Category Archives: Articles of Interest

Article of Interest: ‘Confucianism’, an Alternative Source of Belief in Contemporary Chinese Society

Lan Jiang-fu’s article “‘Confucianism’, an Alternative Source of Belief in Contemporary Chinese Society: An Empirical Study of the Founding of Xin 信 in a ‘Confucian’ Company” has just been published in the journal Religions.

Abstract:

Open claims to Confucian values, often associated with cultural traditionalism and a larger revival of Confucianism among the Chinese population from the 2000s onwards, have gained momentum in the world of entrepreneurs. The intensity of this phenomenon can be explained by a wide variety of motivations, among which a desire to establish a belief, a sort of xin 信 towards traditional values, has emerged from within the “Confucian” company. Based on fieldwork carried out between 2017 and 2018 at TW, a private company located in Dongguan (Guangdong), this paper aims to analyze the efforts undertaken by “Confucian” managers to use the spiritual guidance role of Confucianism. Our work is organized into three sections. First, we analyze the main modalities of proselytizing within TW. Then, based on the personal experiences of three employees of this company, we try to understand how they live the jiaohua and to what extent this “educational” experience inspired by Confucianism has allowed them to reorient themselves towards a new way of perceiving the world. Finally, by placing it in a broader context, that of contemporary Chinese society’s crisis of values, we question the role Confucianism can play in the foundation of a population’s beliefs.

The full text is available here.

Article of Interest: Batsch, “The Rationality Wars”

Readers may be interested in: Shadi Bartsch, “The Rationality Wars: The Ancient Greeks and the Counter-Enlightenment in Contemporary China,” History & Theory 59:4 (2020). Here’s the abstract:

Amid contemporary discussions about the relationship of logic to knowing, an entirely different conversation about the moral status of rationality is taking place between Chinese and Western thinkers. Although most would agree that deductive thought has been a highly privileged feature of the Western philosophical tradition since Plato (for good or bad), the question of its role in Confucian thought is less clear—and considerations of this topic tend to be highly charged. In turn, the question of whether the West has been tarred by a Weberian descent into a merely instrumental form of rationality has emerged as a hot topic in Chinese scholarship. However, the question merely supplies a way of engaging in cross‐cultural comparisons that are political rather than genuinely philosophical in nature. This article explores the sparring over terminology and concepts that characterizes this recent trend in scholarship. Ultimately, it suggests that instead of Chinese scholars appropriating the ideas of Western authors in order to raise anti‐Western specters of spiritual derangement, both traditions would be better off discarding this outdated and essentializing terminology in the first place.

Confucianism as Virtue Ethics in the Sinophone World

Almost 15 years ago when I spent a year in Beijing, much of it spent writing Sagehood, there was relatively little engagement with the idea that Confucian ethics might be helpfully understood through the lens of “virtue ethics.” Quite a lot has changed since then in the Chinese-speaking philosophical world. (OK, that’s an understatement; I’m confining myself to the question of virtue ethics for today.) Consider these 2020 articles:

  • Tang Wenming 唐文明, “美德伦理学、儒家传统与现代社会的普遍困境——以陈来《儒学美德论》为中心的讨论 [Virtue Ethics, The Confucian Tradition, and the Universal Predicament of Modern Societies—Taking Chen Lai’s Confucian Virtue Theory as Focus]” (On-line publication on 《儒家网》 here)
  • Yang Guorong 杨国荣, “德性、知识与哲学进路——由黄勇新著《当代美德伦理——古代儒家的贡献》引发的若干思考 [Virtue, Knowledge, and the Philosophical Road Ahead—Some Thoughts Prompted by Huang Yong’s Contemporary Virtue Ethics—Contributions from Ancient Confucianism]” (On-line publication on 《儒家网》 here)

Each of these essays, in turn, reacts to a fairly recent book-length publication, also in Chinese, exploring the subject in depth. (Details on the contents of Chen Lai’s book are here; Huang Yong’s are here.)

You might reasonably expect given what I’ve written so far that I’d now go on to explain and engage with the details of Prof. Tang and Prof. Yang’s take on virtue ethics and Confucianism. Alas, it’s all I can do right now to find time to share this much! Perhaps after classes are over….

2019 Dao Annual Best Essay Award

Dao has established “The Annual Best Essay Award” since 2007. In addition to a certificate of achievement, the award comes along with a prize of US$1,000. The award winners are noted in the website of the journal as well as the website of Springer, the publisher of the journal. The award ceremony is held each year at the American Philosophical Association Annual Meeting (Eastern Division) in January, where a special panel on the theme of the award winning essay is held. The critical comments and the author’s responses to them presented at the panel, after revision and review, will be published in the last issue of Dao each year.

The selection process consists of two stages. At the beginning of each year, a nominating committee of at least three editorial members, who have not published in Dao in the given year, is established. This committee is charged with the task of nominating three best essays published in the previous year. These three essays are then sent to the whole editorial board for deliberation. The final winner is decided by a vote by all editorial board members who are not authors of the nominated essays.

The editorial board has just finished its deliberation on the best essay published in 2019, and the award is given to:

Alexei Procyshyn and Mario Wenning, “Recognition and Trust: Hegel and Confucius on the Normative Basis of Ethical Life.” Dao 18 (2019): 1-22.

Continue reading →

Stanchina on Wang Yangming and Sloterdijk

Back in 2015, Gabriella Stanchina published a fascinating comparative article titled “Zhi 知as unceasing dynamism and practical effort. The common root of knowledge and action in Wang Yangming and Peter Sloterdijk” in Wenxue: Journal of the ECNU Simian Institute for advanced studies in Humanities. Because the journal is not readily available, she has received permission to share it here. Enjoy!

Some newish journal articles

As I have mentioned before, I am happy to post information about articles relevant to Chinese and/or comparative philosophy that are published in journals other than those whose Tables of Contents we try to routinely post. Please just send the information to me! In that spirit:

In the summer 2019 issue of The Review of Politics, three relevant items:

  • Zhuoyao Li, “Political Confucianism and Multivariate Democracy in East Asia” (see here)
  • Sungmoon Kim, “Reasonable Pluralism and Pragmatic Confucian Democracy: Reply to Li” (see here)
  • Zhuoyao Li, “Between Confucianism and Democracy: A Response to Sungmoon Kim” (see here)

And in New German Critique:

  • Paul J. D’Ambrosio and Hans-Georg Moeller, “From Authenticity to Profilicity: A Critical Response to Roberto Simanowski and Others” (see here)
  • Roberto Simanowski, “On Self-Construction in Social Media: A Response to D’Ambrosio and Moeller” (see here)