New confucianism and the semantics of individuality. A Luhmannian analysis

Asian Philosophy 14 (1):25 – 39 (2004)
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This article discusses New Confucian views on individuality and related philosophical problems. Special emphasis is given to the position of Tu Wei-Ming, a foremost living New Confucian thinker. It is pointed out that many New Confucian philosophers share a vision of a Confucian 'ideal' individuality or selfhood based on social integration - as opposed to a Western type of individuality sometimes portrayed as an individuality by isolation. These patterns of individuality are further examined on the basis of Niklas Luhmann's historical analysis of the semantics of individuality and his categories of 'individuality by inclusion' and 'individuality by exclusion'. Finally, some parallels and differences between Confucian and the Luhmannian viewpoints are pointed out, and a suggestion on how a Luhmannian perspective might contribute to reformulations of New Confucian thought is attempted



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Hans-Georg Moeller
University of Macau