Interview: Croatian scholar highlights importance of cross-cultural dialogue between Europe, China


  • World
  • Tuesday, 05 Dec 2023

ZAGREB, Dec. 4 (Xinhua) -- Cross-cultural dialogues between Europe and China are important as they help solve conflicts and disputes, Ivana Buljan, associate professor and head of the Department of Sinology at the University of Zagreb, told Xinhua in a recent interview.

"I think cross-cultural dialogue is important and it should be conducted by respecting the cultural differences," Buljan said, adding that there were no elements or quantifiers that could measure which culture was more valuable than the other.

Buljan, who is Croatia's first and so far only citizen to hold a doctorate in Chinese philosophy, said she believed that cross-cultural dialogues between Europe and China, especially between European philosophy and Chinese philosophy, were not at a high level and the status of Chinese philosophy in Europe was not sufficiently represented.

Therefore, the aim of the European Association for Chinese Philosophy, which was established in 2014 and of which Buljan was one of the co-founders, was to promote Chinese philosophy and raise its status in Europe "because we believe that Chinese philosophy offers wonderful answers, very important answers that can stimulate this cross-cultural dialogue," she said.

Buljan became interested in Chinese philosophy when she realized that certain philosophical questions and problems which Western philosophy could not answer were solved in Chinese philosophy, and this realization changed the direction of her academic studies from contemporary Western philosophy to Chinese philosophy, with a focus on classical Chinese philosophy.

Having studied Chinese philosophy and language at the Central China Normal University in Wuhan and at Peking University, as well as at the Ghent University in Belgium, in 2013 she obtained a double doctorate from the Ghent University in oriental languages and culture and the University of Zagreb in Chinese philosophy.

"I am proud to have achieved this," she said. "The path was very difficult, because I did not have a mentor in Croatia, so I had to find mentors abroad."

According to Buljan, for modern Europeans, Chinese philosophy could have "therapeutic value" and could teach them how to live a joyful life, how to attain a still and clear mind, and how to achieve harmony in family and community.

"I think that Chinese philosophy may open to Europeans new ways of thinking and acting, creating new values, in particular regarding his/her relationship toward tradition, community, family and nature," she said, adding that Chinese philosophy could also teach many people about the art of living, the right way to live, the right way to manage the state and regulate the body.

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