Neo-Confucianism is a philosophically sophisticated tradition weaving classical Confucianism together with themes from Buddhism and Daoism. It began in China around the eleventh century CE, played a leading role in East Asian cultures over the last millennium, and has had a profound influence on modern Chinese society. -/- Based on the latest scholarship but presented in accessible language, Neo-Confucianism: A Philosophical Introduction is organized around themes that are central in Neo-Confucian philosophy, including the structure of the cosmos, (...) human nature, ways of knowing, personal cultivation, and approaches to governance. The authors thus accomplish two things at once: they present the Neo-Confucians in their own, distinctive terms; and they enable contemporary readers to grasp what is at stake in the great Neo-Confucian debates. (shrink)
This article examines whether and to what extent Confucianism as a resilient Chinese cultural tradition can be used as a sound basis of business practice and management model for Chinese corporations in the twenty-first century. Using the core elements of Confucianism, the article constructs a notion of a Confucian Firm with its concepts of the moral person ( Junzi ), core human morality ( ren, yi, li ) and relationships ( guanxi ), as well as benign social structure (...) (harmony), articulated in corporate and organizational terms. The basic character of the Confucian Firm is described, and its philosophical and cultural foundation is critically assessed with respect to its moral legitimacy and relevant to today’s China. China’s recent Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) development is a high profile response to global business ethics concerns. Efforts have been made to emulate and develop good business practice fashioned in CSR norms and visions. The so-called “human-based” and “virtue-based” business practices rooted in local cultural heritage have been touted as a Chinese response to this problem. This investigation is particularly relevant in the context of the increasingly prominence of the Chinese corporations (China Inc.) in the wake of the rise of China as a global power. How relevant is Confucianism to the building of a modern Chinese corporation that is willing and able to practice reasonable norms of business ethics? The findings of this discussion, which include the organizational implications of the Confucian familial collectivism, have implications for other Chinese communities (Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore) where Confucian tradition is endorsed and practiced. (shrink)
Confucian scholars should satisfy two conditions insofar as they think their theories enable Confucianism to make contributions to liberal politics and social policy. The liberal accommodation condition stipulates that the theory in question should accommodate as many reasonable conceptions of the good and religious doctrines as possible while the intelligibility condition stipulates that the theory must have a recognizable Confucian character. By and large, Joseph Chan’s Confucian perfectionism is able to satisfy the above two conditions. However, contrary to Chan (...) and many other Confucian scholars, I argue that any active promotion of Confucianism will violate the liberal accommodation condition. I propose the “wide view of moderate perfectionism,” which enables Confucianism to shed light on a wide range of political and social issues without promoting Confucianism actively. Thus, I present a new approach to the long-standing question of how Confucianism may improve political and social development in a liberal society. (shrink)
Confucianism advocates the lofty moral ideal of humane love (ren ai ä»æ) and condemns immoral actions. Strangely enough, however, Mencius, a paradigmatic Confucian intellectual who believed that a true man cannot be corrupted by wealth, subdued by power, or affected by poverty (Tu 1989a: 15), highly commended such typically corrupt actions as bending the law for the benefit of relatives or appointing people by mere nepotism when he talked about Shun è in the text of the Mencius. In the (...) first four sections of this article, I will address the issue of how Confucianism encourages a special kind of corruption through its fundamentally consanguineous affection. Then, in the remaining sections, I will try to respond to some criticisms of my views by a few Chinese scholars. (shrink)
I propose that Confucianism incorporates a latent commitment to the closely related epistemic virtues of curiosity and inquisitiveness. Confucian praise of certain people, practices, and dispositions is only fully intelligible if these are seen as exercises and expressions of epistemic virtues, of which curiosity and inquisitiveness are the obvious candidates. My strategy is to take two core components of Confucian ethical and educational practice and argue that each presupposes a specific virtue. To have and to express a ‘love of (...) learning’ requires the virtue of curiosity, while the normative practice of good questioning requires exercise of the virtue of inquisitiveness. Taken together, people engaging in the foundational Confucian project of moral self-cultivation must desire and acquire a range of epistemic goods, a set of dispositions that manifest in the virtues of curiosity and inquisitiveness, possession of which is admirable and excellent. Such, at least, is the claim defend in this chapter, which is an exercise in cross-cultural virtue epistemology. (shrink)
