A major controversy in the study of the "Analects" has been over the relation between two central concepts, ren (humanity, human excellence) and li (rites, rituals of propriety). Confucius seems to have said inconsistent things about this relation. Some passages appear to suggest that ren is more fundamental than li, while others seem to imply the contrary. It is therefore not surprising that there have been different interpretations and characterizations of this relation. Using the analogy of language grammar and mastery (...) of a language, it is proposed here that we should understand li as a cultural grammar and ren as the mastery of a culture. In this account, society cultivates its members through li toward the goal of ren, and persons of ren manifest their human excellence through their practice of li. (shrink)
_From Shamanism to Ritual Regulations and Humaneness_ offers an account of the origins and nature of a uniquely Chinese way of thinking that, carried through Confucian tradition, continues to define the character of Chinese culture and society.
Harmony is a concept essential to Confucianism and to the way of life of past and present people in East Asia. Integrating methods of textual exegesis, historical investigation, comparative analysis, and philosophical argumentation, this book presents a comprehensive treatment of the Confucian philosophy of harmony. The book traces the roots of the concept to antiquity, examines its subsequent development, and explicates its theoretical and practical significance for the contemporary world. It argues that, contrary to a common view in the West, (...) Confucian harmony is not mere agreement but has to be achieved and maintained with creative tension. Under the influence of a Weberian reading of Confucianism as "adjustment" to a world with an underlying fixed cosmic order, Confucian harmony has been systematically misinterpreted in the West as presupposing an invariable grand scheme of things that pre-exists in the world to which humanity has to conform. The book shows that Confucian harmony is a dynamic, generative process, which seeks to balance and reconcile differences and conflicts through creativity. Illuminating one of the most important concepts in Chinese philosophy and intellectual history, this book is of interest to students of Chinese studies, history and philosophy in general and eastern philosophy in particular. (shrink)
Li Da (1890–1966) was one of China’s most important Marxist intellectuals and a founding member of the Chinese Communist Party. He played a major role in the introduction of Marxist philosophy and theory to China and in its dissemination among Chinese revolutionaries. His works are now regarded in China as classics of Marxist philosophy, and he is numbered among the ten most influential Chinese intellectuals of this century. Yet, almost nothing has been written about Li Da in English.In this seminal (...) study, Knight analyzes Li Da’s contribution to the flowering of Marxist philosophy and theory in China, examining Li’s writings and placing them in the context of the Marxist tradition. Knight also explores Li Da’s philosophical relationship with Mao Zedong, who was heavily influenced by Li’s works. Through the lens of Li’s life and thought, this book provides a detailed assessment of the introduction and dissemination of Marxist philosophy and social theory in China. (shrink)
Li Zehou stands among the most influential Chinese philosophers in the post-Mao era. His notion of subjectality is of paramount importance for current developments in contemporary Chinese philosophy. It belongs to the central concepts in Li's theoretical framework, around which his entire philosophical system is constructed. With his elaboration of this concept, Li expanded the problem of the self in post-revolutionary modernism. The present article analyzes the theoretical bases of this concept, exposes its importance in the scope of contemporary Chinese (...) theory and shows why and how it represents a call for a new humanism. Through a multidimensional comparative perspective, the author also explains why the human subject, which is based upon Li's notion of subjectality, has the potential not only to transform modern alienation into a real “human condition,” that is, into spiritually fulfilled society of autonomous individuals but also to fill up the prevailing “vacuum of values.”. (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)
Li Zehou 李澤厚, one of the outstanding contemporary thinkers, coins the term “emotio-rational structure” for his ethical theory. Li emphasizes a balanced and integrated structure of emotion and reason, and the core of this structure is an innovative combination of Kantian rationalism and Confucian ethics. Li admires Immanuel Kant’s rational ontology of ethics, but criticizes his exclusion of human emotion and desire. Li advocates complementing Kantian rationalism with the Confucian ethics of emotion, which he calls “emotion as substance”. He believes (...) that such a balanced structure of emotion and reason will offer inspiration to a changing world... (shrink)