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Xie Wenyu

The model of universal values and civilizational transformation, on the one hand, and the model of core values and self awareness, on the other, represent two fundamentally opposing paradigms of dialogue among civilizations. In practice, the former represents an attempt to present the core values of Western civilization as universal values and to demand that non-Western civilizations assimilate to these so-called universal values. Thus the promotion of universal values runs the risk of exacerbating intercivilizational conflict and preventing non-Western civilizations from achieving a deep understanding of the core values of their cultures, even concealing the shortcomings of their own value systems. The paradigm of core values and self awareness, by contrast, emphasizes the importance of retaining innate values and ethics, allowing civilizations to evaluate and update their own value systems as needed. We would therefore do well to adopt core values and self-awareness as the dominant model for dialogue among civilizations.

Yao Xinzhong

Drawing on important theories on tradition and modernization that developed in the past few decades, this article is intended to argue against two extreme views concerning tradition and modernity, one propagating that modernization intrinsically precludes tradition and the other claiming that, to uphold tradition, we must reject modernity. Applying the “circular model” of tradition and modernity and the paradigm of “long tradition,” we contend that tradition and modernity comprise and supplement each other and that, together, they form a continuum in the process of modernization, in contrast to the widespread view that modernization breaks away from tradition. We further examine critically various proposals on the usefulness of tradition for modern life and on the value of Confucian ethics for modernization in China. By arguing that tradition must not be separated from modernity and must be seen as part of modernization, this article concludes that only by including tradition will modernization be sustainable and that Confucian ethics can play an important role in reshaping the moral landscape of China in the rapidly modernized and globalized age.

David Lyle Jeffrey

The Golden Rule is the ethical point most frequently compared in Jesus and Confucius;1 in each case, what is recommended is preconsideration of one’s own actions toward other people in the light of an imaginative projection of how it would be if the roles were reversed. The formulations in both look substantively identical.2 Yet the positive formulation of Jesus and the negative formulation of Confucius actually shape the substance and import of the precept in distinctive ways. Moreover, there may be a deeper level at which, while they are certainly not contradictory, these two formulations are expressions of an important register of ontological difference. Engaged thoughtfully, they nonetheless afford to ethical modeling an opportunity for “harmony in diversity,” complementarity rather than mere equivalence. I argue here that the two traditions can be mutually enhancing, each through knowledge of and sympathy for the other.

Tan Mingran

China’s rise has brought about various propositions about its role in the future global order. Based on a dozen influential scholars’ works, this essay first summarizes the supposed economic, political, and cultural challenges China will pose for America and then analyzes their sustainability. Like Martin Jacques, it insists that China will not be able to catch up with America using a resource-intensive model. And China cannot expand using this model through technological upgrades either, for, as a power-oriented culture, China cannot train disinterested scientists to be truly engaged in technological upgrades. Nevertheless, China has alarmed the West as it seeks a way to deal with its rise. My position is that, as China and America become more economically interdependent, the best way is to achieve mutual benefit through peaceful dialogue and establish a world culture that integrates Chinese tradition and American democracy, for maintaining American universalism and containing China by preserving u.s. military superiority are unsustainable.

Yang Shen

How do generations of Chinese remain connected across history? How do the anthropological studies of religion help us to reconceptualize the realm of sociality and historicity? This paper argues that reading the classics is a ritual to bring together many heterogeneous traditions in a subjunctive historical community. In the Chinese context, reading is first done aloud in the presence of other people, in what can be broadly envisioned as a teacher-student relationship. Reading as such is rhythmic, public, and historical, by which both the deceased and the yet-to-be-born are brought together by readers’ embodied acceptance of “sages.” Thus “traditions” in China could be discussed more in terms of orthopraxy than orthodoxy. This perspective of reading suggests one is capable of understanding by “doing” rather than by “thinking” alone; and reading activities serve not only to regenerate but also to create new relationships among and between contemporaries and their historical relatives.

Andrew H. Plaks

This paper considers a number of problematic issues underlying the seemingly unassailable truth of moral philosophy expressed in the “Golden Rule” in a variety of cultural spheres. These issues include the place of this teaching within its given religious or philosophical context, the defense of this principle as an inviolable tenet of revealed dogma or as a piece of utilitarian advice for the regulation of social life, the manner in which the precise rhetorical structure of a given formulation reflects the specific intellectual underpinnings of its cultural milieu, claims of universal validity as a statement of moral truth for all men and all time or as a culture-specific value understood to apply exclusively within a particular religious community, and modes of commentarial expansion by scriptural exegetes and textual scholiasts seeking to ground this teaching within the logic of philosophical or theological discourse. After outlining several points of uncertainty that emerge in the context of transferring the ideal of human empathy to the messy reality of concrete existence, we then turn to a number of attempts by leading commentators in the Confucian, rabbinic, and other scholastic traditions to grapple with these contradictions and to reconcile them within the framework of their respective value systems.

Richard Wolin

The economic opening up of China has paved the way for a renaissance of thought and scholarship, and Confucianism, while still not considered the “national religion,” has regained its place as the heart of Chinese humanities and academic debate. It has even transcended the academic arena and has become a social phenomenon. But to what extent is this resurgence a natural response to a changing society, the response of a populace that is possibly growing averse to looking toward the West for answers, and to what extent is it politically driven? When put in its proper historical and cultural context, we can see that this revival of Confucian thought and of Confucius as a national idol is very much a tool wielded by the government to promote its own goals, namely, to foster a stronger sense of national identity, unity, and obedience under the name of harmony. Now that China’s modernization has become a fact, many questions remain regarding how its government and its society will reconcile modernization and Westernization with its rich Confucian heritage. This paper aims to elucidate some of these questions.

The Jesuit Reading of Confucius

The First Complete Translation of the Lunyu (1687) Published in the West


Thierry Meynard

The very name of Confucius is a constant reminder that the “foremost sage” in China was first known in the West through Latin works. The most influential of these was the Confucius Sinarum Philosophus (Confucius, the Philosopher of China), published in Paris in 1687. For more than two hundred years, Western intellectuals like Leibniz and Voltaire read and meditated on the sayings of Confucius from this Latin version.
Thierry Meynard examines the intellectual background of the Jesuits in China and their thought processes in coming to understand the Confucian tradition. He presents a trilingual edition of the Lunyu, including the Chinese text, the Latin translation of the Lunyu and its commentaries, and their rendition in modern English, with notes.

Sino-Theology and the Philosophy of History

A Collection of Essays by Liu Xiaofeng

Liu Xiaofeng

Edited by Leopold Leeb

Since his controversial Delivering and Dallying (published in 1988), Liu Xiaofeng has been considered the most influential among contemporary Chinese intellectuals interested in Christianity. Now for the first time this collection of Liu's essays, translated and commented by Prof. Leopold Leeb, enables the non-Chinese reader to get a comprehensive understanding of the ideas of this inspiring and erudite scholar.
Liu Xiaofeng's Sino-Theology and the Philosophy of History, together with the other essays in this collection, provide a panoramic view of the situation of Christian studies in the Chinese context today. In his introduction, Leopold Leeb also presents several other scholars who have been of crucial importance in the dialogue between Chinese culture and Christianity in the last three decades.