This essay takes as its focus Japanese philosopher Nishida Kitar? (1870?1945) and his seminal first text, An Inquiry into the Good (or in Japanese zen no kenky?). Until now scholarship has taken for granted the predominantly Buddhist orientation of this text, centered around an analysis of the central concept of ?pure experience? (junsui keiken) as something Nishdia extrapolates from his early experience of Zen meditation. However, in this paper I will present an alternative and more accurate account of the origins (...) of this important work, a text often seen as marking the beginning of Modern Japanese philosophy. I will show that while Buddhism is an important part of Nishida's early intellectual development, there is ample biographical and textual evidence to suggest that zen no kenky? is at its core a text which attempts to solve key ethical problems via a modern interpretation of concepts drawn from the Confucian tradition. This analysis thus places the concept of ?Conduct? (koi), rather than ?pure experience?, at the center of the text, suggesting that ethics, rather than metaphysics, is the core theme of the book. (shrink)
Bai, Tongdong 白彤東, New Mission of an Old State: Classical Confucian Political Philosophy in a Contemporary and Comparative Context 舊邦新命: 古今中西參考下的古典儒家政治哲學 Content Type Journal Article DOI 10.1007/s11712-010-9183-0 Authors Ellen Y. Zhang, Department of Religion and Philosophy, Hong Kong Baptist University, Kowloon Tong, Kowloon, Hong Kong Journal Dao Online ISSN 1569-7274 Print ISSN 1540-3009 Journal Volume Volume 9 Journal Issue Volume 9, Number 4.
The question of xing has received much attention in the revival of Neo-Confucian philosophy (called Contemporary Neo-Confucianism) in present-day Taiwan, Hong Kong, and China and among scholars of Chinese philosophy in the United States. It also has much to do with a critical consciousness of both the difference and the affinity between the Chinese philosophy of man and morality and the contemporary Western philosophy of human existence and moral virtues. The study of this has great meaning for the development (...) of a global onto-ethics and an onto-ethics of the future of humankind. (shrink)
Liu, Xiaogan 劉笑敢 et. al., eds., Chinese Philosophy and Culture : Confucian Studies of Ming-Qing Period 中國哲學與文化: 明清儒學研究 Content Type Journal Article Pages 117-121 DOI 10.1007/s11712-010-9203-0 Authors Shaojin Chai, Department of Political Science, University of Notre Dame, 217 O’Shaughnessay Hall, Notre Dame, IN 46556, USA Journal Dao Online ISSN 1569-7274 Print ISSN 1540-3009 Journal Volume Volume 10 Journal Issue Volume 10, Number 1.
Two crucial topics in the philosophy of medicine are the philosophy of nature and philosophical anthropology. In this essay I engage the philosophy of nature by exploring Anne Fagot-Largeault's study of norms in nature as a way of articulating a Confucian philosophy of medicine. I defend the Confucian position as a moderate naturalism.
This article counters the popular misunderstanding that China lacks a conception of human rights in its philosophical heritage. The authors demonstrate that even divergent traditions such as Classical Confucianism and Mohism provide strong and pervasive antecedents for human rights ideology, and both have much to contribute to the contemporary Chinese articulation of human rights theory and practice. The first part of the article shows that traditional Confucian values have the capacity to produce a social environment in which rights outcomes (...) are realized, yet without recourse to the full legal mechanisms of Western claim-rights. The second part of the article reveals that Mohism offers several insights and motivations for contemporary human rights ideology. Thus, the authors substantiate that historic Chinese philosophy supports a meaningful framework for human rights, refuting the claim that human rights is alien to the Chinese way. (shrink)
Edification 教化 is one of the central concepts of Confucianism. The metaphysical basis of the Confucian edification is the “philosophical theory” in the sense of rational humanism rather than the “religious doctrine” in the sense of pure faith. Confucianism did not create a system of ceremony and propriety owned by Confucians only. The system of ceremony and propriety on which Confucians depend to carry out their social edification is that of “rites and music,” the common life style of ancient (...) China. After continual metaphysical explanation and elevation, the system of ceremony and propriety and that of rites and music have undergone a sort of ever-evolving historical fluctuation, and evinced a sort of openness and forgiveness comparable to that of any other religious form. Compared with typical religious practices, whose ceremonies and rituals that have their own special fixity and exclusivity, Confucian ceremonies and rituals are fundamentally different. The edification of Confucianism can be labeled as “edification in the sense of philosophy.” As a “philosophy”, Confucianism’s vision did not focus on cognition but on completion and realization. (shrink)
