Interesting talk between Mao and Kissinger on Hegel and Indian philosophy
http://history.state.gov/historicaldocu ... -76v18/d58
Chairman Mao: That is so. You are now freer than before.
The Secretary: Much more.
Chairman Mao: And the philosopher of your motherland, Hegel, has said—I don't know whether it is the correct English translation—” freedom means the knowledge of necessity.”
The Secretary: Yes.
Chairman Mao: Do you pay attention or not to one of the subjects of Hegel's philosophy, that is, the unity of opposites?
The Secretary: Very much. I was much influenced by Hegel in my philosophic thinking.
Chairman Mao: Both Hegel and Feuerbach, who came a little later after him. They were both great thinkers. And Marxism came partially from them. They were predecessors of Marx. If it were not for Hegel and Feuerbach, there would not be Marxism.
The Secretary: Yes. Marx reversed the tendency of Hegel, but he adopted the basic theory.
Chairman Mao: What kind of doctor are you? Are you a doctor of philosophy?
The Secretary: Yes (laughter).
Chairman Mao: Yes, well, then won't you give me a lecture?
The Secretary: I think the Chairman knows much more philosophy than I. And he has written profoundly about philosophy. I used to shock my colleagues, Mr. Chairman, by assigning essays from your collected works, in my courses in the 1960s at Harvard.
Chairman Mao: I, myself, am not satisfied with myself. The main thing is that I don't understand foreign languages and, therefore, I am unable to read books of Germans or Englishmen or Americans.
The Secretary: I can't read German in its original form. I must translate into English, because it is too complicated in its original form. This is quite true. Some of the points of Hegel—quite seriously—I understand better in English than German, even though German is my mother language.
Prime Minister Chou: Because of the intricate structure of the German grammar, it sometimes gets misinterpreted if one doesn't understand the grammar correctly. Therefore, it's not easy to understand the German language and especially the reasoning of various works.
Chairman Mao: (To Prime Minister Chou) Don't you know some German?
Prime Minister Chou: I learned in my youth; now I've forgotten it.
The Secretary: German sentences are long, and the grammar is involved. Therefore, it's easier to understand English than German. One of the characteristics of the German language…
Prime Minister Chou: Yesterday, a few of those who know German were joking together that German sentences are so long in length that they are quite a few pages, and one does not understand the sentences until you find the final verb, and the verb is at the very end. That, of course, is exaggerated. One sentence does not take several pages.
Chairman Mao: Did you meet Kuo Mo-juo who understands German? Now we are discussing Hegel, and I give you an opinion.
The Secretary: I don't know the gentleman that the Chairman was mentioning.
Chairman Mao: He is a man who worships Confucius, but he is now a member of our Central Committee.
Let's go back to Hegel. In Hegel's history of philosophy, he mentioned Confucius who he showed great disrespect. He showed more respect for Laotze, but he showed the greatest respect for the philosophy of Indian Buddhism.
The Secretary: I don't quite agree with him (the Chairman) on that last point. That's a very passive philosophy.
Chairman Mao: And I also believe that that was not a correct way of saying. And this is not only true of Hegel.
The Secretary: There is a sentimental love affair between Western intellectuals and India based on a complete misreading of the Indian philosophy of life. Indian philosophy was never meant to have a practical application.
Chairman Mao: It's just a bunch of empty words.
The Secretary: For Gandhi, nonviolence wasn't a philosophic principle, but because he thought the British were too moralistic and sentimental to use violence against. They are nonsentimental people. For Gandhi it was a revolutionary tactic, not an ethical principle.
Chairman Mao: And he himself would spin his own wool and drink goat's milk.
The Secretary: But it was essentially a tactical device for him.
Chairman Mao: And the influence of Gandhi's doctrine on the Indian people was to induce them into nonresistance.
The Secretary: Partly, but also given the character and diversity of the English people, it was only a way to conduct the struggle against the British. So I think Gandhi deserves credit of having won independence against the British.
Alternative Display:Mobile view