Keynote 4

Balancing Predicament of Propriety in Combating COVID-19 Pandemic: Comparative Cases of China and the United States

16 Sep 2020

9:00 – 10:00 a.m. (GMT +08:00)

Dr. George HONG

Professor in the Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education, Fordham University, New York

George Hong is professor of the Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education at Fordham University. His research fields cover economic history, religious studies and US-China relations. He has published 9 books and more than 120 research articles.

Abstract: While combating the COVID-19 pandemic, few people, if any, are capable of conducting themselves in an appropriate, rational, and balanced manner or behaving in such a way toward others due to our common defects and weaknesses as humans — such as self-interests, ignorance and arrogance. This presentation, first of all, defines and discusses the integrated philosophy of Eastern moderation and Western propriety, as developed by Confucius, Aristotle and Adam Smith, including its essential concepts such as impartial midpoint, mediocrity, evolution, rationality, peace, and relativity. Furthermore, selecting several cases related to the experiences of combating COVID-19 in China and the United States since January 2020, the presentation addresses the common dilemmas and challenges posed by either excess or deficiency of human behaviors and political policies, which have led to various unnecessary disasters in the past months. In addition, this talk provides various critical reflections on the lack of appropriateness, proposes new interpretations and practical solutions with the use of the Laffer Curve, Marshall Equilibrium Curve, and the presenter’s own “propriety curve.” The presenter argues that once we acknowledge the common weaknesses of human nature, we will be able to promote three positive attitudes and actions, such as tolerating others’ weaknesses, learning how to criticize ourselves, and optimizing human virtues. Finally, the presentation will raise a critical issue: in addition to medical science and technology, which factor is the most vital in combating COVID-19 – institution, culture, or humanity? The presenter calls for facilitating an education on enlightenment, promoting a transformation of culture, and enhancing decision-makers’ wisdom designed to foster an appropriate culture, establish an appropriate institution, and advance an appropriate humanity and morality. 

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The opinions expressed by the speakers represent their own views, and do not reflect HKBU’s position.

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