In this article we focus on three key precepts shared by Confucianism and the African ethic of Ubuntu: the central value of community, the desirability of ethical partiality, and the idea that we tend to become morally better as we grow older. For each of these broad similarities, there are key differences underlying them, and we discuss those as well as speculate about the reasons for them. Our aim is not to take sides, but we do suggest ways that (...) Ubuntu and Confucianism might have something to learn from each other and perhaps come closer. We hope that our preliminary reflections can inspire further debate and thinking on a theme – dialogues between long-standing and large-scale non-Western traditions – that is bound to increase in importance as non-Western societies play a greater role in the global system and as the search continues for a 'global ethic'. (shrink)
One of the most high-profile debates in Chinese philosophy concerns the compatibility of human and individual rights with basic Confucian doctrines and practices. Defenders of the incompatibilist view argue that rights are inconsistent with Confucianism because rights are (necessarily) role-independent obligations and entitlements, whereas Confucians think that all obligations and entitlements are role-dependent. Two other arguments have to do with the practice of claiming one's own rights, holding (a) that claiming one's rights undercuts family-like community bonds and (b) that (...) giving everyone license to claim her own rights is incompatible with certain hierarchical social structures that Confucians value. In this essay, I show that these arguments are too crudely formulated to identify the real points of contention with rights compatibilism, and then develop versions of two of the arguments which, when properly qualified, pose a more serious challenge for those who think rights and a license to claim one's own rights are consistent with core Confucian views. (shrink)
Through the 1980s Confucian studies in the United States tended to present Confucianism as compatible with liberal democratic values. Since the 1990s, after the rise of China as a global power, Confucianism is increasingly defended as a political alternative to liberal and democratic values. This essay argues that Confucianism is not compatible with liberal democratic values, and that the rise of political Confucianism opposed to liberal democracy is a return to a more authentic Confucianism. Furthermore, (...) it is argued that the defense of this undemocratic and illiberal Confucianism in the West, notably by Stephen C. Angle and Daniel A. Bell, reflects and reveals the precarious state of democracy in our present historical moment. (shrink)
There exists a serious shortage of organs for transplantation in China, more so than in most Western countries. Confucianism has been commonly used as the cultural and ethical reason to explain the reluctance of Chinese and other East-Asian people to donate organs for medical purposes. It is asserted that the Confucian emphasis on xiao requires individuals to ensure body intactness at death. However, based on the original texts of classical Confucianism and other primary materials, we refute this popular (...) view. We base our position on the related Confucian norms of filial piety and ren, the tension between differentiated love and universal love, and belief in the goodness of human nature. In light of this, we argue that the Confucian ethical outlook actually calls for organ donation at an individual level, and supports an opt-out system at the level of social policy. Furthermore, because the popular view is based on a number of dominant but misleading modes of thinking about cultural differences, our revisionist account of Confucian moral duties regarding organ donation has implications for developing a more adequate transcultural and global bioethics. These will be discussed and expanded upon. (shrink)
Using a sample of 12,061 firm-year observations from the Chinese stock market for the period of 2001–2011 and geographic-proximity-based Confucianism variables, this study provides strong evidence that Confucianism is significantly negatively associated with minority shareholder expropriation, implying that Confucianism does mitigate agency conflicts between the controlling shareholder and minority shareholders. This finding suggests that Confucianism has important influence on business ethics, and thus can serve as an important ethical philosophy or social norm to mitigate the controlling (...) shareholder’s unethical expropriation behavior. Moreover, my findings reveal that the nature of the ultimate owner attenuates the negative association between Confucianism and minority shareholder expropriation, suggesting that Confucianism’s negative impact on minority shareholder expropriation is less pronounced for state-owned enterprises than for non-state-owned enterprises. The above results are robust to a variety of sensitivity tests and my findings are valid after controlling for the potential endogeneity between Confucianism and minority shareholder expropriation. (shrink)
