War and Confucianism

Asian Philosophy 21 (2):213-226 (2011)
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Prima facie, Confucianism does not explicitly encourage war given its emphasis on humanity. This, however, may be overlooked. This paper is to examine the correlation between war and Confucianism and to argue that Confucianism should take some, if not primary, blame for the vicious circles of China's war and chaos for more than two millennia. To see the correlation, we explore two readings—top-down and bottom-up—from two sources of Confucianism—Great Learning and Mencius respectively. The top-down reading is this: from a ruler's point of view, a czar has a moral obligation to maintain world peace by force if necessary, whereas the bottom-up is this: from the people's point of view, war is a necessary means to remove non-ren (or atrocious) kings. Since Confucianism is the cardinal philosophy in the second half of Chinese history plus the interaction of its two momentums (or readings), it is not too hard to realize that it could easily sustain war. If so, it makes no sense to say that Confucianism should not bear any responsibility for the vicious circles of war and chaos in the second half. Finally, given the account, we also explore an intriguing and imminent worry—whether the rise of China will threaten world peace.



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Anglo-American philosophy in Taiwan: a centennial review.Tzu-Wei Hung - 2022 - Asian Journal of Philosophy 1 (1):1-16.

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A source book in Chinese philosophy.Wing-Tsit Chan - 1963 - Princeton, N.J.,: Princeton University Press. Edited by Wing-Tsit Chan.
Confucian Justice: Achieving a Humane Society.R. Peerenboom - 1990 - International Philosophical Quarterly 30 (1):17-32.

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