The earliest Analects yet discovered, this work provides us with a new perspective on the central canonical text that has defined Chinese culture--and clearly illuminates the spirit and values of Confucius.
Composed more than 2,000 years ago during a turbulent period of Chinese history, the Dao de jing set forth an alternative vision of reality in a world torn apart by violence and betrayal. Daoism, as this subtle but enduring philosophy came to be known, offers a comprehensive view of experience grounded in a full understanding of the wonders hidden in the ordinary. Now in this luminous new translation, based on the recently discovered ancient bamboo scrolls, China scholars Roger T. Ames (...) and David L. Hall bring the timeless wisdom of the Dao de jing into our contemporary world. Though attributed to Laozi, “the Old Master,” the Dao de jing is, in fact, of unknown authorship and may well have originated in an oral tradition four hundred years before the time of Christ. Eschewing philosophical dogma, the Dao de jing set forth a series of maxims that outlined a new perspective on reality and invited readers to embark on a regimen of self-cultivation. In the Daoist world view, each particular element in our experience sends out an endless series of ripples throughout the cosmos. The unstated goal of the Dao de jing is self-transformation–the attainment of personal excellence that flows from the world and back into it. Responding to the teachings of Confucius, the Dao de jing revitalizes moral behavior by recommending a spontaneity made possible by the cultivated “habits” of the individual. In this elegant volume, Ames and Hall feature the original Chinese texts of the Dao de jing and translate them into crisp, chiseled English that reads like poetry. Each of the eighty-one brief chapters is followed by clear, thought-provoking commentary exploring the layers of meaning in the text. The book’s extensive introduction is a model of accessible scholarship in which Ames and Hall consider the origin of the text, place the emergence of Daoist philosophy in its historical and political context, and outline its central tenets. The Dao de jing is a work of timeless wisdom and beauty, as vital today as it was in ancient China. This new version will stand as both a compelling introduction to the complexities of Daoist thought and as the classic modern English translation. (shrink)
In his new book, Confucian Perfectionism: A Political Philosophy for Modern Times, Joseph Chan observes that Confucianism from its inception has suffered from a gap between its lofty aspirations and its historical reality—that is, there has been a severe discrepancy between its strong and resilient regulative ideals and a persistent pattern of traditionally weak social and governmental institutions and their practices. To overcome this historical disparity, Chan argues that contemporary Confucians should draw upon Western liberal institutions to the extent that (...) they can provide effective measures of governance. At the same time, these modern democratic resources should be modified in such a way... (shrink)
However much the Catholic Church may wish to free the peoples of the world from the excessive atheistic rationalism of the Englihtenment that has pitted science against religion, it is still in most other ways solidly on the side of modernity.Centesimus Annus endorses aform of democracy, akind of capitalism, asort of technological development, all of which are strongly undergirded by a resolute belief in human beings as rights-bearing individuals possessed of individual autonomy and a legitimate appetite for private property. The (...) themes of liberal democracy, capitalist free enterprise, and the proliferation of rational technologies form the common focus of both the Enlightenment and Anti-Enlightenment sensibilities.From a Chinese perspective, these culturally alien themes are viewed with suspicion. The Chinese are increasingly troubled by the corrosive effects upon their culture and social fabric associated with and embedded in the modernizing impulse. But, for a variety of reasons, it certainly seems that China will have little choice but to accommodate modernity in some sense, whatever the risks. The serious question is: Will China remainChinese under the conditions of modernization? (shrink)
The problems of environmental ethics are so basic that the exploration of an alternative metaphysics or attendant ethical theory is not a sufficiently radical solution. In fact, the assumptions entailed in adefinition of systematic philosophy that gives us a tradition of metaphysics might themselves be the source of the current crisis. We might need to revision the responsibilities of the philosopher and think in terms of the artist rather than the “scientific of first principles.” Taoism proceeds from art rather than (...) science, and produces an ars contextualis: generalizations drawn from human experience in the most basic processes of making aperson, making a community and making a world. This idea of an “aesthetic cosmology” is one basis for redefining the nature of the relatedness that obtains between particular and world-between tao and te. (shrink)
Discussing the history of universal human rights and Confucian values, Ames asserts that a growing dialogue between China and the United States would benefit China in terms of political and individual rights and the United States in terms of a greater sense of civic virtue.
This special issue of Philosophy East and West is dedicated to the inaugural meeting of the World Consortium for Research in Confucian Cultures, convened at the University of Hawai‘i and the East-West Center, October 8-12, 2014, on the theme “Confucian Values in a Changing World Cultural Order,” to explore the contributions of Confucian thought to world culture. The conference brought together leading scholars from partner institutions around the world to explore critically the meaning and value of Confucian culture in the (...) twenty-first century. The purpose of this initial meeting was to address the questions “What is the contemporary form of ‘Confucian’ culture?” “What are its historical failings and limitations?”... (shrink)