Neo-Confucianism and the Development of German Idealism

Journal of the History of Ideas 85 (2):257-287 (2024)
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Abstract

This article analyzes the influence of Chinese Neo-Confucianism on the development of German idealism. Information obtained by Leibniz from Jesuit missionaries included key concepts in Neo-Confucian philosophy that not only confirmed Leibniz’s belief in the universality of his organic image of the cosmos but also influenced Leibniz’s later writings. Such influence is also exhibited in Kant’s work, especially in his crucial noumenon-phenomenon distinction, as well as in Hegel’s phenomenology and philosophy of history. Recognition of these influences, unacknowledged by either Kant or Hegel, enhances our assessment of the import of both Neo-Confucianism and German idealism in international religio-philosophical discourse.

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