Zhong 中 is a very important philosophical concept in early Confucianism. Both the received ancient Confucian classics and the newly discovered ancient bamboo manuscripts tell us that adhering to the principle of zhong was an important charge that had been transmitted and inherited by early ancient Chinese political leaders from generation to generation. Confucius and his followers adopted the concept of zhong and further developed it into a sophisticated doctrine, which is usually called zhongdao 中道 (the Way of zhong) (...) or zhongyong 中庸. Being a polysemous word, zhong has several different but philosophically related meanings. However, for a long time, people usually understood zhong in the sense of only one of its meanings, and zhongdao or zhongyong has been commonly interpreted as “the doctrine of the mean.” My argument in this paper is that a synthetic interpretation, which includes all the semantic meanings of zhong is necessary in order to acquire a deep and well-rounded comprehension of the philosophical significance of the Way of zhong. The Way of zhong features a dialectal view of the relationship between heaven and human beings, mind and materials, subjective desire and the available objective conditions, self and others, centrality and diversity, and so on. The Way of zhong has become a widely applied philosophical methodology in Confucianism, as well as a political principle and a kind of personal moral merit in early Confucian doctrines. Today, it still has relevance in contemporary Chinese social and cultural contexts. (shrink)
The important feature of Dao as a philosophic category in early Confucian philosophy is its prominent practical and historical properties, which make it different from those western metaphysic categories. Confucianism emphasizes that the Dao can not be separated with the practice and the history of human being, thus the Tao should be explored in peoples’ social activities and history. They believe that the Tao only lives in the historical tradition and can only be demonstrated by the narrative of history. (...) The historical and practical properties of Dao incarnated the unity of epistemology and axiology, and integrated the value of both “Dao” and “De”. It also spots the conjunction between Confucianism and the historical materialism that persists on the standpoint of dialectic and practice. (shrink)
In this book, Bryan W. Van Norden examines early Confucianism as a form of virtue ethics and Mohism, an anti-Confucian movement, as a version of consequentialism. The philosophical methodology is analytic, in that the emphasis is on clear exegesis of the texts and a critical examination of the philosophical arguments proposed by each side. Van Norden shows that Confucianism, while similar to Aristotelianism in being a form of virtue ethics, offers different conceptions of “the good life,” the virtues, human (...) nature, and ethical cultivation. (shrink)
While Qian Mu intentionally avoided systematic philosophical arguments, his references to memory, language, and emotions, as expressed in a book he wrote in 1948, were suggestive of new interpretations of traditional Chinese, and especially Confucian, ideas such as human autonomy, mind, human nature, morality, immortality, and spirituality. The foremost contribution of Qian’s humanist synthesis rests in its articulation of the idea of the person. Across the context of memory, language, and emotions, the tiyong dynamics of mind and human nature (...) recreate, in modern terms, the traditional Chinese concept of the person who is individually unique and simultaneously interrelated. Avoiding the extreme polarities of individualism and collectivism, he stresses rather their coexistence. His synthesis explains to the Chinese people something about who they are, the meaning in life in the framework of their culture, and how their (revitalized) way of life is at its best in the most important area, that of human relations. (shrink)
Retrospect and prospect for contemporary Chinese thought -- Resolving the tension between tradition and modernity : reflections on the May Fourth cultural tide -- The May Fourth tide and modernity -- Radicalism in the cultural movement of the twentieth century -- Modern Chinese culture and the difficulties of Confucian learning -- Liang Shuming's early view of Oriental and Western culture -- The establishment and development of Feng Youlan's view of culture -- A reflection on the new school of principle (...) and thoughts on modernity -- Confucian thought and the world of modern East Asia -- Confucian ethics and China's modernisation -- East Asian tradition according to modernisation theory -- A sense of predicament and inter-dependency -- Liang Shuming and Max Weber on Chinese culture -- Values, authority, tradition and Chinese philosophy -- The difficulty of undertaking national studies research in the nineties : the problem of the national studies fever and research into traditional culture -- The value and status of traditional Chinese culture. (shrink)
In Part 1, I offer a "constructivist" interpretation of Xunzi's philosophy. On the constructivist view, there is no privileged description of the world. Concepts, categories, and norms as social constructs help us effectively manage our way through the world, rather than reveal or express univocal knowledge of it. In the opening chapter, I argue that dao should be understood as open ended and that Xunzi's worldview allows for a plurality of legitimate daos-at least at the theoretical level. Chapter Two discusses (...) the concepts of li (patterns) and lei (categories) and rejects the idea that true categories follow from a "god-like" understanding of rational patterns. Rather, patterns and categories are mutually entailing. That is, categories are not simply based on patterns, but are at the same time a precondition for patterning. Chapter Three addresses the related concept of ming (names, or name-concepts), and the idea of zhengming (the attunement of names). Attuning names is not matching them to any transcendent standard, but making them fitting given our nature, and circumstances. It is constructing and maintaining a socially responsible language. I also discuss here the complex manner in which early Confucians understood names to be developed and sanctioned. In Chapter Four I discuss ritual theory and argue that