Confucianism is reviving in China and spreading in America. The past and present interactions between the revived Confucianism and Daoism, Buddhism, Islam, and Christianity will likely shape the cultural and political developments in Chinese societies of mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, etc., and will have global implications in the globalizing world. In addition to the philosophical and theological articulations of Confucianism and other spiritual traditions, this volume includes empirical studies of and analytical reflections on the spiritual traditions in Chinese societies by historians, sociologists, and anthropologists. It is a collection of articles by the best minds in China and the West, and the top experts in multiple disciplines. Collectively, the volume provides an assessment of the present situation and points to the possibilities of future development of Confucianism and other spiritual traditions in modern China and beyond.
Jewish thought and culture and comparing it with our own, in particular, China’s mainstream culture, Confucianism. Finally, we hope to draw on this foundation of knowledge to enrich our own values.
Early Confucian society, which was agricultural, and ancient Jewish society, which was both nomadic and
Traditional Confucianism might be likened to a great tree, with various branches and trends of thought emerging from common roots. Continuing with this metaphor, Confucianism as a form of knowledge might be regarded as a main branch, and the resulting form of Confucianism constitutes the main body of Chinese learning. Due to modern society’s transformation, Confucianism as a form of knowledge has begun to disappear and the form of Confucianism which has its own discourse system and problem consciousness has become a disconnected tradition and an object of study of all the branches of learning in modern times. It is important for the present-day development of Confucianism that we break the rigescent modern academic system, propagate Confucianism as a form of knowledge, and rebuild the Confucian form of knowledge.
Confucianism can be analyzed at three levels of ideas: life as existence (Sein) itself; the Confucian metaphysics about metaphysical beings; and the Confucian doctrines about tangible existences. In the eyes of Confucians, life itself is displayed as the feeling of benevolence in the first place. To reconstruct Confucianism is to return to life and perceive it as a fundamental source. That means to historically return to the original Confucianism during and even before the Axial Period, in essence it is to simultaneously return to our immediate life itself, and then on this basis to reconstruct both Confucian metaphysics and Confucian doctrines about tangible existences.
To counter the tendency of making Confucianism “localized” and thereby turning Confucianism research into research of local social history, the author criticizes this tendency and thinks it is unilateral to emphasize or stress the importance of a small unit’s locality, but ignore the oneness of the distribution of Confucianism and the universality of Confucian thought. The thesis emphasizes that the main schools of Confucianism in the Song and Ming Dynasties are all not local ones and cannot be reduced to reflections of some local need and social structure. The author points out that we need to self-examine the following phenomena: aggrandizing the function of local social structure to culture and thought, coming down academic schools to reflections of local social benefits, opposing this kind of research to the research of thought itself, thus rejecting philosophical research and analysis of thought itself.
The Confucian school emphasizes family value, moral persuasions, and personal relations. Under Confucianism, there is a free-rider issue in the provision of efforts. Since national officials are chosen through personal relations, they may not be the most capable. The Legalist school emphasizes the usage of incentives and formal institutions. Under the Legalism, the ruler provides strong incentives to local officials which may lead to side effects because some activities are noncontractible. The cold-blood image of the Legalism may alien citizens. By exploiting the paternalistic relationship between the ruler and the ruled under Confucianism and the strength of institution-building under the Legalism, the ruler may benefit from a combination of Confucianism approach and the Legalism approach as the national strategy of governance. As each strategy has its pros and cons, which strategy of is optimal depends on factors such as the minimum enforceable level of public service and the level of institution building costs.
Mou Zongsan incorrectly uses Kant’s practical reason to interpret Confucianism. The saying that “what is it that we have in common in our minds? It is the li 理 (principles) and the yi 义 (righteousness)” reveals how Mencius explains the origin of li and yi through a theory of common sense. In “the li and the yi please our minds, just as the flesh of beef and mutton and pork please our mouths,” “please” is used twice, proving aesthetic judgment is necessary to understanding Mencius. An analysis of Zhu Xi and Wang Yangming’s ideas will show that Confucianism should be interpreted by appealing to aesthetic judgment, and a discussion of Kant’s theory of judgment and Gadamer’s critique of Kant’s theory will support the same point. The conclusion is that Chinese moral philosophy should be interpreted through aesthetic judgment.
In a society dominated by Confucian ethics, a spirit of Confucian public morality can be seen in the Confucian debate over publicness and privateness, but it is usually activated in circumstances of large ethical crisis. Confucian theory mainly uses ethical relationships to create self and social identities, causing problems of identification in the public life and hindering the expression of moral feelings and actions, thus revealing a weakness in public morality. This is a space that Confucianism has not yet been able to cover, and also where it has room for growth.
The True Meaning of the Lord of Heaven (Tianzhu Shiyi 天主實義) is a Chinese text of the 17th century written by the Italian sinologist and missionary Matteo Ricci. It contains, among other topics, a discussion between a Confucian scholar and a Christian about the motivation to act. For Confucianism a good action should be performed for its own sake, without any thought of future reward. For Christianity it seems that good actions are performed in order to go to Heaven. Ricci argues that human actions are complex. The ultimate motivation for goodness comes from a relation with God. The Confucian scholar claims that actually not all actions need a motive. Sometimes things “just happen.” Also, a good tradition can move people to behave properly. Dealing with topics such as soul, eternal life, causes, descendants, tradition, happiness and proper behavior, this dialogue offers a great insight of the meeting of two great traditions: Confucianism and Christianity.
Confucianism as Religion tackles the perennially controversial question of whether Confucianism is a religion. After surveying the epistemological difficulties in both Chinese and Western scholarship in addressing the controversy over Confucian religiosity, Yong Chen convincingly reveals the sociopolitical and cultural stakes that are deeply entangled with the controversy. He brings the issue to the scrutiny of the latest theoretical constructions in religious studies and anthropology and, by defying Wilfred C. Smith’s claim that it is a question that the West has never been able to answer and China never been able to ask, proposes a holistic and contextual approach to the question about the religious status of Confucianism.