New Confucianism (Chinese: 新儒家; pinyin: xīn rú jiā; literally: 'new Confucianism') is an intellectual movement of Confucianism that began in the early 20th century in Republican China, and further developed in post-Mao era contemporary China. It is deeply influenced by, but not identical with, the neo-Confucianism of the Song and Ming dynasties. It is a neo-conservative movement of various Chinese traditions and has been regarded as containing religious overtones; it advocates for certain Confucianist elements of society – such social, ecological, and political harmony – to be applied in a contemporary context in synthesis with Western philosophies such as rationalism and humanism. Its philosophies have emerged as a focal point of discussion between Confucian scholars in mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and the United States.
The first generation of new Confucians (1921–1949) came about as a response to the May Fourth movement and its iconoclastic stance against Confucianism. Confucianism was attacked as unscientific and contrary to the progress of a modern China. One notable figure during this time was Xiong Shili, who studied Buddhism in depth in his youth but later sought for a reformation of the Confucian philosophical framework. Borrowing from the school of Wang Yangming, Xiong developed a metaphysical system for the new Confucian movement and believed Chinese learning was superior to Western learning. Another figure, Feng Youlan, following the neo-Confucian school of Zhu Xi, sought a revival of Chinese philosophy based on modern Western philosophy.
With the start of the communist regime in China in 1949, many of the leading intellectuals left the mainland to Taiwan, Hong Kong, and the United States. Notable figures of this second generation (1950–1979) include individuals like Tang Junyi, Mou Zongsan, and Xu Fuguan, all three students of Xiong Shili. Zongsan, in particular, was well-versed in the ancient Chinese philosophical traditions and argued that Immanuel Kant was, in many ways, a Western Confucius. These three, together with Zhang Junmai, issued in 1958 the New Confucian Manifesto consolidating their beliefs and drawing attention to their philosophical movement.
In the last few decades, the most vocal representatives of the new Confucian movement have been the students of Mou Zongsan. Perhaps one of the most prominent, Tu Wei-ming, has promoted the idea that Confucianism saw three epochs: the classical pre-Han Confucianism, Song-Ming neo-Confucianism, and new Confucianism. This third generation has been instrumental in grounding Confucianism in non-Asian contexts, as can be seen through Boston Confucianism and other Western Confucians like Wm. Theodore de Bary.
Whereas the English rendering of the movement is generally new Confucianism, there is a variety of translations in the Chinese. Many Taiwan-based writers will tend to use the term contemporary new Confucianism (simplified Chinese: 当代新儒家; traditional Chinese: 當代新儒家; pinyin: dāng dài xīn rú jiā or simplified Chinese: 当代新儒学; traditional Chinese: 當代新儒學; pinyin: dāng dài xīn rú xué) to emphasize the movement's continuity with the Song-Ming neo-Confucianism. However, many within Mainland China prefer the term modern new Confucianism (simplified Chinese: 现代新儒家; traditional Chinese: 現代新儒家; pinyin: xiàn dài xīn rú jiā or simplified Chinese: 现代新儒学; traditional Chinese: 現代新儒學; pinyin: xiàn dài xīn rú xué) with an emphasis on the period of modernization after May Fourth.
New Confucianism is a school of Chinese philosophy influenced by Confucianism. After the events of the May Fourth Movement in 1919, in which Confucianism was blamed for China’s weakness and decline in the face of Western aggression, a major Chinese philosopher of the time, Xiong Shili (1885–1968), established and re-constructed Confucianism as a response. New Confucianism is a political, ethical, and social philosophy using metaphysical ideas from both Western Philosophy and Eastern. It is categorized into three generations, starting with Xiong Shili and Feng Youlan as the first generation philosophers who set the basis. The second generation consists of Xiong's students, Mou Zongsan, Tang Junyi, and Xu Fuguan. The third generation is not determined via figures unlike previous generation but new Confucianism from 1980. Xiong and his follower's attempts to reconstruct Confucianism gave new Confucianism its Chinese name, xīn rú jiā.
Xiong Shili (1885–1968) is widely regarded as the thinker who laid down the basis for the revival of Confucianism as new Confucianism in the twentieth century. Much of the basis of new Confucianism comes from Xiong's New Doctrine. Proficient in Buddhist classics, Xiong argued that classics of Eastern Philosophy must be integrated in contemporary Chinese philosophy for more solidity. Xiong recognized Buddhism's dark view of the human nature, but also recognized that there are brighter sides to the human nature. For this very reason, he rejected the Buddhist learning of "daily decrease" which dictated that the practice to suppress one's dark nature was necessary. He arrived to such conclusion after his examination of Classic Confucianism. While Confucianism also examines the negative aspect of human nature, thus the necessity to habituate oneself with ritual, the purpose of the practice of ritual and attainment of ren is not focused on restricting the darker aspects of human nature but developing the "fundamental goodness", i.e., the duan of human beings that Mencius writes of.
