I have recently completed a draft chapter, titled “Human Rights and Chinese Tradition,” for the Handbook on human rights in China being edited by Sarah Biddulph and Joshua Rosenzweig. Anyone interested can take a look; I have uploaded it to my personal archive here. Comments are very welcome!
I will give a lecture titled “Confucian Leadership Meets Confucian Democracy” at the Chinese University of Hong Kong on Monday, February 13, at 4:30pm. All are welcome, and details are here.
The tenth issue of 当代儒学 [Contemporary Confucianism] has been published; the full text is available here.
SUNY Press has just published a new book by Robert Cummings Neville: The Good Is One, Its Manifestations Many: Confucian Essays on Metaphysics, Morals, Rituals, Institutions, and Genders. More information is here. I will also post the book’s description and Table of Contents below.
Huang Yushun 黄玉顺 is one of the most prolific and creative Confucian thinkers in China today, and one of his books has been published in English translation: Voice From the East: The Chinese Theory of Justice (Paths International, 2016). More details are here.
For anyone who’ll be in Beijing on the 20th, you are welcome to my lecture that evening, the title of which is “从进步儒学的角度看社会压迫 [Social Oppression as Viewed by Progressive Confucianism”].” Details follow. Please feel free to contact me with any questions.
Columbia University Press has published a two-volume set titled Chinese History and Culture, providing a collection of eminent intellectual historian Ying-shih Yu’s essays, many dealing with philosophical topics, some appearing for the first time in English. Details for volume one (Sixth Century B.C.E. to Seventeenth Century) and volume two (Seventeenth Century Through Twentieth Century); I’ll copy the Tables of Contents below.
Fifty years ago, in the summer and fall of 1966, the People’s Daily was filled with stories lauding the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, which had been officially launched in May of that year. Today’s issue of People’s Daily includes a section titled “推动儒学融入现代社会 (Promoting the Introduction of Confucianism into Modern Society)” which includes three articles:
The APA has announced the winners of its 2016 Op-Ed Contest — see here — and among them is Bryan Van Norden, writing on “Confucius on Gay Marriage.” Congratulations, Bryan!
Peng Guoxiang, a leading scholar of Confucianism who is currently Qiu Shi Distinguished Professor of Chinese Philosophy, Intellectual History and Religions at Zhejiang University, has arrived at the Library of Congress John W. Kluge Center (in Washington DC) as the Kluge Chair in Countries and Cultures of the North. His tenure began in July and he will be in residence for six months. More details are here.
Sam Crane has a thought-provoking post titled “Confucian Rationality and Its Modern Fate” on his blog, reflecting on the question “What can Confucianism be in a modern context?” Recommended!
Ady Van den Stock, The Horizon of Modernity: Subjectivity and Social Structure in New Confucian Philosophy. Leiden: Brill, 2016.
See here for He Li’s review of Leading Schools of Thought in Contemporary China by Ma Licheng (translated by Jing L. Liu).
Prominent Confucian philosopher and scholar Liu Shuxian died last week in Taiwan at the age of 82.
Here’s a link to the announcement of his passing on the website of the Institute of Chinese Literature and Philosophy at Academia Sinica.
In a February 2016 blog post, Bin SONG makes a powerful case for switching from “Confucianism” to “Ruism.” This is not a brand-new idea; for instance, David Elstein has consistently used “Ruism,” including in his posts here at Warp, Weft, and Way, and Robert Eno advocated for such a practice in his 1990 book The Confucian Creation of Heaven (see here for relevant quote). Still, Bin Song raises some new arguments. To some degree, the things that Elstein, Eno, and Song are talking about may not be entirely the same: at least in the first instance, I take them to be referring to a modern philosophical movement, an ancient ritual-cum-philosophical movement, and a modern spiritual or religious movement of potential relevance in the contemporary US, respectively. (Admittedly, the application of these categories to Chinese practices can only be approximate; I just mean to gesture toward some possible distinctions.) Be this as it may, it may be that the arguments for using “Confucianism” in any of these contexts are weaker than many of us have assumed. What do you think: should we abandon the word “Confucianism”?
Issue 9 of 当代儒学 (Contemporary Confucianism) has been published, and the table of contents is available here.