This essay critically examines a suggestion proposed by some Confucianists that Confucianism and Care Ethics share striking similarities and that feminism in Confucian societies might take “a new form of Confucianism.” Aspects of Confucianism and Care Ethics that allegedly converge are examined, including the emphasis on human relationships, and it is argued that while these two perspectives share certain surface similarities, moral injunctions entailed by their respective ideals of ren and caring are not merely distinctive but in (...) fact incompatible. (shrink)
In this chapter the author defends the view that the major variants of Confucian ethics qualify as virtue ethics in the respects that matter most, which concern the focus, investigative priority, and explanatory priority of virtue over right action. The chapter also provides short summaries of the central Confucian virtues and then explains how different Confucians have understood the relationship between these and what some regard as the chief or most comprehensive virtue, ren (humaneness or benevolence). Finally, it explicates what (...) most Confucians take to be a requirement of all virtues, which the author calls “wholeheartedness,” and concludes by highlighting some neglected implications of the wholeheartedness requirement for ethics more generally. These include reasons for linking conceptions of virtue and human nature, for thinking that good character necessitates that individuals change how things seem to them, and for endorsing automatic as opposed to intensively deliberative judgments and decisions. (shrink)
Confucianism conceives of persons as being necessarily interdependent, defining personhood in terms of the various roles one embodies and that are established by the relationships basic to one's life. By way of contrast, the Western philosophical tradition has predominantly defined persons in terms of intrinsic characteristics not thought to depend on others. This more strictly and explicitly individualistic concept of personhood contrasts with the Confucian idea that one becomes a person because of others; where one is never a person (...) independently or in and of oneself but develops into one only in community. This article surveys some differences between Confucian and Western ideas of self and their connection to ethics mainly in light of the relational self of the Confucian Analects and Mencius . A Philosophy Compass article called Confucianism and Ethics in the Western Philosophical Tradition II: A Comparative Analysis of Personhood will follow, that examines how the more individualistic way of conceiving of personhood in the West has had moral and political implications that differ, and even conflict, with those of Confucianism. (shrink)
Are Confucian and Buddhist ethical views closer to Kantian, Consequentialist, or Virtue Ethical ones? And how can such comparisons shed light on the unique aspects of Confucian and Buddhist views? This essay (i) provides a historically grounded framework for distinguishing western views, (ii) identifies a series of questions that we can ask in order to clarify the philosophic accounts of ethical motivation embedded in the Buddhist and Confucian traditions, and (iii) then critiques Lee Ming-huei’s claim that Confucianism is closer (...) to Kantianism than virtue ethics and Charles Goodman’s claim that Buddhism is closer to Consequentialism than virtue ethics. (shrink)
Sungmoon Kim’s pragmatic Confucian democracy tries to provide a mediating position between the instrumental model and the intrinsic model of democracy. However, this model of Confucian democracy is problematic because it fails to justify the unique role Confucianism plays in accommodating democracy when it is one among many comprehensive doctrines in East Asia. To be truly pragmatic about democracy is to hold a pluralistic attitude toward how people will come to terms with it. This article aims to push the (...) pragmatic tendency further and propose an alternative model of democracy that has a multivariate structure, a neutral state, and an active public role for Confucianism. This multivariate model represents a more promising future for democracy in East Asia. (shrink)
"Confucianism" presents the history and salient tenets of Confucian thought, and discusses its viability, from both a social and a philosophical point of view, in the modern world. Despite most of the major Confucian texts having been translated into English, there remains a surprising lack of straightforward textbooks on Confucian philosophy in any Western language. Those that do exist are often oriented from the point of view of Western philosophy - or, worse, a peculiar school of thought within Western (...) philosophy - and advance correspondingly skewed interpretations of Confucianism. This book seeks to rectify this situation. It guides readers through the philosophies of the three major classical Confucians: Confucius, Mencius and Xunzi, and concludes with an overview of later Confucian revivals and the standing of Confucianism today. (shrink)
Some democratic theorists have argued that contemporary people should practice only a civility that recognizes others as equal persons, and eschew any form of deference to authority as a feudalistic cultural holdover that ought to be abandoned in the modern era. Against such views, this essay engages early Confucian views of ethics and society, including their analyses of different sorts of authority and status, in order to argue that, properly understood, deference is indeed a virtue of considerable importance for contemporary (...) democratic societies and the citizens who constitute them. (shrink)
