Pragmatism or corruption?
by Verena Nowotny
Stephen T. Asma, a philosophy professor in Chicago, wrote a very thoughtful article in the New York Times about intercultural (mis-)understandings between Americans and Chinese. He uses the example of the so-called "red envelopes" (hongbao), a Chinese tradition to give money not only on the occasion of family festivities but also to e.g. persuade a doctor to perform well when doing a surgery. Asma tackles the question whether this tradition that usually has a connotation of corruption in the Western world is an expression of pragmatism that once was popular in the U.S.