In order to incorporate Buddhism with Confucianism as a part of his contemporary Chinese philosophy encompassing various Eastern philosophies, Xiong proposed a correction of Buddhist learning of daily decrease. Xiong understood the basis behind "daily decrease" to be Buddhism's metaphysical belief of the "unbridgeable split between an absolute unchanging reality (Dharma-nature or fa-xing), and a constantly changing and conditional phenomenal world (Dharma-characters or fa-xing) (Xiong, 1994, pp. 69-77, 84-5, 111-12). Jiyuan Yu, in his examination of Xiong, describes this as the "Separation theory". Meanwhile, Xiong's theory behind correcting the "daily decrease" rested heavily upon what Yu describes as the "Sameness Thesis". Xiong, in his New Doctrine, calls this Dharma-nature ti and Dharma-characters yong. Xiong argues that unlike how Buddhism perceives these two worlds, these two worlds are a unity. Xiong's reasoning is shown in his 1985 version of New Doctrine:
If they are separable, function will differ from original reality and exist independently, and in that way function will have its own original reality. We should not seek for some entity outside function and name it original reality. Furthermore, if original reality exists independent of function, it is a useless reality. In that case, if it is not a dead thing, it must be a dispensable thing. Thinking back and forth, I believe that original reality and function are not separable. (Xiong, 1985, p. 434)
His view on this unity can be seen in his earlier works such as New Treatise on the Uniqueness of Consciousness. In New Treatise, he argues that the Reality is equal to the Mind. This Mind does not refer to one's individual mind but the universal presence in which there is a universality of mind amongst all beings, thus being the reality. Xiong incorporates the Confucian and Buddhist concept of self-mastery of one's desires, by arguing that failing to control one's desires and individual mind, one will be "a heap of dead matter". Xiong's view is that one should perceive objects of the world internally, since what is external is ultimately also internal and that they are one as both Mind and Reality.
Mou Zongsan is considered to be one of the more influential second generation philosophers. Mou's general philosophy on metaphysics stays in line with Xiong's. However, he embellishes upon Xiong's theories on Mind and Reality to apply it to a more socio-political aspect. Mou claims universality exists in all philosophical truth. Which suggests that political and social theories of the world can be connected in essence. Mou argues in his lectures that particularity exists because of the different systems that are established in different cultures. However, these different systems, after a series of philosophical reasoning and interpretation, arrive at a same philosophical truth. He believes that our physical limitations, i.e., our physical being, create these different systems and different cultures. However, being that our mind, i.e., form, is still manifested and exists within this physical world, we should not let these limitations prevent us from practicing philosophical reasoning.
Mou's political philosophy is more clearly showed as he discusses the historical necessity that follows the particularity of human beings. Different nations and different systems' existence can be explained mainly because of this historical necessity. Mou asserts that historical necessity exists neither because of logical necessity or metaphysical necessity but because of what he calls a development of the spirit, what he also labels as dialectical necessity. He claims that history however should be perceived and interpreted as something that has both historical necessity i.e., also dialectical necessity, and moral necessity. For there are two types of judgment: moral and historical. Mou states, that Greek or Chinese, these basic necessities behind history and fundamental human character are the same, and therefore universality in philosophical truth exists even behind politics and history.
The term itself was first used as early as 1963 (in two articles in the Hong Kong journal Rensheng). However, it did not come into common use until the late 1970s. New Confucianism is often associated with the essay, "A Manifesto on Chinese Culture to the World," which was published in 1958 by Tang Junyi, Mou Zongsan, Xu Fuguan and Zhang Junmai. This work is often referred to as the "New Confucian Manifesto", although that phrase never occurs in it. The Manifesto presents a vision of Chinese culture as having a fundamental unity throughout history, of which Confucianism is the highest expression. The particular interpretation of Confucianism given by the Manifesto is deeply influenced by neo-Confucianism, and in particular the version of neo-Confucianism most associated with Lu Xiangshan and Wang Yangming (as opposed to that associated with Zhu Xi). In addition, the Manifesto argues that while China must learn from the West modern science and democracy, the West must learn from China (and the Confucian tradition in particular) "a more all-encompassing wisdom."
