December 30, 2022, a special memorial service for the late world known constructive postmodern thinker Dr. David Griffin was held online by the Institute for Postmodern Development of China (IPDC) and the Center for Process Studies (CPS). The event was gathered with scholars and thinkers from China and the US to honor David Griffin’s academic legacy and impact.
The event was hosted by Dr. Fan Meijun, Project Director of the IPDC and Co-director of China Project of CPS. With simultaneous translation help from two well-known ecological translators Ms. Gao Heran and Ms. Zhang Yujia. The event was attended by more than 160 famous Chinese and foreign scholars and public figures in the field of environmental protection and public welfare, with a live stream audience of 560,000 people through Peking University and the Baidu media platform.
In her opening speech, Dr. Fan grieved that the tragic passing of David is not only a great loss for Mrs. Griffin and her family but also a great loss for the American process community and as well as the world. In 2012, when Griffin attended an academic conference at China’s Southeast University, the then head for the Nanjing University affectionately expressed that this generation of scholars had grown up reading David’s books, especially his books, Reenchantment of Science and Spirituality and Society. Upon hearing about his death, Chinese scholars sent condolences and wrote poems and articles to honor and remember him. That is also the main reason behind this online memorial service.
The memorial ceremony started with “You Love, therefore You Are-Chinese Tribute to Dr. David Ray Griffin“, a short film dedicated to the event made by the renowned ecological director Mr. Tan Yiyong and his team.
Dr. Griffin’s mentor, John Cobb Jr., spoke highly of Griffin’s academic level and rigorous truth-seeking attitude. He believed that Dr. Griffin was good at using cautious, respectful, and academic opinions to respond to his academic opponents and that Dr. Griffin’s courage and great dedication to seeking truth could be compared with Gandhi and Martin Luther King.
Dr. Wm. Andrew Schwartz, Executive Director of the Center for Process Studies, told stories about Dr. Griffin’s struggle with the disease at a late stage and remembered his early days as the founding executive director of the CPS. Dr. Schwartz thinks that David was an uncommonly clear and systematic thinker. He was as bold as he was brilliant, drawn to difficult topics that most others shied away from. The depth and breadth of his work, engaging important issues with a keen and kind mind, has been the model for the Center for Process Studies and continues to guide us into the future.
In her speech, Rev. Bonnie Tarwater, the representative of the Living Earth Movement, said Griffin’s ideas changed and inspired her life. She believes that Dr. Griffin’s fearlessness and perseverance in speaking the truth is a continuing inspiration to all of us. Griffin was a bright light of courage of our time and looking forward to David’s spirit continuously blessings our work to inspire global cooperation for the sake of all life on our planet, beginning with the US and China.
Professor Lu Shuyuan, a leading scholar in the field of ecological criticism in China and the winner of the 2018 “John Cobb Common Good Award,” said in his speech:
Professor Griffin is a world-renowned constructive postmodern thinker and an outstanding successor to Whitehead’s process philosophy, and he has had a great influence in Chinese academia. On my way of engaging in ecocriticism and ecological culture research, Professor Griffin’s works have given me many inspirations and incentives. I remembered him as a handsome, warmhearted thinker. In fact, he is a man with radical thinking, sharp writing, and strong political consciousness, and he is truly an ecological fighter. His life carries on in our hearts.
Liu Xiaoting, vice chairman of the Chinese Society of Dialectics of Nature and professor at Beijing Normal University, expressed his infinite reverence and missing feelings for Griffin in a poem, which summed up: Griffin is a true gentleman, as bright as the sun and the moon.
Professor Sandra Lubarsky, president of Flagstaff College in the United States, described Mr. Griffin as having the qualities of a knight: bravery, integrity, courage, and nobility. She remembered that Mr. Griffin, as a young trumpet player, had the wit and keen mind of both a philosopher and a theologian and was committed to advancing truth and goodness. He was a polymath and was admired and feared. Griffin is a visionary motivated by loyalty to the truth, the world, and a persuasive, loving God. He believed that we are called to do better by each other. He married radical amazement with radical inquiry and argued tirelessly and persuasively that a shift to process-relational metaphysics, to a constructive post-modern worldview, would move us away from life-eroding ways of being to life-affirming ones.
In his speech, Dr. Shi Ruijie, president of Tianjin Academy of Social Sciences, introduced the influence of Griffin’s postmodern thought in China and proposed that the best memorial to Griffin’s postmodern spirit is to continue to combine this spirit with practice in China, which guides our local practice in viewing the relationship between man, nature and the society.
The topic of Professor Wang Yin’s speech was “Linguistic View of Constructive Postmodern Philosophers”.
