the less relevant. As the Chinese saying goes: A country maintains its army for thousands of days for use in a single day’s battle. When in need, they can be readily used.
Some subjects bear on the continuity of China’s cultural heritage, such as the study of oracle bone inscriptions and other ancient scripts. We should treat these subjects seriously, and make sure that there are people working on them, and carrying them on from one generation to another.
In summary, we should endeavor to foster a philosophy and social science sector where the basic subjects are sound and complete, where we have a clear competitive edge in key subjects, where emerging and interdisciplinary subjects evolve creatively, where less popular subjects are given due academic attention from generation to generation, where basic research and applied research complement each other, and where academic research and application of research results are mutually reinforcing.