Both Confucian and Islamic traditions stand in fraught and internally contested relationships with democracy and human rights. It can easily appear that the two traditions are in analogous positions with respect to the values associated with modernity, but a central contention of this essay is that Islam and Confucianism are not analogous in this way. Positions taken by advocates of the traditions are often similar, but the reasoning used to justify these positions differs in crucial ways. Whether one approaches these (...) questions from an intra-traditional, cross-traditional, or multi-traditional perspective, the essay shows that there is great value in getting clear on the ways in which one’s textual “canon” may constrain one. In the end, we will see that while there are creative Islamic approaches to taking human rights seriously, the looser constraints under which Confucians operate today may make things easier for Confucian advocates of human rights and democracy. (shrink)
Confucius argued for the centrality of the superior man’s political duty to his fellow human beings and to the state, while Socrates suggested that the superior man (the philosopher) may have no such political duty. However, Confucius also suggested that one not enter or stay—let alone save—a troubled state, while Socrates stayed in an unjust state, apparently fulfilling his political duty to the state by accepting an unjust verdict. In this essay, I will try to show how Confucius could solve (...) these apparent contradictions. I will then examine the reasons Socrates directly and indirectly offers to resolve his seemingly conflicting positions in light of the discussion of the Confucian case. This article is a first step toward a deeper understanding of both Confucius and Socrates (Plato) by way of comparative studies, and of the general issue of a superior man’s political duty to a bad state. (shrink)
He, Huaihong 何懷宏, Hereditary Society 世襲社會. Beijing 北京: Peking University Press, 北京大學出版社, 2011, 246 pages; and Selection Society 選舉社會. Beijing 北京: Peking University Press, 北京大學出版社, 2011, 372 pages Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-6 DOI 10.1007/s11712-012-9272-3 Authors Zhen Cai, Department of Philosophy, East China Normal University, 500 Dong Chuan Rd, Minhang, Shanghai 200241, China Journal Dao Online ISSN 1569-7274 Print ISSN 1540-3009.
At first, the disciplined, proper, and moralistic Confucian might seem a far cry from the free, independent, and spontaneous individual of liberalism. However, Confucian self-discipline and ritual propriety are quite suitable for a democratic society. Liberal political theories privilege individual freedom, but there is little in them that deals with concrete ways in which this freedom can be exercised. Confucian theories of self-discipline and ritual propriety can fill this gap in liberal theory. Michel Foucault's investigations of Ancient Greek and Roman (...) technologies of the self show that self-cultivation, self-discipline, and ritual conduct are indispensable for the proper practice of freedom. Thus, Foucault provides us with a new perspective from which to investigate and affirm the democratic potential of Confucianism. (shrink)
Three claims are defended. (1) There is a conception of moral autonomy in Confucian ethics that to a degree can support toleration and freedom. However, (2) Confucian moral autonomy is different from personal autonomy, and the latter gives a stronger justification for civil and personal liberties than does the former. (3) The contemporary appeal of Confucianism would be strengthened by including personal autonomy, and this need not be seen as forsaking Confucian ethics but rather as an internal revision in response (...) to new social circumstances. From this inclusion emerges a new theory of liberties that recognizes the value of personal autonomy and the importance of the ethical good that liberties instrumentally serve to promote. (shrink)
This paper explores the subject-matter of the relationship between law and humanity, filling a significant lacuna in philosophy of law in the West today. Doing so, the paper starts with recasting the traditional Chinese conflict?in particular, the conflict between legalism and Confucianism?over law in a new light of the contemporary call for stopping crimes against humanity. It then explores Habermas? insight into and illusion of law. Finally, it examines the internal relationship between law and humanity, contending that law must always (...) treat humanity as a purpose, not as a tool to other ends, functioning to build a community of humanity; while a distinction exists between justice and benevolence, law must not be inhumane. (shrink)
Countering the present trend in the discourse on justice wherein human reason is perceived and marginalized as an embarrassment to justice and the trend to reject the concept of formal justice, this paper argues that there is formal justice and the essence of justice is setting things right and setting righteousness to stand straight. By this token, justice means the rule of reason, not the rule of power and desire, and the ethics of justice differs fundamentally from the ethics of (...) care/benevolence. The popular assumption that justice as the rule of reason is incompatible with the idea of justice as accommodating diversity is unjustified. The paper joins the present discourse on justice from a historical perspective. It examines the historical Confucian and neo-Confucian concept of justice in a way of its dialogues with other Western concepts of justice such as Plato's concept of justice. (shrink)
