Anxiety, “Concerned Consciousness” and Their Manifestation in the COVID-19 Pandemic in China

Authors

  • Téa SERNELJ University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Arts, Slovenia

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.4312/as.2022.10.1.155-182

Keywords:

the concept of concerned consciousness, youhuan yishi, Xu Fuguan, anxiety, China, COVID-19

Abstract

The article examines the specifics of the Chinese containment measures of the COVID-19 pandemic and their social consequences at the beginning of 2021. The author analyses empirical psychological research results on distress and anxiety of people in times of the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in China, and explores to what degree the individual feelings of anxiety in contemporary China are conditioned by the traditionally prevailing absence of faith in higher transcendent forces on the one hand, and social isolation on the other. It proceeds from Xu Fuguan’s interpretation of the origins of a traditional Chinese concept of “concerned consciousness” (youhuan yishi 憂患意識). The author shows that this concept can be compared to the feeling of anxiety, but highlights important differences which separate it from the anxiety as developed and understood in the framework of modern Western philosophy. The paper aims to provide some preliminary answers to the questions of whether and in what way such a traditional feeling of anxiety in the sense of a “concerned consciousness” manifested itself in the period of social isolation that was implemented as a part of the government measures for the COVID-19 pandemic in China. These questions are being investigated through an analysis of philosophical studies on concerned consciousness on the on hand, and a contemporary case study on the other. The results show that the specifically Chinese kind of anxiety, which is rooted in concerned consciousness, is tightly linked to the relational nature of Chinese ethics and the corresponding understanding of individual identity. In addition, it is connected with the traditional understanding of human destiny, which is not fatalistic or determinist, but rather based on autonomous decisions based on the social responsibilities of a free human self.

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Published

19.01.2022

How to Cite

Sernelj, T. (2022). Anxiety, “Concerned Consciousness” and Their Manifestation in the COVID-19 Pandemic in China. Asian Studies, 10(1), 155–182. https://doi.org/10.4312/as.2022.10.1.155-182