The concept of a harmonious society (simplified Chinese: 和谐社会; traditional Chinese: 和諧社會; pinyin: héxié shèhuì) dates back to the time of Confucius. As a result, the philosophy has also been characterized as deriving from new Confucianism. In modern times, it developed into a key feature of former Communist Party general secretary Hu Jintao's signature ideology of the Scientific Development Concept developed in the mid-2000s, being re-introduced by the Hu–Wen Administration during the 2005 National People's Congress.
The philosophy is recognized as a response to the increasing social injustice and inequality emerging in mainland Chinese society as a result of unchecked economic growth, which has led to social conflict. The governing philosophy was therefore shifted around economic growth to overall societal balance and harmony. Along with a moderately prosperous society, it was set to be one of the national goals for the ruling communist party .
The promotion of "Harmonious Society" demonstrated that Hu Jintao's ruling philosophy had departed from that of his predecessors. Near the end of his tenure in 2011, Hu appeared to extend the ideology to an international dimension, with a focus on the international peace and cooperation, which is said to lead to a "harmonious world". The administration of Hu's successor, Xi Jinping, has used the philosophy more sparingly.
Some scholars, notably Yan Xuetong and Daniel A. Bell, advocate the restoration of meritocratic Confucian institutions such as the censorate in China and elsewhere as part of a new Confucian political program. Others (e.g., Jana S. Rošker) emphasize that Confucianism is by no means a monolithic or static scope of traditional thought, but rather implies different currents that can be used quite arbitrarily and selectively by modern ideologies, which are marked by their function of legitimizing the state power. Considering the historical development of the concept of harmony we need to ask ourselves to what extent are the philosophical traditions based on historic assumptions, and to what extent are they merely a product of the (ideological and political) demands of the current period.
"A Manifesto for a Re-appraisal of Sinology and Reconstruction of Chinese Culture" (为中国文化敬告世界人士宣言; Wei Zhongguo Wenua Jinggao Shijie Renshi Xuanyan; also translated as “Declaration on Behalf of Chinese Culture Respectfully Announced to the People of the World”) is an essay originally published in China and Taiwan in 1958. The essay's collective authors included Carsun Chang (Zhang Junmai), Tang Chun-I (Tang Junyi), Mou Tsung-san (Mou Zongsan), and Hsu Fo-kuan (Xu Fuguan), all “New Confucianism” scholars and notable students of Xiong Shili.Australian philosophy
Australian philosophy refers to the philosophical tradition of the people of Australia and of its citizens abroad.Chinese philosophy
Chinese philosophy originates in the Spring and Autumn period and Warring States period, during a period known as the "Hundred Schools of Thought", which was characterized by significant intellectual and cultural developments. Although much of Chinese philosophy begins in the Warring States period, elements of Chinese philosophy have existed for several thousand years; some can be found in the Yi Jing (the Book of Changes), an ancient compendium of divination, which dates back to at least 672 BCE. It was during the Warring States era that what Sima Tan termed the major philosophical schools of China: Confucianism, Legalism, and Taoism, arose, along with philosophies that later fell into obscurity, like Agriculturalism, Mohism, Chinese Naturalism, and the Logicians.Confucian ritual religion
Confucian ritual religion (s 礼教, t 禮教 Lǐjiào, "rites' transmission", also called 名教 Míngjiào, the "names' transmission"), or the Confucian civil religion, defines the civil religion of China. It consists in the state-endorsed ceremonies and sacrifices (cults), held according to Confucian modalities, dedicated to those gods which represent the theologico-political origin of the state itself and the Chinese civilisation. These rituals have undergone a great revitalisation in post-Maoist China creating a public space in which the Chinese state and popular Confucian movements jostle and negotiate with each other.Worship of cosmological gods and of Confucius, is carried out regularly at consecrated public spacesConfucius
Confucius ( kən-FEW-shəs; 551–479 BC) was a Chinese philosopher and politician of the Spring and Autumn period.
The philosophy of Confucius, also known as Confucianism, emphasized personal and governmental morality, correctness of social relationships, justice and sincerity. His followers competed successfully with many other schools during the Hundred Schools of Thought era only to be suppressed in favor of the Legalists during the Qin dynasty. Following the victory of Han over Chu after the collapse of Qin, Confucius's thoughts received official sanction and were further developed into a system known in the West as Neo-Confucianism, and later New Confucianism (Modern Neo-Confucianism).
Confucius is traditionally credited with having authored or edited many of the Chinese classic texts including all of the Five Classics, but modern scholars are cautious of attributing specific assertions to Confucius himself. Aphorisms concerning his teachings were compiled in the Analects, but only many years after his death.
