Earlier this month Joseph Chan, a well-known authority on Confucianism at the University of Hong Kong, published a short essay (in Chinese) that draws on the Analects (especially 8:13) to think about people’s responsibilities when a state “lacks the Way.” A very brief summary: when Confucius says that in a state lacking the Way one should “yin 隱” (which is translated “conceal” in that Ctext link), he does not mean that one should hide away and fail to engage with the society. It might be worth contrasting this with questions raised in 2014 during the Umbrella Movement about the lack of Confucian discourse at that time.
Philip J. Ivanhoe’s article, “How Confucius loses face in China’s new surveillance regime” has been published at Aeon. For the full article, click the URL below:
T. H. Jiang & Shuan O’Dwyer, “The Universal Ambitions Of China’s Illiberal Confucian Scholars,” has been published in the on-line journal Palladium. It begins:
Amid today’s talk of a coming civilizational clash between China and the West, it is easy to find philosophical experts on China holding forth on the cultural contours of Sino-Western civilizational difference. “China has always been and always will continue to be a communitarian society,” some have insisted; and its Confucian ethos is not a doctrine like America’s liberal individualism, but is instead the “ongoing narrative of a specific community of a people, the center of an ongoing ‘way’ or Dao.”
Such explanations amount to orientalist fantasies. How an industrialized society like modern China, transformed by both Communism and market reforms could still be defined by primordial cultural characteristics is not explained. Moreover, far from being a continuous, deeply organic narrative of the Chinese people, Confucianism is a diverse set of doctrines that have been ideologically contested, marginalized, reinvented and imposed as state dogmas at different times in Chinese history. This point holds for a brand of illiberal, statist Confucianism being promoted today in some of China’s leading universities, a brand whose future is still uncertain, but whose proponents hold out great hopes for its adoption into Chinese Communist Party orthodoxy. Moreover, this reinvented nationalist Confucianism is not without precedent in the modern history of East Asia; over a century ago, Japanese scholars educated in Europe were the pioneers of such a reinvention. This precedent, its cross-cultural inspirations, and its present day historical parallels in contemporary Chinese intellectual life merit examination, in view of the claims made by scholars for the cultural centrality of Confucianism in a morally renewed, globally rising China….
The Centre of East Asian and Comparative Philosophy of City University of Hong Kong is hosting a public seminar on 19 August, 2019, titled: “Can Confucianism Meet Contemporary Challenges in Hong Kong?” The speaker is professor Baogang He from Deakin University, Australia. For more information, please see the event flyer here.
The latest issue of the Journal of Social Philosophy includes a Book Symposium on Sungmoon Kim’s Public Reason Confucianism (Cambridge, 2016):
- Joseph Chan, Public Reason Confucianism Without Foundation?
- Baldwin Wong, A Non‐Sectarian Comprehensive Confucianism?—On Kim’s Public Reason Confucianism
- Franz Mang, Why Public Reason Could Not Be Too Modest: The Case of Public Reason Confucianism
- Stephen C. Angle, Does Confucian Public Reason Depend on Confucian Civil Religion?
- Sungmoon Kim, In Defense of Public Reason Confucianism: Reply to Chan, Mang, Wong, and Angle
A brief article from the South China Morning Post that is relevant for anyone interested in the uses and abuses of Confucianism in the modern world: “China runs Confucian culture courses for religious leaders in bid to boost control.”
The Issue is Not the Issue: A Podcast with Hans-Georg Moeller and Dan Sarafinas
Hans-Georg Moeller and Dan Sarafinas discuss contemporary debates on “political correctness” and related moral and social issues. They point to concepts such as virtue speech (“virtue signalling”), civil religion, “profilicity,” and the role of critique to better understand their nature.
Episode 3—Critique: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3W1m0Bez8vU
Philosophy today runs the risk of once more becoming the “handmaiden of theology” by being put in the service of civil religion. The Kantian concept of critique is revived to reflect on contemporary dogmatism and associated power structures that lead to phenomena such as “competitive wokeness” in entertainment (Taylor Swift) or the need to write “diversity statements” in academia. The idea of a therapeutic rather than a normative philosophy is suggested and it is explained how society, along with critique, evolves rather than progresses.
Episode 4—Profilicity: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Yz1C0-mtWI
Why do we need to produce “virtue speech”? We need it to be competitive in society and to bolster our public profiles. A new profile-based identity paradigm, called “profilicity,” is on the rise. It is replacing other identity paradigms such as sincerity and authenticity and provides not only individuals but also institutions (political parties, companies, universities, etc.) with identity value.