Xunzi offers a this-world centered religious sensibility. Far from a matter of slavishly following a code of behaviors set down perfectly by ancient sages, the performance of li (ritual propriety) requires interpretation in every application. Further, norms associated with li may evolve in response to changing needs and conditions. In the final chapter of Part 1, I turn to the issue of virtue and moral development, arguing that there is no fixed set of virtues. Part II shifts focus to the contemporary relevance of a constructivist way of thinking by using it to understand the cross-cultural dynamics taking place in international discourse on human rights. In short, interpreting the arguments of contemporary representatives of East-Asian countries through a constructivist lens reveals them to be more compelling than they might otherwise have seemed. (shrink)
This paper examines the Neo-Confucian hermeneutic debates surrounding the interpretation of Zhu Xi's poem ?The Boat Song of Wuyi's Nine Bends? (1185 AD). The question of whether to regard the poem as a poetic description of landscape or as a philosophical lesson in a poetic form led to serious philosophical discussions in China and Korea in the centuries that followed its publication. This paper investigates the philosophical commentaries on the poem produced during the Yuan and Ming dynasties, and the (...) contentious hermeneutic debates it sparked among Chos?n Neo-Confucians which fanned the flames of factional politics. On the whole, this paper aims to reveal the divergent and unsettling interpretive traditions within Neo-Confucianism, and argues that the common division of Neo-Confucian poetry into the categories of philosophical and non-philosophical does not aptly represent the highly nuanced discussion of the subject. (shrink)
Even the most casual observer of Chinese society is aware of the tremendous significance of Confucianism as a linchpin of both ancient and modern Chinese identity. Furthermore, the Confucian tradition has exercised enormous influence over the values and institutions of the other cultures of East Asia, an influence that continues to be important in the global Asian diaspora. If forecasters are correct in labeling the 21st century 'the Chinese century,' teachers and scholars of religious studies and theology will be (...) called upon to illuminate the history, character, and role of Confucianism as a religious tradition in Chinese and Chinese-influenced societies. The essays in this volume will address the specifically pedagogical challenges of introducing Confucian material to non-East Asian scholars and students. Informed by the latest scholarship as well as practical experience in the religious studies and theology classroom, the essays are attentive to the various settings within which religious material is taught and sensitive to the needs of both experts in Confucian studies and those with no background in Asian studies who are charged with teaching these traditions. The authors represent all the arenas of Confucian studies, from the ancient to the modern. Courses involving Confucius and Confucianism have proliferated across the disciplinary map of the modern university. This volume will be an invaluable resource for instructors not only in religious studies departments and theological schools, but also teachers of world philosophy, non-Western philosophy, Asian studies, and world history. (shrink)
Beginning in the Southern Sung, one Confucian sect gradually came to dominate literati culture and, by the Ming dynasty, was canonized as state orthodoxy. This book is a historical and textual critique of the process by which claims to exclusive possession of the truth came to serve power. The author analyzes the formation of the Confucian canon and its role in the civil service examinations, the enshrinement of worthies in the Confucian temple, and the emergence of the (...)Confucian anthology, activities that canonized one conception of the Confucian tradition as orthodox by selecting among persons who shaped the tradition. This lineage became 'the genealogy of the way'. The author draws on contemporary cultural and literary theory to help situate Confucian anthologies in ritual, institutional, sectarian, and ideological contexts. (shrink)
This volume explores Confucian views regarding the human body, health, virtue, suffering, suicide, euthanasia, `human drugs,' human experimentation, and justice in health care distribution. These views are rooted in Confucian metaphysical, cosmological, and moral convictions, which stand in contrast to modern Western liberal perspectives in a number of important ways. In the contemporary world, a wide variety of different moral traditions flourish; there is real moral diversity. Given this circumstance, difficult and even painful ethical conflicts often occur between (...) the East and the West with regard to the issues of life, birth, reproduction, and death. The essays in this volume analyze the ways in which Confucian bioethics can clarify important moral concepts, provide arguments, and offer ethical guidance. The volume should be of interest to both general readers coming afresh to the study of bioethics, ethics, and Confucianism, as well as for philosophers, ethicists, and other scholars already familiar with the subject. (shrink)
This paper explores the extent to which the Confucian concept of ren (humaneness) has application in ways that are comparable tocontemporary versions of environmental virtue ethics. I argue that the accounts of self-cultivation that are developed in major texts of the Confucian tradition have important direct implications for environmental thinking that even the Neo-Confucians do not seriously entertain.