In Public Reason Confucianism, Kim Sungmoon presents a perfectionist theory that is based on a partially comprehensive Confucian doctrine but is non-sectarian, since the doctrine is widely shared in East Asian societies. Despite its attractiveness, I argue that this project, unfortunately, fails because it is still vulnerable to the sectarian critique. The blurred distinction between partially and fully comprehensive doctrines will create a loophole problem. Sectarian laws and policies may gain legitimacy that they do not deserve. I further defend (...) political Confucianism, which is regarded by Kim as an inadequately intelligible form of Confucianism. Kim assumes a too narrow understanding of intelligibility. Although political Confucianism may not be politically intelligible, it is civically intelligible, i.e. it is culturally intelligibly different from other political theories in terms of its implications in citizens’ actions in civil society. In light of civic intelligibility, the distinctiveness of political Confucianism should not be underestimated. (shrink)
It is often supposed that Confucianism is opposed to the idea of equality insofar as the key ideals to which it is committed, such as meritocracy and li , are incompatible with equality. Sympathetic commentators typically defend Confucianism by saying that (a) the Confucian person is not a free-standing individual but a social being embedded in a social structure with different and unequal roles, and (b) social inequality has to be traded in for other values. This paper argues (...) that in advocating meritocracy, Confucianism does not abandon the idea of equality. Indeed, invoking Aristotle's account of equality in the Nicomachean Ethics , it can be argued that the unequal distribution of rights and benefits reflects one aspect of equality, namely the vertical aspect, or the unequal treatment of unequals. (shrink)
This study extends previous literature on the association between Confucianism and corporate decisions by examining Confucianism’s influence on board gender diversity. Using a sample of Chinese listed firms during the period of 2001–2011 and geographic-proximity-based Confucianism variables, I provide strong and consistent evidence to show that Confucianism is significantly negatively associated with board gender diversity, suggesting that the proportion of women directors in the boardroom is significantly lower for firms surrounded by strong Confucianism atmosphere than (...) for firms located in regions with weak Confucianism atmosphere. This finding also implies that Confucian philosophical system has important impacts on business ethics and women’s status in corporate governance. Moreover, GDP per capita, the proxy for economic development level in a province in which a firm is located, attenuates the negative association between Confucianism and board gender diversity. Above results are robust to different measures of Confucianism and board gender diversity and are still valid after controlling for the potential endogeneity between Confucianism and board gender diversity. (shrink)
The debate on whether Confucianism is a source of corruption or root of morality, which initiated about ten years ago in China and was mainly between Liu Qingping 劉清平 and Guo Qiyong 郭齊勇, entered a second stage when Deng Xiaomang 鄧曉芒 criticized Confucian ethics based on filial piety, and Guo Qiyong and (mainly) his (former) students persistently defended their points of view. This essay is a review of the main theme of the debate at this second stage.
This Philosophy Compass article continues the comparison between Confucian and mainstream Western views of personhood and their connection with ethics begun in Confucianism and Ethics in the Western Philosophical Tradition I: Fundamental Concepts , by focusing on the Western self conceived as an independent agent with moral and political rights. More specifically, the present article briefly accounts for how the more strictly and explicitly individualistic notion of self dominating Western philosophy has developed, leading up to a recent debate in (...) modern Western rights theory between Herbert Fingarette and Henry Rosemont, Jr., two contemporary Western philosophers who are both steeped in Confucian thought as well as moral and political philosophy. This discussion elucidates how Confucianism can be compared to, and even contrasted with some basic principles of modern Western rights theory and the more individualistic view of self they entail. In the end, a new view of personhood and "free will"? is offered that synthesizes insights from the Confucian treatment of persons as being essentially interdependent with the Western treatment of persons as being essentially independent. (shrink)
