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Contemporary Confucian Political Philosophy

ISBN: 978-0-7456-6129-2
220 pages
June 2012, Polity
Contemporary Confucian Political Philosophy (0745661297) cover image
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 (1909-1995) 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.
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Preface page vii

1 Introduction: Contextualizing Progressive Confucianism 1

2 Self-Restriction: The Indirect Link Between Ethics and Politics 24

3 Rethinking Authority and Rejecting Authoritarianism: Giving the People their Voice 36

4 Debating the Rule of Law and Virtue Politics: Zhang Shizhao, Mou Zongsan, and Today 58

5 The Rights of All Under Heaven: Human Rights and Contemporary Confucianism 74

6 Neither Ethics nor Law: Ritual Propriety as Confucian Civility 91

7 Virtue, Politics, and Social Criticism: Toward Deference without Oppression 111

8 Conclusion: The Shape of Confucian Virtue-Ritual-Politics 136

Notes 147

Bibliography 180

Index and Glossary of Chinese Terms 194

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Stephen C. Angle is professor of philosophy at Wesleyan University.

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"There are so many issues raised in this brilliant book that it is difficult to render justice to them all."
Journal of Chinese Studies

"Confucianism is making a comeback. Cultural conservatives will rejoice. But so should political progressives. With his usual insight, balance, and historically informed normative theorizing, Stephen Angle shows that new interpretations of traditional Confucian values such as hierarchy, deference, and ritual can and should challenge oppressive social practices. This original book is both counter-intuitive and persuasive."
Daniel A. Bell, Jiaotong University, Shanghai and Tsinghua University, Beijing

"Stephen Angle is one of the most well-informed and actively engaged political philosophers seeking to bring the Confucian tradition into productive dialogue as a full and equal partner with the contemporary West in a mutually edifying endeavor he calls global philosophy. His command of the works of Chinese thinkers such as Mou Zongsan is most impressive and clearly displayed in this latest work."
Philip J. Ivanhoe, City University of Hong Kong

"Stephen Angle provides an accessible reconstruction of the political philosophy of Mou Zongsan, an important contemporary Confucian philosopher highly influential in the philosophical circles of Taiwan and Hong Kong.  This book opens the door to contemporary developments of Confucianism in China and Taiwan."
JeeLoo Liu, California State University, Fullerton

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“Confucianism is making a comeback. Cultural conservatives will rejoice. But so should political progressives. With his usual insight, balance, and historically informed normative theorizing, Stephen Angle shows that new interpretations of traditional Confucian values such as hierarchy, deference, and ritual can and should challenge oppressive social practices. This original book is both counter-intuitive and persuasive.”

Daniel A. Bell, Jiaotong University, Shanghai and Tsinghua University, Beijing

 

“Stephen Angle is one of the most well-informed and actively engaged political philosophers seeking to bring the Confucian tradition into productive dialogue as a full and equal partner with the contemporary West in a mutually edifying endeavor he calls global philosophy. His command of the works of Chinese thinkers such as Mou Zongsan is most impressive and clearly displayed in this latest work.”

Philip J. Ivanhoe, City University of Hong Kong

 

“Stephen Angle provides an accessible reconstruction of the political philosophy of Mou Zongsan, an important contemporary Confucian philosopher highly influential in the philosophical circles of Taiwan and Hong Kong.  This book opens the door to contemporary developments of Confucianism in China and Taiwan.”

JeeLoo Liu, California State University, Fullerton

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