By investigating the link between the Confucian ideal of longevity and moral cultivation, I argue that Confucian moral cultivation is founded on the ideal of harmony, and, in this connection, it promotes a holistic, healthy life, of which longevity is an important component. My argument is internal to Confucianism, in the sense that it aims to show these concepts are coherently constructed within the Confucian philosophical framework; I do not go beyond the Confucian framework to prove its validity. Finally, I (...) show that if these Confucian beliefs are true, they have serious implications for public policy-making in contemporary societies. (shrink)
This article explores attitudes underscoring arguments I believe are located in Professor Armour's address in the present special issue. I first show how Armour's arguments are intertwined with a resolute belief in the existence of a unique form of knowledge, one particularly attuned to the work of humanities scholars, and then go on to argue this certainty is linked to an antecedent attitude, one of exceptionalism. Spelling out what I find to be troubling about this species of argument leads into (...) thoughts around how a world-humanities might unfold. Such a field must develop as a conscious attempt on the part of scholars to bring about dialogue around how humans can find an appropriate place in the natural world. (shrink)
This paper argues that a comparative study of the idea of a sense of justice in the work of John Rawls and the early Chinese philosopher Kongzi is mutually beneficial to our understanding of the thought of both figures. It also aims to provide an example of the relevance of moral psychology for basic questions in political philosophy. The paper offers an analysis of Rawls’s account of a sense of justice and its place within his theory of justice, focusing on (...) the features of this capacity and how it develops. It then provides an account of the sense of justice in Kongzi’s thought as it is seen in the Analects. Finally, it shows how examining the similarities and differences between the two accounts can deepen our understanding of both views, as well as our appreciation for the importance of understanding how a sense of justice develops. (shrink)
Confucians emphasizes and values morality, hence observers tended to regard moralities as politics so that the independent politics in the Confucian tradition has become implicit. Through a perusal of the Analects of Confucius, we can find that ethics and politics were separated from and independent of each other to Confucius, the primitive Confucian: he did not substitute ethics for politics.
A central issue in Chinese philosophy today is the relationship between Confucianism and democracy. While some political figures have argued that Confucian values justify non-democratic forms of government, many scholars have argued that Confucianism can provide justification for democracy, though this Confucian democracy will differ substantially from liberal democracy. These scholars believe it is important for Chinese culture to develop its own conception of democracy using Confucian values, drawn mainly from Kongzi (Confucius) and Mengzi (Mencius), as the basis. This essay (...) describes some obstacles to this form of Confucian democracy. It argues that considering the political philosophies of Kongzi and Mengzi in the context of their views on personal cultivation reveals that they oppose some of the central assumptions of democracy. They do not trust the public to make good decisions, and advocate government for the people, but not by the people. These philosophies alone cannot generate democracy. (shrink)
Within the literature, Daoist political philosophy has often been linked with anarchism. While some extended arguments have been offered in favor of this conclusion, I take this position to be tenuous and predicated on an assumption that coercive authority cannot be applied through wuwei. Focusing on the Laozi as the fundamental political text of classical Daoism, I lay out a general account of why one ought to be skeptical of classifying it as anarchistic. Keeping this skepticism in mind and recognizing (...) the importance of wuwei in arguments for the anarchist conclusion, I provide a non-anarchistic interpretation of wuwei as a political technique that is consistent with the text of the Laozi. Having presented a plausible alternative to the anarchist understanding of wuwei, I close my discussion with a brief sketch of a positive account of the political theory of the Laozi. (shrink)
: Puritanism and Confucianism have little in common in terms of their substantive teachings, but they do share an emphasis on bounded, authoritative, localized human arrangements, and this profoundly challenges the dominant presumptions of contemporary globalization. It is not enough to say that these worldviews are ‘‘communitarian’’ alternatives to globalism, for that defines away what needs to be explained. This article compares the ontology of certain elements of the Puritan and Confucian worldviews, and, by focusing on the role of both (...) authority and activity in these systems, assesses (with the assistance of Max Weber) the theories of harmony that each invoke. It concludes by identifying the distinct options that these two modes of human existence suggest for those who wish to defend the relevance of boundedness and authority, and thus the very possibility of a human-scaled politics, in today’s world. (shrink)