Thinking Through Confucian Modernity

A Study of Mou Zongsan's Moral Metaphysics


Mou Zongsan (1909-1995) was one of the major Chinese philosophers of the twentieth century, whose entire intellectual enterprise consisted of rethinking the relevance in the modern age of Chinese thought in general and Confucianism in particular. Although his seminal work is now a reference point everywhere in the Chinese world, research on the topic in English remains scarce. This book explores a pivotal dimension of Mou’s philosophy—that is, his project of reconstructing a moral metaphysics based largely on a dialogue between reinterpreted Chinese thought and Kantism. It provides the reader with direct access to Mou Zongsan’s thought by introducing translated excerpts of his work and thoroughly explores a number of his most paradigmatic concepts.
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Biographical Note

Sébastien Billioud, Ph.D. in Chinese studies (University Paris Diderot, 2004), is Associate Professor of Chinese Civilization at University Paris Diderot, Sorbonne Paris Cité. His research focuses on Confucianism in contemporary China with a cross-disciplinary approach in intellectual history and anthropology.

Review Quotes

"Sébastien Billioud...has authored a superb study of the critical concept of moral metaphysics in Mou's magesterial intercultural revival of Confucian philosophy...[ Thinking Through Confucian Modernity is] an accomplished philosophical examination of the mature work of a great modern Confucian philosopher."
John Berthrong, Boston University School of Theology, The Journal of Asian Studies Vol. 71, No. 4 (November 2012)

"Billioud’s volume succeeds in providing us with a deep analysis of Mou’s moral metaphysics in terms of its connections with Kantian transcendental philosophy and Heideggerian thinking on Being."
Wing-cheuk Chan, Brock University. Philosophy East & West Volume Vol. 63, No. 4 (October 2013)

Table of contents

Chapter 1. Setting the Ground for a True Autonomy of the Moral Subject
Chapter 2. Appropriating a Pivotal Concept: Intellectual Intuition
Chapter 3. Intellectual Intuition and Thing-in-Itself: Preserving the Possibility of a “Transcendent Metaphysics”
Chapter 4. Rethinking Fundamental Ontology
Chapter 5. Moral Emotions and “Inter-Affectation”
Chapter 6. Self-Cultivation


Students of and specialists in Chinese philosophy and intellectual history, Confucianism, comparative philosophy, and all those interested in the reception to Western philosophy in China.


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