Mat Foust has published a review of Stephen C. Angle and Michael Slote, eds., Virtue Ethics and Confucianism (Routledge, 2013) in the Sungkyun Journal of East Asian Studies. The full text of the review is available on-line here (look for “Book Review 4”). Thanks, Mat!
Journalist Qian Jianghua writes: “A leading Confucian academic’s defense of polygamy and arranged marriage continues to stoke tensions, months after he made the comments last year in an article titled ‘Only Confucianism can settle modern women.'” More here.
Sungmoon Kim’s new book, Public Reason Confucianism: Democratic Perfectionism and Constitutionalism in East Asia (Cambridge, 2016) has just been published. Congratulations, Sungmoon! Here are links to the CUP website and Amazon. Cambridge has also made available a form that anyone can use to get a 25% discount; click here. Here is the book’s description:
Recent proposals concerning Confucian meritocratic perfectionism have justified Confucian perfectionism in terms of political meritocracy. In contrast, ‘Confucian democratic perfectionism’ is a form of comprehensive Confucian perfectionism that can accommodate a plurality of values in civil society. It is also fully compatible with core values of democracy such as popular sovereignty, political equality, and the right to political participation. Sungmoon Kim presents ‘public reason Confucianism’ as the most attractive option for contemporary East Asian societies that are historically and culturally Confucian. Public reason Confucianism is a particular style of Confucian democratic perfectionism in which comprehensive Confucianism is connected with perfectionism via a distinctive form of public reason. It calls for an active role for the democratic state in promoting a Confucian conception of the good life, at the heart of which are such core Confucian values as filial piety and ritual propriety.
Bin Song, a graduate student at BU, writes:
We Boston Ruists will host a Ruist retreat this summer, July 1-3rd, at Boston University. Attached is the schedule, including all details of the retreat and logistics.
The initiative of this retreat was proposed by some friends in the Facebook group ‘Friends from Afar: a Confucianism group.’ I hope the retreat can be organized as a ‘middle’ sort of Ruism, aiming to propagate Ruist wisdom among ordinary American people but still not losing its scholarly virtuosity.
Anyone interested in learning more about the retreat, or in registering, should contact Bin Song (the information is on the attachment). Comments on this undertaking are of course welcome here.
Bin Song, who holds a PhD in Western philosophy from Nankai University and is currently pursuing a PhD in Religious Studies at Boston University, has begun a series of blog posts in the Huffington Post under the general title, “A Catechism of Confucianism.” As he explains there, “as a Buddhist-Christian Confucian, the primary focus of Bin Song’s spiritual and academic life is to increase the relevance of traditional Confucianism to the contemporary global human society through a on-going dialogue with ordinary people, a variety of philosophical traditions, and non-Confucian world religions.”
This multidisciplinary program, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, will offer five weeks of context-rich and critical engagement with Confucian teachings, practices and primary texts (in translation), examining how they have shaped and been shaped by the cultures and societies of China, Korea, Japan and Vietnam. The program will consider how Confucianism addressed both personal and social needs in ways that were inseparable from the dynamics of intellectual exchange, artistic production, social organization and politics.
I am very happy to pass on the news that the Chinese translation of my book Contemporary Confucian Political Philosophy: Toward Progressive Confucianism (Polity, 2013) has been published by Jiangxi People’s Press, as 《当代儒家政治哲学：进步儒学发凡》. More information, including the Preface to the Chinese Edition, can be found here. In case anyone is interested in an English-language version of this new Preface, I will post it below.
Earlier in the fall, Sam Crane posted a conference paper of his called “Confucianism in Modern American Life” at his blog. There was a bit of discussion there, as well as a longer response here. This is a subject in which I am very interested, and would certainly welcome any further thoughts anyone wants to share.
Over the past year, Edward Chung has published two significant books on Korean Confucianism, one a translation and one an overview. Please read on for details.
The next session of the Columbia University Seminar on Neo-Confucian Studies will convene Friday, November 6, 2015 from 3:30 to 5:30pm in the Heyman Center for the Humanities at Columbia University.
Eske Mollgaard will present the paper “Can Confucians Universalize Themselves?” Please contact the organizers for a copy.
