International Philosophical Quarterly 45 (4):433-445 (2005)
Despite contemporary Confucianism’s aspirations to be a world philosophy, there is an ethnocentric strand within the Confucian tradition, most glaringly exemplified in Han Yu’s attacks on Buddhism. This paper re-assesses Confucian ethnocentrism in the context of contrary practices that indicate a more pragmatic attitude among Confucians toward cross-cultural interactions. It argues that while the ethnocentric tendency serves as constant reminder of the need for vigilance, and recognition of the difficulties of crossing cultural boundaries, there are nevertheless resources within Confucianism for constructing an ethics of communication that is urgently needed to deal with the moral problems of cultural pluralism. The paper analyses the role of various common Confucian virtues such as ren(benevolence, co-humanity), yi (appropriateness), li (ritual), zhi (wisdom) in communication, and argues that a virtue of flexibility is implicit in Confucius’s insistence of bugu and could contribute significantly to a Confucian ethics of communicative virtues
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