Crisis, Modernity, and the State: Reflections on Roy Tseng’s Confucian Liberalism

In: Comparative Political Theory
Loubna El Amine Department of Political Science, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, US

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What is “Confucian liberalism” a response to? In this essay, I elicit a political, rather than merely philosophical, crisis in the background of Roy Tseng’s argument in Confucian Liberalism: Mou Zongsan and Hegelian Liberalism. This crisis stems from Western imperialism vis-à-vis China starting in the late nineteenth century. It also takes the form of a challenge of legitimacy for the modern Chinese state. Identifying the relevant crisis in this way leads me to question the suitability of Hegel as a companion to Confucian liberalism. It also leads me to suggest the necessity of an institutional approach that gives due consideration to the imperial legacy and the infrastructural power of the state in China today.

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