Confucian political philosophy has recently emerged as a vibrant area of thought both in China and around the globe. This book provides an accessible introduction to the main perspectives and topics being debated today, and shows why Progressive Confucianism is a particularly promising approach. Students of political theory or contemporary politics will learn that far from being confined to a museum, contemporary Confucianism is both responding to current challenges and offering insights from which we can all learn. The Progressive Confucianism (...) defended here takes key ideas of the twentieth-century Confucian philosopher Mou Zongsan as its point of departure for exploring issues like political authority and legitimacy, the rule of law, human rights, civility, and social justice. The result is anti-authoritarian without abandoning the ideas of virtue and harmony; it preserves the key values Confucians find in ritual and hierarchy without giving in to oppression or domination. A central goal of the book is to present Progressive Confucianism in such a way as to make its insights manifest to non-Confucians, be they philosophers or simply citizens interested in the potential contributions of Chinese thinking to our emerging, shared world. (shrink)
What should we make of claims by members of other groups to have moralities different from our own? Human Rights in Chinese Thought gives an extended answer to this question in the first study of its kind. It integrates a full account of the development of Chinese rights discourse - reaching back to important, though neglected, origins of that discourse in 17th and 18th century Confucianism - with philosophical consideration of how various communities should respond to contemporary Chinese claims about (...) the uniqueness of their human rights concepts. The book elaborates a plausible kind of moral pluralism and demonstrates that Chinese ideas of human rights do indeed have distinctive characteristics, but it nonetheless argues for the importance and promise of cross-cultural moral engagement. (shrink)
Are there any coherent and defensible alternatives to liberal democracy? The author examines the possibility that a reformed democratic centralism-the principle around which China's current polity is officially organized-might be legitimate, according to both an inside and an outside perspective. The inside perspective builds on contemporary Chinese political theory; the outside perspective critically deploys Rawls's notion ofa "decent society " as its standard. Along the way, the author pays particular attention to the kinds and degree of pluralism a decent society (...) can countenance, and to the specific institutions in China that might enable the realization of a genuine and/or decent democratic centralism. The author argues that by considering both inside and outside perspectives, and the degrees to which they inter-penetrate and critically inform one another, we can engage in a global philosophy that neither pre-judges alternative political traditions nor falls prey to false conceptual barriers. (shrink)
The essay begins from Alan Gewirth's influential account of human rights, and specifically with his argument that the human right to political participation can only be fulfilled by competitive, liberal democracy. I show that his argument rests on empirical, rather than conceptual grounds, which opens the possibility that in China, alternative forms of participation may be legitimate or even superior. An examination of the theory and contemporary practice of 'democratic centralism' shows that while it does not now adequately support the (...) right to political participation, a reformed version could. I focus in particular on the roles that could be played by consultative institutions, looking both to recent Chinese proposals and to analogues currently existing in Japan. I conclude that a reformed democratic centralism may well be the objective toward which Chinese people should strive. (shrink)
An overview of Zhu Xi's moral psychology, with a special focus on the metaphysical underpinnings and the relations between heartmind (xin), emotions (qing), and nature (xing). The authors explain how Zhu uses his account to balance the demand for independent standards of assessment with his commitment to ethical norms that virtuous agents can embrace wholeheartedly.
In June of 2008, the International Society for Comparative Studies of Chinese and Western Philosophy (ISCWP) convened its third Constructive Engagement conference, on the theme of “Comparative Philosophy Methodology.” During the opening speeches, Prof. Dunhua ZHAO, Chair of the Philosophy Department at Peking University, challenged the conference’s participants to put forward a minimal definition of “comparative philosophy” and a statement of its methods. Based on the papers from the conference and the extensive discussion that ensued, during my closing reflections at (...) the end of the conference I offered a tentative synthesis of the conference’s conclusions. That summary has already been published on-line as part of the bi-annual ISCWP newsletter (Angle 2008). In this brief essay, I recapitulate the themes of my earlier summary and expand, in my own voice, on some of the key points. (shrink)
This issue of Contemporary Chinese Thought is devoted to recent mainland Chinese Confucian philosophizing, and especially to arguments about what “Mainland New Confucianism” signifies that were prompted by somewhat dismissive remarks about Mainland New Confucianism by the noted Taiwanese scholar Li Minghui in early 2015. This introduction begins by summarizing some of the challenges Confucianism has encountered in the twentieth century and also the rise of New Confucianism. It next turns to the emergence of Mainland New Confucianism as a distinct (...) and controversial phenomenon, arguing that after an initial stage, Mainland New Confucianism has now entered a somewhat more diverse and mature stage in which Jiang Qing plays less of an important role. After overviews of each of the essays included in this issue and summaries of some of key terms in which the debates are carried out, the introduction concludes by reflecting on the place of Confucianism within contemporary East Asia. (shrink)
