The latter, of course, has nothing to do with the mere continuation of the past.
The key to solving these questions lies, I believe, in the fundamental notion of Chinese thought — a notion of change.
It is the idea of change and of its logical outcome — the inner continuity of change (because the change must change itself and thus arrive at the unchangeable) that led Chinese thinkers to postulate as the ground of their thinking the very limit of the existential Self where purified transformations of temporal (and thus corporeal) Self merge with the pure dynamism of the primal act of consciousness.
According to them, Chinese thought operates with a concept of “the Focus-Field Self’ which reduces self-consciousness to the “awareness of one’s role as a locus of observation by others” while acknowledging that such a Self has the quality of deference, or self-elusiveness The “deferential” Self is able to transform its individuating capacity (embodied in one’s “virtue” or de) into integrating power and to extend oneself to the point of being able to embrace the indeterminate field of its context.
Ames in their recent book «Thinking from the Han» argue that the Western philosophical inventory related to the idea of Self is irrelevant for Sinological studies.
Chinese tradition does postulate the existence of reality that can be lived and referred to but cannot be known, not even grasped in intuition.
It is being-becoming, self- concealing in its very openness, which is designated by the semantics of the main philosophical terms of China.It is well known that so called Chinatowns have become the most common institutionalized form of Chinese civilization’s global existence. What is Chinatown’s cultural nature as well as its historical significance? The Taoist version of this idea stresses the “non-subjective” (wu-wo) nature of authentic Selfhood.To answer these questions we have to look at first at the foundations of Chinese cultural identity as they have evolved in China’s history. It does not negate subjectivity completely but, as Hall and Ames are careful to point out, proscribes the non-assertive, responsive and creative mode of its existence .The supreme value of tradition is neither objective knowledge nor creation, but the non-subjective sincerity of expression which transforms the finite act into a consummating event and makes it a precise non-expression, a spontaneous appropriation of being’s temporality and thus — an act of going along with the world.The continuity of tradition presupposes that to affirm one’s true Self one must forget oneself.This perspective on subjectivity creates the need for the new hermeneutics that must dispense with the metaphysics of self-identity while presuming the possibility of the unitary Self.