Prof. Wang Yin is president of China-West Society for Linguistic Philosophy, a senior professor at Sichuan Foreign Language University. In his speech, he discussed the Linguistic views of three constructive postmodern philosophers, John Cobb, David Griffin, and Zhihe Wang. He believed that Griffin’s view of language and his brilliant thoughts would live on forever in people’s hearts.
Mr. Pei Yong, executive director of China Culture Fond, former high official at China Religion Bureau, believes that Professor Griffin is a strong advocate of constructive postmodern thought and ecological civilization and a true American intellectual with an independent spirit. In addition to his ideological and philosophical insights, Griffin is concerned about the fate of humanity and social justice. He has the courage to seek the truth, expose the hypocritical nature of capital forces, and oppose the US military-industrial complex and the false free market economic model of financial bloodsucking. Griffin’s fearless spirit is moving and admirable.
Prof. Qu Yuehou, the translator of the Chinese translation of Process Theology: An Introductory Exposition by Cobb and Dr. Griffin. He quotes the famous contemporary Chinese poet Zangkejia’s poem “Some people are dead, but he is still alive; Some people are alive, but they are dead” to praise Griffin, believing that Griffin belongs to the world, to eternity. He believed he would see Dr. Griffin again in the next life.
Professor Xiao Xianjing, a doctoral supervisor at South China Normal University, described Griffin as “a scholar whom I have never met yet made a great impact on me.” Dr. Griffin’s thought of “postmodern science” opens a window to study the relationship between science and environmental problems from the perspective of the philosophy of science, which has important significance and value.
Professor Philip Clayton, President of the IPDC, shared three stories that happened during his 42 years of working with Dr. Griffin. He told about Dr. Griffin’s enthusiasm for work, insight into the philosophy of process, enthusiasm and humorous attitude towards life, and courage to fight against illness. Professor Clayton considers Dr. Griffin one of the most significant process philosophers, an outstanding Whitehead researcher, and a model for all in the international process community.
Professor Yang Fubin, executive Dean of Honor College of Beijing Institute of Technology Zhuhai and director of Ecological Civilization Development Center, spoke highly of Professor Griffin’s postmodern thought. He quotes Whitehead in “On Immortality” about the immortality of value that Professor Griffin created in his life. He points out that Dr. Griffin’s outstanding contribution to philosophy will surely go down in the history of human thought and live forever in the hearts of those who insist on process philosophy and constructive postmodernism with his distinctive style of thought.
Hu Yingfeng, the chief editor of Poyang Lake Journal, Jiangxi Academy of Social Sciences, a well-known ecological journal in China, sees Dr. Griffin as an ecologist loyal to the world, a philosopher concerned about life on earth, a remarkable and constructive postmodern thinker, and an extraordinary force in life, like the light, always in that place. Editor Hu thinks the best thing we can remember about Dr. Griffin is reading his books, studying his thoughts, what he said, what we saw from them, and what enlightenment and wisdom we gained. She wants more people to read Dr. Griffin.
Ms. Liao Xiaoyi, a famous environmental leader, thanked the IPDC for organizing this memorial service whch offers her and her Beijing Global Village colleagues the opportunity to cherish the memory of Dr. Griffin. She fondly remembered Dr. Griffin’s voice and appearance and his kindness and enthusiasm to everyone. She stressed that the best way to honor him is to carry on his legacy of caring for our living planet.
Mr. Lu Weidong, founder of Teal Planet, a community for constructive postmodern practitioners in China, said, “Dr. Griffin is the most influential process thinker and public intellectual of my time.” He sees Dr. Griffin’s writings, ideas, and personality as his unique response to the divine reality. As a consistent truth-seeker, warrior, and compassionate public intellectual, Dr. Griffin’s insights, and spirit will continue to guide people in the future in disseminating organic process philosophy, process theology, and constructive postmodernism. He believed that Dr. Griffin would continue to contribute to the goodness and beauty of the universe in a new form of life.
Professor Yang Li, PhD, supervisor at Harbin Normal University, shared her inspiration and education from Dr. Griffin’s book Founders of Constructive Postmodern Philosophy. Dr. Griffin is the initiator of her research on Whitehead’s organic philosophy and constructive postmodern philosophy. Reading his works gives her feel a profound insight into his thought.
Professor Wu Weifu from Zhejiang Open University talked about his four encounters with Dr. Griffin, from his first acquaintance with Dr. Griffin and the constructive postmodernism movement led by him to his intensive reading of Dr. Griffin’s book The Reenchantment of Science to his deep study of Dr. Griffin’s integration of life and knowledge into a noble quality and realm of life. Professor Wu believes that Dr. Griffin is a master of philosophy, a master of theology, a great man of our time, an anti-imperialist fighter, and an ecological saint. His thoughts will always be a great treasure and spiritual guide for mankind.
