Asian Philosophy 10 (3):245 – 261 (2000)

The debate between Hans-Georg Gadamer and Jürgen Habermas provides a fresh perspective from which Confucian philosophy may be approached. In this paper, focusing on the Lunyu (Analects), I argue that the sayings of Confucius reflect an essentially 'conservative' orientation, finding in tradition a reservoir of insight and truth. There is a critical dimension to it in that ethical reflection and self-cultivation would enable the individual to challenge particular claims of tradition. However, can self-cultivation transcend tradition as a whole and enable the individual to effect radical change? Following the strategy of Habermas' critique of Gadamer, what happens if tradition is systemically corrupt? In this discussion, rather than taking tradition generally I will focus on the concept of ritual (li) to suggest how the Lunyu seeks to crystallise the wisdom of the past into an ethical guide. The conclusion I draw is in the main a Gadamerian one. Committed to a critical appropriation of tradition, Confucian philosophy seeks ethical renewal from within, on the premise that through incremental change self-cultivation can make a real difference in the quest for moral excellence.
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DOI 10.1080/09552360020011286
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References found in this work BETA

Name and Actuality in Early Chinese Thought.Mark L. Asselin - 1997 - Journal of the American Oriental Society 117 (2):392.

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The Contemporary Relevance of the Confucian Idea of Filial Piety.A. T. Nuyen - 2004 - Journal of Chinese Philosophy 31 (4):433–450.

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