David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 9 (2):137-149 (2010)
Employing the distinction between the authoritarian (based on coercion) and the authoritative (based on excellence), this study of the understanding of authority in the Analects argues against interpretations of Confucianism which cast Confucius himself as advocating authoritarianism. Passages with key notions such as shang 上 and xia 下; fu 服 and cong 從; quan 權 and wei 威, are analyzed to illuminate ideas of hierarchy, obedience, and the nature of authority itself in the text. The evidence pieced together reveals the Master to be authoritative rather than authoritarian; and the social order to which he aspired is one based on excellence rather than on coercion. The article then considers why teachings which present a model of authority as authoritative ended up as often identified with authoritarianism and concludes with some thoughts about how Confucianism might be rescued from authoritarian practice.
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