All are welcome to attend. Please join us after the seminar for dinner at a location to be announced.
Two upcoming lectures at Taiwan’s Academia Sinica may be of interest to folks in the area:
Thursday, Oct 29, 10:00 a.m., 安靖如 (Stephen C. Angle), “將宋明理學當作哲學來教 (Teaching Neo-Confucianism as Philosophy),” 中國文哲研究所二樓會議室
Friday, Oct 30, 2:30 p.m., 許紀霖, “新天下主義與東亞的普遍性,” 中研院人社中心一樓中庭會議室 (Register here: http://www.rchss.sinica.edu.tw/conf/20151030/)
Kang Xiaoguang is an interesting contemporary Chinese social scientist, public intellectual, and promoter of a particular brand of Confucianism; I wrote about him a bit in Contemporary Confucian Political Philosophy. I have now learned that there is an English-language book about him: Monika Gaenssbauer, Confucianism and Social Issues in China — the Academician Kang Xiaoguang: Investigations into NGOs in China, the Falun Gong, Chinese Reportage, and the Confucian Tradition (Projectverlag, 2011). I will have to take a look!
I am very pleased to announce the publication of John Makeham’s outstanding translation of Xiong Shili’s huge influential New Treatise on the Uniqueness of Consciousness 新唯識論. This is the first East Asia-related volume in Yale University Press’s World Thought in Translation series. Congratulations, John!
Leigh Jenco’s review of my Contemporary Confucian Political Philosophy: Toward Progressive Confucianism (Polity, 2013) has been published in the Journal of Moral Philosophy 12(5).
An important new book on the revival of Confucianism in China has now appeared in English: The Sage and the People, by Sebastien Billioud and Joel Thoraval.
Based on almost a decade of fieldwork and a cross-disciplinary approach (anthropology, sociology, history), this book explores the popular revival of Confucianism that has taken place in China since the beginning of the twenty-first century. It does not primarily focus on intellectual or normative discourses but on the reappropriation and reinvention of popular practices in society. Analyzing empirically cases and narratives of activists involved in this “revival,” it attempts to understand their motivations, aspirations, difficulties, and achievements, as well as their ambiguous relation to Chinese politics. The Confucian revival is studied within the broader context of emerging challenges to Western categories (religion, philosophy, science etc) and great modernization narratives that prevailed throughout the twentieth century. Finally, by means of a comparison between state cults carried out in both Mainland China and Taiwan the book discusses the articulation of the political and the religious and, beyond that, the contemporary fate of the Chinese cosmological tradition.
An English translation of Mou Zongsan’s Autobiography at Fifty has been published. Enjoy!
Daniel A. Bell’s new book, The China Model: Political Meritocracy and the Limits of Democracy (Princeton, 2015) has been published. Amazon is here. Unsurprisingly, the book is occasioning considerable discussion. One early review is here. Comments (and references to other reviews) are welcome!
Sungmoon Kim, ed., Confucianism, Law and Democracy in Contemporary Korea (Rowman and Littlefield International; CEACOP Series in East Asian Comparative Ethics, Politics and Philosophy of Law) has been published. Congratulations to all involved: it looks terrific!
According to the Guangming Daily, “the interpretation of Confucian political philosophy” was one of the ten “hot” areas within Chinese academia in 2014. According to the newspaper’s staff, one of the key questions that scholars sought to answer was “What conceptual resources does the Confucian tradition have that can assist with the design of institutions in today’s China 儒家传统对今日中国之制度设计有哪些可资借鉴的思想资源？” For those with Chinese, some more details, and the other nine hot areas, are below. (It is item 3 on the list.)
China Daily reports: “A series of textbooks featuring gems of traditional Chinese culture, including Analects of Confucius and The Art of War, will be used by primary and middle school students across China, reported Beijing Daily. The new textbooks, compiled by China Center of Traditional Culture, aim to cultivate youngsters’ values and characters by teaching them Confucian classics, poems, Chinese medicine and the like….”
Two new articles in the latest China: An International Journal may be of interest, one on “Chinese democracy” and one on “Confucianism” and Chinese labor activism.
