Self-transformation and civil society: Lockean vs. confucian

Abstract

Although contemporary Confucianists tend to view Western liberalism as pitting the individual against society, recent liberal scholarship has vigorously claimed that liberal polity is indeed grounded in the self-transformation that produces “liberal virtues.” To meet this challenge, this essay presents a sophisticated Confucian critique of liberalism by arguing that there is an appreciable contrast between liberal and Confucian self-transformation and between liberal and Confucian virtues. By contrasting Locke and Confucius, key representatives of each tradition, this essay shows that both liberalism and Confucianism aim to reconstruct a society freed from antisocial passions entailing a vicious politics of resentment, and yet come to differing ethical and political resolutions. My key claim is that what makes Confucian self-cultivation so distinctive is the incorporation of ritual propriety ( li ) within it, whereas liberal self-transformation that relies heavily on a method of self-control comes back to the problem that it originally set out to overcome.

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References found in this work

Political Liberalism.John Rawls - 1993 - Columbia University Press.
An Essay Concerning Human Understanding.John Locke - 1689 - London, England: Oxford University Press.
Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity.Richard Rorty - 1989 - Cambridge University Press.
Political Liberalism.J. Rawls - 1995 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 57 (3):596-598.
The Sexual Contract.Carole Pateman - 1988 - Polity Press.

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Citations of this work

Democracy in Confucianism.Sor-Hoon Tan - 2012 - Philosophy Compass 7 (5):293-303.
Confucian Social Media: An Oxymoron?Pak-Hang Wong - 2013 - Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 12 (3):283-296.
A Critique of Confucian Learning: On Learners and Knowledge.Ruyu Hung - 2016 - Educational Philosophy and Theory 48 (1):85-96.
Confucius’ Junzi : The Conceptions of Self in Confucian.Jinhua Song & Xiaomin Jiao - 2017 - Educational Philosophy and Theory 50 (13):1171-1179.

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