The past decade has seen a vigorous discussion of human rights both within China and between China and other nations. It is easy to think of China as a latecomer to human rights discourse, in part because during most of the post-1949 period, rights and human rights were taboo subjects in the People's Republic. In fact, however, there was a rich and contested debate on rights throughout the first half of this century. By translating the most important pre-1949 essays on (...) rights and human rights, we aim to reintroduce themes from this forgotten discourse into contemporary debates. These essays show that the discussion of rights in China has long been motivated by indigenous concerns, rather than imposed from without, and it has been interpretive and critical, rather than passive and imitative. (shrink)
It is argued that "quanli" meant something different from the "rights" that it purports to translate in the writings of Liu Shipei (1884-1919). This does not mean that "quanli," as Liu used it, has no overlap with any of the meanings of "rights." But it can be argued that these overlaps are in a crucial sense coincidental, since the notion of "quanli" in Liu's major works represents a growth out of, rather than an imposition on, the Confucian tradition. In general, (...) to make sense of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Chinese political and ethical discourse, we must highlight the degree to which the concepts involved developed out of various strands of native tradition. (shrink)
On February 14, 2017, Joseph Chan and Stephen Angle convened a Roundtable on the Future of Confucian Political Philosophy at the University of Hong Kong. Eight invited speakers each offered thoughts on the main topic, followed by discussion among the panelists and responses to questions from the audience. This transcript has been reviewed and edited by the main participants. Much of the discussion revolves around the relations and tensions between Confucian political philosophy as academic theory-construction and the lived realities of (...) citizens in the modern world, especially in East Asia. How is Confucian theorizing connected to Confucian activism? Another central concern is democracy—as value or as institution, as necessary in pluralistic societies or as problematic monopolizer of political discourse. We also discuss translation, republicanism, meritocracy, the proposals of Jiang Qing and Daniel Bell, and the role of Confucianism in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and South Korea. (shrink)
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)
Varieties of Ethical Reflection brings together new cultural and religious perspectives—drawn from non-Western, primarily Asian, philosophical sources—to globalize the contemporary discussion of theoretical and applied ethics.
Confucius (551–479 BCE) is the Latinized name of Kong Qiu, best known in Chinese as Kongzi (Master Kong). Only partially successful in his public career, Confucius' private teaching inaugurated an era of reflectiveness and helped to define core elements of Chinese civilization. Subsequent generations of students built on his initial formulations to develop one of the world's great philosophical traditions, which in English we call “Confucianism”; various terms are used in Chinese, including Ru jia (the Scholars' School) and Dao xue (...) (the Learning of the Way). While later Confucian thinkers would develop elaborate frameworks of metaphysics, mind, and epistemology, Confucius' own teachings concentrated on ethics, politics, social values, and personal improvement. These teachings and the key terms in which they are phrased remained touchstones for the tradition ever after, and the Confucian tradition became absolutely central to what it meant to be Chinese. Given the scope of China and its civilization, it is no exaggeration to say that Confucius is among the most influential of humanity's thinkers. (shrink)
How important is Jiang Qing, whose extraordinary proposals for political change make up the core of the new book A Confucian Constitutional Order: How China’s Ancient Past Can Shape Its Political Future? In his Introduction to the volume, co-editor Daniel Bell maintains that Jiang’s views are “intensely controversial” and that conversations about political reform in China rarely fail to turn to Jiang’s proposals. At least in my experience, this is something of an exaggeration. Chinese political thinking today is highly pluralistic, (...) and for many participants Jiang is simply a curiosity—if indeed they are aware of him. Still, for three reasons Jiang is very much worth our attention. First, there is a vibrant and .. (shrink)
I approach this encounter with Joseph Chan’s important work on Confucian perfectionism from a fundamentally sympathetic standpoint. Most basically, I agree with two of his key premises. Confucianism is more than a rich historical tradition: it is a live strand of political theory, able to criticize and contribute to our lives today. But for modern Confucianism to be plausible and attractive, it must find a way to embrace the idea of limited government or constitutionalism in a deeper fashion than it (...) did historically. There are many other issues that Joseph covers in his book, and on many of these I am also in agreement with him. But my interest here is in the grounding of limited... (shrink)
A Reply to F an Ruiping Content Type Journal Article DOI 10.1007/s11712-010-9189-7 Authors Stephen C. Angle, Department of Philosophy, Wesleyan University, 350 High Street, Middletown, CT 06459, USA Journal Dao Online ISSN 1569-7274 Print ISSN 1540-3009.
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)