Some issues in chinese philosophy of religion

Philosophy Compass 3 (3):551–569 (2008)
Abstract
Chinese philosophy of religion is a less discussed and less clearly formed area in the study of Chinese philosophy. It is true that there is virtually no discussion in Chinese philosophy about rationality or justification of religious beliefs comparable to the discussion of the same issues in Western philosophy of religion. The inquiry about rationality and justification of religious beliefs has shaped Western philosophy of religion. However, the scope of philosophy of religion in the Western context has been widened since Hume and Kant. When the West began to be exposed to non-Western religions, philosophical reflection on non-Western religions is also brought into the scope of philosophy of Religion. We can expect that the concept of religion will become much broader, the scope of philosophy of religion will expand and new issues, especially, issues concerning specific and non-Western religions, will be framed. When we look at philosophy of religion in a broad sense, the field of Chinese philosophy of religion begins to emerge. In this survey paper, I will focus on several issues which, in a broad sense of philosophy of religion, can be construed as the issues of Chinese philosophy of religion. One of the issues is about the religiosity of Confucianism. The second issue is about the concept of Tian. The third is the issue regarding the origin and nature of Chinese state religion and its characteristics which also have caught the attention of scholars, especially, in China. Is Confucianism a religion? How should we construe the religiosity of Confucianism if it does have a religious dimension? Is Tian a theological term? How does Tian differ from Western God? Is the sacrifice to Tian religious and a form of monotheism? What is the nature of state religion in traditional China? What is the relation between the state religion and Confucianism in traditional China? The debates on the issues addressing these questions will be introduced and discussed in this paper.
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