The religious character of the confucian tradition

Philosophy East and West 48 (1):80-107 (1998)
In modern scholarship, Confucianism has only with some difficulty been placed among the religious traditions of the world, being viewed as more a form of humanism than religion. The question is revisited here whether Confucianism can be described as a religion by employing a definition of religion that focuses on both the identification of an Absolute and the transformation of the individual toward the Absolute. Arguing that the religious basis for the tradition can be found in the identification of an Absolute, T'ien, Heaven, or T'ien-li, Principle of Heaven, this essay identifies sagehood as the transformative process that leads the individual toward the realization of its Absolute
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