Chung-yingâs project of onto-hermeneutics draws in order to shed light on the relations between ontology and epistemology in the hermeneutic act. In the process, not only will we be thinking with Cheng and some Western hermeneutic theorists, but we will also be thinking through history by examining the Confucian act of reading. To the extent that any hermeneutic exercise, in accordance with Chengâs construal, cannot merely be a disembodied act of theoretical knowing but is also moral effort that entails (...) personal cultivationâor, in Heideggerâs and Gadamerâs terms, Bildungâits espousal and its practice necessarily embody a larger conception of culture. In fact, precisely in terms of the intimate engagement with culture, Confucian insights, filtered through Chengâs onto-hermeneutic lenses, may have much to offer contemporary hermeneutics. (shrink)
From its beginnings, Confucianism has vibrantly taught that each person is able to find the Way individually in service to the community and the world. For over 2,600 years, Confucianism has sustained a continual process of transformation and growth. In this comprehensive new work, John Berthrong examines the vitality and expansion of the Confucian tradition throughout East Asia and into the entire modern world.Confucianism has been credited with being the dominant social and intellectual force shaping the enduring civilizations of (...) East Asia. If we are to grasp the history of East Asia, we must understand the role that Confucianism has played in the social and cultural formation of the entire region. Just as civilizations are ever-changing, there has been nothing timeless or static about Confucianism.Berthrong’s study is unique in its discussion of each of the historical and regional phases of the development of the Confucian Tao. All too often, Confucian studies have focused exclusively on the classical early period and the great thinkers of the later neo-Confucian revival in the Sung Ming dynasties. Berthrong’s work opens the reader’s eyes to the often neglected gifts of scholars of the Han, T’ang, and the modern periods, as well as to the vast contributions of Korea and Japan. The author concludes this revelatory study with an examination of the contemporary renewal of the Confucian Way in East Asia and its recent spread to the West. (shrink)
Mencius is known to history as the "other" great philosopher from China. In actuality, Mencius was highly influential as one of the greatest exponents of Confucian thought, and is credited with bringing Confucianism back from the brink of near extinction in China and cementing the Confucian tradition as the major societal and ethical school of philosophy in Chinese civilization. This book features some of the greatest teachings of Mencius, with each quote paired with a historical anecdote on the (...) opposite page. (shrink)
The scholarship of Confucianism in China is in the process of restoration. Its historical missions are two-fold. It should preserve Chinese national characters and promote China’s modernization. These objectives are partly in conflict with each other. To realize the former objective, it is necessary to stress a historical continuity and consistency, to re-examine and justify the preservation of classical Confucian ideas and values in order to provide spiritual support for Chinese cultural identity and social cohesion. As to the latter (...) objective, it is necessary to reinterpret some part of the classical ideas and values and link them with the modern values such as liberty, justice and democracy. This essay analyzes the position of three Confucianist scholars, Jiang Qing, Chen Ming and Kang Xiaoguang, to show the different balances between conservatism and reformers when their writings confront the challenges of modernization and globalization. (shrink)
Confucian moral philosophy doesn't seem to provide a theory of excuses. I explore an explanatory hypothesis to explain how excuse conditions might be built into the Confucian doctrine of rectifying names. In the process, I address the issue of the motivation for the theory. The hypothesis is that the theory provides not only excuse conditions, but also exception and conflict resolution roles for an essentially positive morality rooted in the traditional code of 禮 li/ritual, transmitted from the ancient (...) sage kings. The relatively fixed content of this text-like moral code required aggressive interpretive leeway to cope with the problems endemic in rule deontological and etiquette-like normative schemes. (shrink)
It is proposed here that the Confucian li, norms of appropriate behavior, be understood as part of the dynamic process of moral self-cultivation. Within this framework li are multidimensional, as they have different functions at different stages in the cultivation process. This novel interpretation refocuses the issue regarding the flexibility of li, a topic that is still being debated by scholars. The significance of this proposal is not restricted to a new understanding of li. Key features of the various (...) stages of moral development in Confucian thought are also articulated. This account presents the picture of a Confucian paradigmatic person as critically self-aware and ethically sensitive. (shrink)
This multidisciplinary volume includes philosophical and theological articulations of Confucianism and other spiritual traditions for the modern and globalizing world, and empirical studies of and analytical reflections on Confucianism and ...