The past couple of decades have witnessed a remarkable burst of philosophical energy and talent devoted to virtue ethical approaches to Confucianism, including several books, articles, and even high-profile workshops and conferences that make connections between Confucianism and either virtue ethics as such or moral philosophers widely regarded as virtue ethicists. Those who do not work in the combination of Chinese philosophy and ethics may wonder what all of the fuss is about. Others may be more familiar with (...) the issues but have doubts about the fruitfulness of this line of inquiry. It is therefore worth asking whether a constructive engagement between Confucianism and virtue ethics is worth turning into a significant, multi-generational research agenda. Most answers to this question will fall somewhere between two poles. At one end is the view that the line of inquiry has run its course, if ever there were a course to run in the first place; at the opposite end is the view that we’re only just getting started. And then there is a wide range of more moderate views falling between these two positions. Far from having exhausted the potential of virtue ethical approaches to Confucianism, I think we are standing on a philosophical gold mine that we’ve only just begun to tap. In what follows I would like to explain briefly why I take this to be the case. (shrink)
A central issue in Chinese philosophy today is the relationship between Confucianism and democracy. While some political figures have argued that Confucian values justify non-democratic forms of government, many scholars have argued that Confucianism can provide justification for democracy, though this Confucian democracy will differ substantially from liberal democracy. These scholars believe it is important for Chinese culture to develop its own conception of democracy using Confucian values, drawn mainly from Kongzi (Confucius) and Mengzi (Mencius), as the basis. (...) This essay describes some obstacles to this form of Confucian democracy. It argues that considering the political philosophies of Kongzi and Mengzi in the context of their views on personal cultivation reveals that they oppose some of the central assumptions of democracy. They do not trust the public to make good decisions, and advocate government for the people, but not by the people. These philosophies alone cannot generate democracy. (shrink)
Wei-Bin Zhang offers an authoritative guide to the philosophy of Confucian regions, covering mainland China Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macao, Japan, South Korea, North Korea, Vietnam, and Singapore. All, except Singapore, employed Confucianism as the state ideology before the West came to East Asia. The differences and similarities between the variety of Confucian schools are examined. The author concludes that the philosophical and ethical principles of Confucianism will assist in the industrialization and democratization of the region.
Is the Confucian tradition compatible with the Western understanding of human rights? Are there fundamental human values, regardless of cultural differences, common to all peoples of all nations? At this critical point in Communist China's history, eighteen distinguished scholars address the role of Confucianism in dealing with questions of universal human rights.
In this highly original work, Mathew A. Foust breaks new ground in comparative studies through his exploration of the connections between Confucianism and the American Transcendentalist and Pragmatist movements. In his examination of a broad range of philosophers, including Confucius, Mencius, Xunzi, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Charles Peirce, William James, and Josiah Royce, Foust traces direct lines of influence from early translations of Confucian texts and brings to light conceptual affinities that have been previously overlooked. Combining resources (...) from both traditions, Confucianism and American Philosophy offers fresh insights into contemporary problems and exemplifies the potential of cross-cultural dialogue in an increasingly pluralistic world. (shrink)
In this article, I offer an abridged reconstruction of the foundational elements of Confucian moral commitments, which, I will argue, still provide the background moral substance for moral reflection in mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, and Korea. The essay presents implications of Confucianism for establishing an appropriate health care system and critically assesses the features of current health polices in mainland China, Hong Kong, and Singapore. The goal is to offer a family-oriented, non-individualist account of resource allocation that (...) takes family authority and responsibility seriously. (shrink)
This paper addresses the issue of ecological sustainability and the dilemma between instrumental rationality and protection of the environment through a discussion of food production. In Confucianism, all human activities, including consumption of food, are seen as inseparable from problems of value. While Confucianism stresses the importance of healthy food, it rejects viewing nature as only having instrumental value. The Confucian view of sustainability can be seen from three parts: Humans should follow the murmuring of their 'heart/mind' and (...) seek to restrict the use of natural resources as much as possible to ‘let every being manifest its mandate to the full’; Harmony with nature is a premise for sustaining humanity; and Finally, taking care of the fundamental needs of the people is a premise for ecological sustainability. (shrink)
This introduction to the special issue explains why political theorists should be interested in Confucianism and what we have to gain by considering Confucian learning in its broader historical and political contexts.