Ms. Zhang Yuanyuan, deputy director of OneHealth Research Center at Sun Yat-sen University, shared the shock and inspiration that Dr. Griffin’s insight gave her, believing that it finally made her understand that the whole task of process philosophy involves “combining moral, aesthetic, and religious intuition with the universal forces of science to form a coherent worldview.”
Dr. Wang Junfeng, assistant researcher of Wenzhou Academy of Social Sciences, shared his exquisite relationship with process philosophy and Dr. Griffin. “I deeply felt that the process thinkers were deep in wisdom, bright but not dazzling, rich in life wisdom, and able to integrate philosophy with life, and find extraordinary in ordinary.”
Dr. Wang believes that through reading the works of scholars such as Whitehead, Hartshorne, Cobb, and Griffin, he has gained a clearer understanding of his ongoing contemplation of nature, especially his more profound understanding and disillusionment of the concern for nature and the relationship between humans and nature. He hopes that the “Hemei Eco-Garden” he and his wife Zheng Jinrong are building in Fujian Province can continue Griffin’s spirit.
Ms. Yu Siqun, an ecological writer and postmodern farmer, shared the philosophy of life taught to her by Dr. Griffin, saying that he fought all his life and was both a thinker and a doer. Griffin is strong, lucky, and intelligent, and he makes those around him feel full of hope. He was an organic process thinker, and, more importantly, he applied this philosophy throughout his life.
Inter-religious prayers were offered by Zeng Qinghua, Secretary-General of IPDC, Zhang Guanglin, deputy secretary-general of China Islamic Association, Professor Wang Kun from Zhejiang Normal University, and Dr. Zheng Wei from the University of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, along with a recording of Great Compassion Mantra by Choying Drolma from the Tibetan tradition was played in the ceremony, on behalf of Christianity, Islam, Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism respectively.
Mr. Zhang Guanglin believes that Dr. Griffin, as one of the most important and influential thinkers of our time, his constructive postmodern thoughts, ideas, and actions will be the most precious treasure and gift to our world. His constructive postmodern ideas will continue to inspire and influence the new generation of Chinese scholars to explore the pathway to Chinese-style modernization and help build a green, harmonious and sustainable China.
Professor Wangkun thinks that as an ecological philosopher of our time, Professor Griffin’s moral integrity is in line with the Chinese Confucian ideal personality of “establishing the heart for heaven and earth, establishing the destiny for the living people, continuing to learn from the past, and promoting peace for all ages.”
Dr. Wang Zhihe, Executive Director of the IPDC, made a concluding speech. Dr. Wang first thanked all the distinguished guests for coming. Wang said,
Dr. Griffin was my teacher and I was very proud of that. I learned a great deal from him, particularly three things. First, Dr. Griffin made us believe that there is another kind of people with compassion and courage. Their courage comes from their compassion. Second, an individual can achieve many great things, can shine a great light, and can influence and give warmth to many people. Third, Dr. Griffin once encouraged people to “Anticipate a Whiteheadian century”. At the Claremont Eco-Civilization Conference in 2015, he stressed again that “the 21st century will be a Whiteheadan century”. Since Whitehead’s philosophy is deeply ecological, the 21st century is Whitehead’s century, which means that the 21st century is the century of ecological civilization.
He hoped the participants would join hands in striving for the arrival of this new century. Dr. Griffin will always live in our hearts as “the Ecosopher of our time” and a precious friend of China.
The event received ripples of messages after its completion. Mr. Jin Zhenbao, scholar and practitioner of process philosophy shared his thoughts on Griffin’s life as being fully in line with his thoughts. “He gave his powerful voice on critical issues of our time as a public intellectual, indicating a full correspondence between his position in politics and culture, his philosophical opinions, and his conscience to promote the everlasting peaceful coexistence of mankind.”
Xinlin Song is an educator, writer, and program director at Yunhe Centre, a place-based learning center in China’s Sichuan Province. Her work focuses on forming cross-sector Glocal collaborations to create meaningful dialogues that ignite social change. At Yunhe Center, her work focuses on developing pedagogy and programs that engage locals and visitors with meaningful dialogues towards cultural appreciation, self-development and ecological restoration. Xinlin writes bilingually about regeneration and worldview change, pedagogy of indigenous ecological wisdom, and re-valuing the countryside for various publications within China and beyond. She works with various cultural institutions on developing exhibitions, publications and cultural programs, including the Guggenheim Museum, Museum of Chinese in America, Hethem Museum, Hongkong University Shanghai Centre. Beijing Design week, and Shenzhen/Hongkong Biennale.