Readers may be interested in this “Advice to Washington From Ancient China,” based on the Huainanzi.
I’d like to call out one item in the recently-published issue of Comparative Philosophy for special mention. “The Future of Confucian Political Philosophy” is a 22,000 word edited transcript of a roundtable discussion that was held in Hong Kong in February 2017. (Direct link to the transcript is here.) The main speakers are:
- Stephen C. ANGLE, Wesleyan University
- Elton CHAN, Yale-NUS College
- Joseph CHAN, University of Hong Kong
- Jiwei CI, University of Hong Kong
- Ruiping FAN, City University of Hong Kong
- Yong HUANG, Chinese University of Hong Kong
- Yi-Huah JIANG, City University of Hong Kong
- Sungmoon KIM, City University of Hong Kong
We each make presentations, and then there is ample time for discussion, both among the invited speakers and with other attendees. On behalf of all participants, I hope that readers will find this to be an engaging snapshot of the some of the state of the art — and some glimpses of the future — of Confucian political philosophy. Discussion here of its themes is of course encouraged!
SUNY has published Confucianism for the Contemporary World: Global Order, Political Plurality, and Social Action, edited by Kristin Stapleton and Tze-ki Hon. More details are here and below.
A couple weeks ago, Bryan Van Norden published “The Confucian roots of Xi Jinping’s policies” in The Straits Times (Singapore); a Chinese translation was also subsequently published. The essay begins:
Commentators have been quick to observe that the recent Chinese Communist Party Congress guaranteed President Xi Jinping’s firm grip on power for years to come. However, few have noted the Confucian roots of Mr Xi’s world view.
Mr Xi himself has been very candid about his admiration for traditional Chinese thought and his view that Chinese socialism is consistent with it. As I point out in my recent book, Taking Back Philosophy: A Multicultural Manifesto, Mr Xi’s appropriations of traditional Chinese thought are sometimes opportunistic. But the same can be said of the way many US politicians appeal to the Bible. In addition, there are at least four points on which Mr Xi is genuinely Confucian in spirit.
Sam Crane has published an essay called “Philosopher King: The classical philosophy that Xi Jinping ignores” via the Los Angeles Review of Books China Channel. It opens:
In his first five-year term as General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party and President of the People’s Republic of China, Xi Jinping regularly cited classical Chinese philosophy in order to bolster his image as a man of learning and virtue. In May 2014, he implied his own rectitude by invoking Confucius in Analects 15.1 at a meeting of young people: “The noble man considers righteousness essential.” Although we’ve been hearing more Marxism in connection to Xi’s name of late, there is good reason to believe he will continue to reach for a neo-traditionalist brand of political legitimation over the next five years. But his apparent erudition is selective….
Duke University Press has published Bin Wang, ed., Chinese Visions of World Order: Tianxia, Culture, and World Politics, which looks like an important collection of essays. More information is here.
A new essay called “In Defense of Hierarchy,” the joint responsibility of several of us but largely written by Julian Baggini, has been published at Aeon. It is the fruit of discussions at a conference sponsored by the Berggruen Philosophy and Culture Center, and is an interesting example of comparative or what some folks are now calling cosmopolitan philosophy. Enjoy!
Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews
Eirik Lang Harris, The Shenzi Fragments: A Philosophical Analysis and Translation, Columbia University Press, 2016, 173pp., $55.00 (hbk), ISBN 9780231177665.
Reviewed by Franklin Perkins, University of Hawai’i at Manoa
Cambridge University Press has published East Asian Perspectives on Political Legitimacy: Bridging the Empirical-Normative Divide, edited by Joseph Chan, Doh Chuli Shin, and Melissa S. Williams. More details and table of contents here.
Columbia University Press has also published Eirik Harris’s outstanding study of the Shenzi fragments — congratulations, Eirik!
Eirik Lang Harris, The Shenzi Fragments: A Philosophical Analysis and Translation (Columbia University Press, 2016)
Read on for details on the book, as well as a code that can be used for a 30% discount on the book.
I am posting this on behalf of Eirik Harris and Henry Schneider:
Chinese Legalism was at its peak in the Qin and Qing eras. Chairman Mao started what would be a brief revival of the ideas of Hanfei and Shang Yang. What role do the ideas of Chinese Legalism / Realism play today? Eirik Harris (City University of Hong Kong) and Henry Schneider (University of Graz) want to explore contemporary applications of Early Chinese Realist / Legal / Administrative / … / thought.
Interested scholars are welcome to participate. At the moment, Eirik and Henry are interested in organizing different panels for both the APA Pacific 2017 (Seattle) and the ICSP 2017 (Singapore). With time, a more ambitious working and publication program can emerge. Scholars, students and all interested people should contact email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org. If you want to submit papers for the above mentioned panels, you are more than welcome.
Someone said to Confucius, “Master, why don’t you engage in government?” The Master said, “The Book of Documents says, ‘Filial! But be filial, and a friend to your brothers, thus contributing to government.’ Why then do that other kind of ‘engaging in government’?”
I’ll suppose for the sake of argument that the reported exchange is authentic, and argue that it is not significant evidence of Confucius’ views. Confucius is not aiming to communicate his views 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.
Loubna El Amine discusses Confucianism, human rights, and related topics–and even mentions this blog–in her recent Washington Post piece, “Are ‘democracy’ and ‘human rights’ Western colonial exports? No. Here’s why.”
The new issue of Perspectives on Politics (14:1, March 2016), available here, contains several articles of interest:
- Loubna El Amine, “Beyond East and West: Reorienting Political Theory through the Prism of Modernity”
- An extended discussion of Daniel Bell’s The China Model, with articles by Baogang He, Victoria Tin-bor Hui, Leigh Jenco, Andrew Nathan, Lynette Ong, Thomas Pangle, and Joseph Wang.