Two valuable new works:
- Xinyan Jiang has published Knowledge, Culture, and Chinese Philosophy A Study and Translation of Zhang Dongsun’s Works with Global Scholarly Publications.
- Katrin Froese has published Ethics Unbound: Chinese and Western Perspectives on Morality with Chinese University Press.
Congratulations to both authors!
A promising-looking new collection of essays on the multi-faceted revival of Confucianism in contemporary China, to be released in February by SUNY Press:
Until its rejection by reformers and revolutionaries in the twentieth century, Confucianism had been central to Chinese culture, identity, and thought for centuries. Confucianism was rejected by both Nationalists under Chiang Kai-shek and Mao Zedong’s Communist Party, which characterized it as an ideology of reaction and repression. Yet the sage has returned: today, Chinese people from all walks of life and every level of authority are embracing Confucianism. As China turned away from the excesses of the Cultural Revolution and experienced the adoption and challenges of market practices, alternatives were sought to the prevailing socialist morality. Beginning in the 1980s and continuing through the years, ideas, images, behaviors, and attitudes associated with Confucianism have come back into public and private life. In this volume, scholars from a wide range of disciplines explore the contemporary Confucian revival in China, looking at Confucianism and the state, intellectual life, and popular culture. Contributors note how the revival of Confucianism plays out in a variety of ways, from China’s relationship with the rest of the world, to views of capitalism and science, to blockbuster movies and teenage fashion.
Here is another in our occasional series of book reviews. Thanks to Mat for doing this, and comments are, of course, welcome!
Mathew A. Foust Central Connecticut State University
Review of Sam Crane, Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Dao: Ancient Chinese Thought in Modern American Life (UK: Wiley Blackwell, 2013), xi + 201 pp.
Sam Crane intends this volume for “people who have an interest in seeing how ancient Chinese thought might cast new light on the present day but who are not yet familiar with the time-honored works” (3), with the belief that Chinese thought can “show us something about our world and ourselves that we might otherwise not see” (10). More specifically, Crane applies concepts and theories from Confucianism and Daoism to several contemporary issues dotting the American landscape. After a chapter explaining key concepts of Confucianism and Daoism, Crane explores how these teachings might be brought to bear on debates arising in virtually every sphere of human life, from birth (e.g., the issue of abortion) to death (e.g., the issue of euthanasia). Although his arguments are occasionally strained by inadequate textual support, his volume is largely able to achieve its stated objectives.
Frontiers of Philosophy in China 9:3 has been published, and is available on-line. Among other things, there are reviews of:
- Brook Ziporyn, Ironies of Oneness and Difference: Coherence in Early Chinese Thought; Prolegomena to the Study of Li 理. (By Steve Coutinho)
- Stephen C. Angle, Contemporary Confucian Political Philosophy: Toward Progressive Confucianism. (By WANG Kun)
- Erica Fox Brindley, Music, Cosmology, and the Politics of Harmony in Early China. (By Heinrich Geiger)
In case some readers do not have access to this journal, I will add here some snippets from these three reviews.
Anna Sun’s book Confucianism as a World Religion has won two major awards:
- 2014 Best Book Award, Sociology of Religion Section of the American Sociological Association
- 2014 Best First Book in the History of Religions Award, American Academy of Religion
An interesting Global Times article: http://www.globaltimes.cn/content/892060.shtml
An article by Roger Ames, “儒学与世界文化秩序变革 (Confucianism and the Transformation of the International Cultural Order)” appeared in People’s Daily on Nov. 7.
Xiaomei Yang’s review of Stephen C. Angle (Ph.D, 1994) and Michael Slote, eds., Virtue Ethics and Confucianism has appeared in the most recent issue of Ethics, Vol. 125,# 1, 2014.
Joseph’s Chan’s feature review of my book Contemporary Confucian Political Philosophy: Toward Progressive Confucianism has just appeared in Philosophy East and West, Vol. 64,#3,2014, as well as two follow-ups:
- Joseph Chan. “’Self-Restriction’ and the Confucian Case for Democracy.”
- Stephen C. Angle. “Sages and Self-Restriction: A Response to Joseph Chan.”
- Joseph Chan. “Reply to Stephen C. Angle.”
