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Authors: Sarah Flavel and Brad Hall


In this article we examine Classical Confucian political thinking through the lens of paternalism. We situate Confucianism amid contemporary models of paternalism to show that Confucianism can be understood as a soft form of paternalism regarding its method. Confucianism stresses cultivation of the people by moral exemplars to guide the people to act in ways that are in their own best interests. This is in contrast to use of law and punishment as a deterrent of unwanted behaviours of the people. We demonstrate that Confucian paternalism does not advocate for a static top-down structure of governance that is incapable of reform, underscoring its non-authoritarian ideal. We do this by stressing the vital upward momentum constituted in general cultivation of the wider population utilizing li (rituals). The picture that emerges from an examination of Confucian political thought through the lens of paternalism is what we name “exemplary paternalism.”

Open Access
In: Culture and Dialogue
Author: Guying Chen
Editors: David Jones and Sarah Flavel
Translator: Hans-Georg Moeller
In The Humanist Spirit of Daoism, Chen Guying presents a concise overview of his understanding of the meaning and significance of Daoist philosophy. Chen is a leading contemporary Chinese thinker and spokesperson for a new Daoist approach to existential and socio-political issues. He was born in mainland China in 1935, but after having resettled to Taiwan, he received his education there and was a student activist in the 1960s. He became famous in the Chinese-speaking world with his writings on Nietzsche, Laozi and Zhuangzi. At present he is a Professor at Peking University. This volume collects representative essays from the past 25 years which not only outline Chen’s interpretation of Daoism as a deeply humanist way of thinking and living, but also show how he employs this philosophy in a critique of totalitarianism and neo-imperialism.
Author: Guorong Yang
Translators: Paul J. D'Ambrosio and Sarah Flavel
In On Human Action and Practical Wisdom, Yang Guorong offers a description of his “concrete metaphysics.” This system seeks to overcome traditional metaphysical problems by providing a concrete basis - which serves as both the starting point and the final determining factor - for metaphysics. Yang gives a discussion of wisdom and practical action that begins in our everyday activities and social relationships, is extended to form universal principles, and finally refers back to actual situations for determining appropriateness.

Based on his unification of ontology, epistemology and axiology, Yang thus attempts to overcome the one-sided understanding of action in modern Western philosophy, targeting in particular the excessively linguistic, logical, and abstract focus found in the American analytic tradition.
In: The Humanist Spirit of Daoism
In: The Humanist Spirit of Daoism
In: The Humanist Spirit of Daoism
In: The Humanist Spirit of Daoism
In: The Humanist Spirit of Daoism
In: The Humanist Spirit of Daoism
In: The Humanist Spirit of Daoism