Confucianism is a kind of humanism. Confucian humanism presupposes, however, a divisive act that separates human and nonhuman. This paper shows that the split between the human and the nonhuman is central to Mencius' moral psychology, and it argues that Confucianism is an anthropological machine in the sense of the term used by Giorgio Agamben. I consider the main points of early Daoist critique of Confucian humanism. A comparative analysis of Herman Melville's novella 'Bartleby the Scrivener' reveals the (...) limitation of the moral will in Mencius. Finally, I refer to an incident that recently captured the imagination of Chinese netizens, and shows the contested influence of Confucian humanism in contemporary China. (shrink)
The aim of this essay is to introduce scholars to recent discussions of early Confucian ethics that intersect with contemporary moral psychology. Given the early Confucian tradition's intense focus on the cultivation of virtue, there are a number of ways in which early Confucian thinkers – as represented in the texts of the Analects, the Mencius, and the Xunzi – fruitfully engaged in a range of topics that are closely connected to live issues in moral psychology. Not only did they (...) anticipate some contemporary debates but explored them from a distinctively Confucian normative worldview, attending especially to the role of the family and ritual practice. This essay seeks to demonstrate that early Confucianism, by integrating a normative vision with empirically grounded observations of human behavior, offers resources for constructively exploring a number of ongoing questions in moral psychology. (shrink)
After surveying the epistemological difficulties in both Chinese and Western scholarship in addressing the controversy over Confucian religiosity, Yong Chen convincingly reveals the sociopolitical and cultural stakes that are deeply ...
This collection of essays explores the development of the New Confucianism movement during the 20th century and questions whether it is, in fact, a distinctly new intellectual movement or one that has been mostly retrospectively created. The questions that contributors to this book seek to answer about this neo-conservative philosophical movement include: “What has been the cross-fertilization between Chinese scholars in China and overseas made possible by the shared discourse of Confucianism?” “To what extent does this discourse transcend (...) geographical, political, cultural, and ideological divides?” “Why do so many Chinese intellectuals equate Confucianism with Chinese cultural identity?” and “Does the Confucian revival of the 1990s in China and Taiwan represent a genuine philosophical renaissance or a resurgence in interest based on political and cultural factors?”. (shrink)
This paper argues Confucianism is a compelling managerial ethic for several reasons: 1) Confucianism is compatible with accepted managerial practices. 2) It requires individuals and organizations to make a positive contribution to society. 3) Recognizes hierarchy as an important organizational principle and demands managerial moral leadership. 4) The Confucian "golden Rule" and virtues provide a moral basis for the hierarchical and cooperative relationships critical to organizational success. The paper applies Confucianism to the H. B. Fuller in Honduras: (...) Street Children and Substance Abuse case. (shrink)
This book contributes to both the internal debate in liberalism and the application of political liberalism to the process of democratization in East Asia. Beyond John Rawls’ original intention to limit the scope of political liberalism to only existing and well-ordered liberal democracies, political liberalism has the potential to inspire and contribute to democratic establishment and maintenance in East Asia. Specifically, the book has two main objectives. First, it will demonstrate that political liberalism offers the most promising vision for liberal (...) democracy, and it can be defended against contemporary perfectionist objections. Second, it will show that perfectionist approaches to political Confucianism suffer from practical and theoretical difficulties. Instead, an alternative model of democracy inspired by political liberalism will be explored in order to achieve a multivariate structure for citizens to come to terms with democracy in their own ways, to support a neutral state that ensures the establishment and stability of democracy, and to maintain an active public role for Confucianism to prevent it from being banished to the private sphere. This model represents a more promising future for democracy in East Asia. (shrink)
Critical thinking is currently much celebrated in the contemporary West and beyond, not least in higher education. Tertiary education students are generally expected to adopt a critical attitude in order to become responsible and constructive participants in the development of modern democratic society. Currently, the perceived desirability of critical thinking has even made it into a seemingly successful marketable commodity. A brief online search yields a vast number of books that are mostly presented as self-help manuals to enable readers to (...) enhance their critical abilities. But how should critical thinking be taught? Is it at all possible? Instead of attempting to provide a direct answer to this pressing question, this paper seeks inspiration in a culturally rather remote philosophy of education that hitherto has not been regarded as a stimulant for critical thinking, namely the ancient philosophy of Confucianism. The paper argues that not only are most if not all types of thinking regarded in the West as ‘critical’ also present in Confucianism, but also that the Confucian philosophy presides over a particular type which increasingly tends to be neglected in the contemporary West; a type that I call ‘transformative self-critical attitude’. Through a comparison with the well-known Teaching Perspectives Inventory in higher education, the transformative self-critical attitude is used to elucidate some further aspects of the Confucian philosophy of education that may offer valuable insights to contemporary educators. (shrink)