Confucius's principles have commonality with Chinese tradition and belief. He championed strong family loyalty, ancestor veneration, and respect of elders by their children and of husbands by their wives, recommending family as a basis for ideal government. He espoused the well-known principle "Do not do unto others what you do not want done to yourself", the Golden Rule. He is also a traditional deity in Daoism.
Confucius is widely considered as one of the most important and influential individuals in shaping human history. His teaching and philosophy greatly impacted people around the world and remains influential today.Cosmology (philosophy)
Philosophical cosmology, philosophy of cosmology or philosophy of cosmos is a discipline directed to the philosophical contemplation of the universe as a totality, and to its conceptual foundations. It draws on several branches of philosophy—metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of physics, philosophy of science, philosophy of mathematics, and on the fundamental theories of physics. The term cosmology was used at least as early as 1730, by German philosopher Christian Wolff, in Cosmologia Generalis.Danish philosophy
Danish philosophy has a long tradition as part of Western philosophy.
Perhaps the most influential Danish philosopher was Søren Kierkegaard, the creator of Christian existentialism, which inspired the philosophical movement of Existentialism. Kierkegaard had a few Danish followers, including Harald Høffding, who later in his life moved on to join the movement of positivism. Among Kierkegaard's other followers include Jean-Paul Sartre who was impressed with Kierkegaard's views on the individual, and Rollo May, who helped create humanistic psychology.Doubting Antiquity School
The Doubting Antiquity School or Yigupai (Chinese: 疑古派; pinyin: Yígǔpài; Wade–Giles: I-ku-p'ai) refers to a group of scholars and writers who show doubts and uncertainty of antiquity in the Chinese academia starting during the New Culture Movement, (mid 1910s and 1920s).
Most of their criticism concerns the authenticity of pre-Qin texts and deals with questions put forward by the past dynastic writers, as well as other subjects. Hu Shi initiated the critical movement, with his pupil Gu Jiegang and his friend Qian Xuantong continuing this school of thought. Their writings also had influence on many western sinologists, including Bernhard Karlgren and Samuel Griffith.
In a more specific way, the Doubting Antiquity School was represented by Gushibian 古史辨 (Debates on Ancient History), the scholarly movement led by Gu Jiegang, centered on the magazine of the same name. Seven issues of the magazine, 1926-1941, contain about 350 essays.
Major critics of the Doubting Antiquity School were historians associated with the Critical Review (Xueheng 學衡), a journal founded in 1922. The historians included Liu Yizheng, Liang Qichao (梁启超), Wang Guowei, Chen Yinque, and Miao Fenglin (繆鳳林).Early modern philosophy
Early modern philosophy (also classical modern philosophy) is a period in the history of philosophy at the beginning or overlapping with the period known as modern philosophy.Harmonious Society
The Harmonious Society (Chinese: 和谐社会; pinyin: héxié shèhuì) has been a socioeconomic vision in China.
The concept of social harmony dates back to ancient China, to the time of Confucius. As a result, the philosophy has also been characterized as a form of New Confucianism. In modern times, it developed into a key feature of General Secretary Hu Jintao's signature ideology of the Scientific Development Concept developed in the mid-2000s, being re-introduced by the Hu–Wen Administration during the 2005 National People's Congress.
The philosophy is recognized as a response to the increasing social injustice and inequality emerging in mainland Chinese society as a result of unchecked economic growth, which has led to social conflict. The governing philosophy was therefore shifted around economic growth to overall societal balance and harmony. Along with a moderately prosperous society, it was set to be one of the national goals for the ruling vanguard Communist Party.
The promotion of the "Harmonious Society" demonstrated that Hu Jintao's ruling philosophy had departed from that of his predecessors. Near the end of his tenure in 2011, Hu appeared to extend the ideology to an international dimension, with a focus on the international peace and cooperation, which is said to lead to a "harmonious world" whereas the administration of Hu's successor, Xi Jinping, has used the philosophy more sparingly, likely in favor of emphasizing his vision of the Chinese Dream.Jiang Qing (Confucian)
Jiang Qing (simplified Chinese: 蒋庆; traditional Chinese: 蔣慶; pinyin: Jiǎng Qìng; born 1953) is a contemporary Chinese Confucian. He is best known for his criticism of New Confucianism, which according to him, deviated from the original Confucian principles and is overly influenced by Western liberal democracy. He proposes an alternative path for China: Constitutional Confucianism, also known as Political Confucianism, or Institutional Confucianism, through the trilateral parliament framework.