A message from Sébastien Billioud:
A new CHINAFILE article: “What Does China Mean by ‘Rule of Law’? It’s more Confucianism than constitutionalism.” In my view the worries expressed in this article show all the more clearly why it is important to make clear that modern Confucianism needs to be responsive to the conditions of modernity: seeing law as independent from governmental authority is not “Western,” but good modern (progressive) Confucianism.
The inagural conference of the World Consortium for Research in Confucian Cultures will take place this coming week in Honolulu. More information, including conference program, is located here.
An interesting take on Xi Jinping’s frequent expressions of reverence for China’s past.
An interesting article examining the CCP’s motives for promoting Confucianism has been published: Shufang Wu, “The Revival of Confucianism and the CCP’s Struggle for Cultural Leadership: a content analysis of the People’s Daily, 2000–2009,” Journal of Contemporary China 23:89 (2014), pp. 971-991. Abstract follows, with the key line in bold.
This is a rich review of Joseph Chan’s important new book; the review is significant, in part, because it represents an engagement by someone from outside the Chinese philosophy world with contemporary Chinese thought. Wall is himself an advocate of perfectionism, which helps to explain why the cross-tradition engagement here is so fruitful.
Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews
Joseph Chan, Confucian Perfectionism: A Political Philosophy for Modern Times, Princeton University Press, 2014, 256pp., $35.00 (hbk), ISBN 9780691158617.
Reviewed by Steven Wall, University of Arizona
This is an unusual book. It is partly an effort to reconstruct and revive an ancient tradition of political thought, partly an exercise in comparing that tradition to western liberalism and partly a contribution to contemporary political theory. It does not fit into any well-defined disciplinary niche. Its unusual aims, in turn, present a challenge to the reviewer. Should the success of the project be assessed in terms of its fidelity to a tradition of thought that has shaped Chinese culture for over two millennia, or should it be assessed in terms of its contribution to contemporary political thought? No doubt the right answer to this question is that it should be assessed along both dimensions, but this answer does not tell us how much weight to give to each measure of assessment. My own assessment will not grapple with this problem, since I am in no position to gauge its success in remaining faithful to traditional Confucian ideas. Accordingly, this review does not offer a verdict on how well Confucian Perfectionism succeeds in its aim of staying true to Confucian political thought (leaving that judgment to others who are better placed to make it). It focuses instead on how well the view of politics that it presents hangs together and how well it contributes to an understanding of the political topics that it addresses.
Long-time friend of the blog, Sam Crane, blogs about his recent sit-down interview with Yu Dan, over at his blog, The Useless Tree.
Excuse the lack of modesty, but I’d like to announce the publication of my new book, Democracy in Contemporary Confucian Philosophy.
Journal of Confucian Studies (Chinese Thought and Culture Review)
The State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT) has recently approved to launch the Journal of Confucian Studies (Chinese Thought and Culture Review) and the Confucian Academy Press, devoted to the preservation and promotion of traditional Chinese culture. The Journal of Confucian Studies is the world’s only Chinese-English bilingual scholarly journal with the aim of promoting Chinese culture and conducting conversations among world civilizations. The Journal of Confucian Studies will be officially launched on August 1, 2014, at the 24th National Book Expo, co-held by SAPPRFT and People’s Government of Guizhou Province.
Fudan University professor and sometime contributor to this blog, Bai Tongdong, has his own blog here, and has recently posted some essays there (in Chinese) that some readers may be interested in. The most recent is “传统正名系列3 作为普适价值的儒学” or “Rectification of Names #3: Confucianism as Universal Value.” It is a provocative and (in my view) constructive interjection into the debates that have been raging over “universal” (which often is code for “Western”) values. Enjoy
Columbia Society for Comparative Philosophy lecture by Joseph Chan: “Confucianism and Democracy: Uneasy Marriage or Productive Partnership?” on Friday, April 18th @5:30pm
The following open letter has been circulating on the internet, signed by a long list of individuals, mostly academic scholars of Confucianism. They call for the repair, renovation, and re-opening of Confucian Temples around China; for expanding the roles of these temples (mainly in education); and for reorganizing the administration of the temples to move away from commercial goals. I apologize for not having the time right now to translate it.