He believes that China's ongoing political and social problems are to be solved by the revival of and commitment to authentic Confucianism in China. He also argues that Confucian materials should replace the Marxist curriculum taught in universities and government party schools.List of Confucianists
This is a partial list of people who follow Confucianism, selected for their influence on that belief, or for their fame in other areas.Neo-Confucianism
Neo-Confucianism (Chinese: 宋明理學; pinyin: Sòng-Míng lǐxué, often shortened to lixue 理學) is a moral, ethical, and metaphysical Chinese philosophy influenced by Confucianism, and originated with Han Yu and Li Ao (772–841) in the Tang Dynasty, and became prominent during the Song and Ming dynasties.
Neo-Confucianism could have been an attempt to create a more rationalist and secular form of Confucianism by rejecting superstitious and mystical elements of Taoism and Buddhism that had influenced Confucianism during and after the Han Dynasty. Although the neo-Confucianists were critical of Taoism and Buddhism, the two did have an influence on the philosophy, and the neo-Confucianists borrowed terms and concepts. However, unlike the Buddhists and Taoists, who saw metaphysics as a catalyst for spiritual development, religious enlightenment, and immortality, the neo-Confucanists used metaphysics as a guide for developing a rationalist ethical philosophy.New Text Confucianism
New Text Confucianism (simplified Chinese: 今文经学; traditional Chinese: 今文經學) is a school of thought in Confucianism that was based on Confucian classics recompiled in the early Han dynasty by Confucians who survived the burning of books and burying of scholars during the Qin dynasty. The survivors wrote the classics in the contemporary characters of their time, and these texts were later dubbed as "New Text". New Text school attained prominence in the Western Han dynasty and became the official interpretation for Confucianism, which was adopted as the official ideology by Emperor Wu of Han. Represented by Confucians such as Dong Zhongshu, this school advocated a holistic interpretation of Confucian classics and viewed Confucius as a charismatic, visionary prophet, a sage who deserved the Mandate of Heaven but did not attain kingship due to circumstances. The school competed with Old Text Confucianism in the later Han dynasty and its dominance waned as the latter became the new orthodoxy. The school fell into obscurity during the chaotic period after the fall of the Han dynasty and remained so until late Ming dynasty in the 17th century.
The school was reinvigorated by a group of scholars who were dissatisfied with the popular Neo-Confucianism at the time in the late Ming dynasty. The movement gained momentum in eighteenth century with the rise of the Changzhou School of Thought. It became a major intellectual trend in Chinese philology and political ideology. As formulated by B. Elman, it was intended to offer a solution to the crisis of confidence between the Chinese state and its gentry constituency in the transition from the Qianlong era to the Jiaqing era in the Qing dynasty.School of Names
The Logicians or School of Names (Chinese: 名家; pinyin: Míngjiā) was a school of Chinese philosophy that grew out of Mohism during the Warring States period in 479–221 BCE. It is also sometimes called the School of Forms and Names (Chinese: 形名家; pinyin: Xíngmíngjiā; Wade–Giles: Hsing2-ming2-chia1). Deng Xi has been named its founder.School of Naturalists
The School of Naturalists or the School of Yin-yang (陰陽家/阴阳家; Yīnyángjiā; Yin-yang-chia; "School of Yin-Yang") was a Warring States era philosophy that synthesized the concepts of yin-yang and the Five Elements.Tang Chun-i
Tang Chun-I or Tang Junyi (Chinese: 唐君毅, 17 January 1909 – 2 February 1978) was a Chinese philosopher, who was one of the leading exponents of New Confucianism. He was influenced by Plato and Hegel as well as by earlier Confucian thought.Turkish philosophy
Turkish philosophy has long been affected by Islam and the country's proximity to Greece and ancient Greek philosophy.Yangism
Yangism (Chinese: 楊朱學派; pinyin: Yángzhūxuépài) was a philosophical school founded by Yang Zhu, existent during the Warring States period (475 BCE – 221 BCE), that believed that human actions are and should be based on self-interest. The school has been described by sinologists as an early form of psychological and ethical egoism. The main focus of the Yangists was on the concept of xing, or human nature, a term later incorporated by Mencius into Confucianism. No documents directly authored by the Yangists have been discovered yet, and all that is known of the school comes from the comments of rival philosophers, specifically in the Chinese texts Huainanzi, Lüshi Chunqiu, Mengzi, and possibly the Liezi and Zhuangzi. The philosopher Mencius claimed that Yangism once rivaled Confucianism and Mohism, although the veracity of this claim remains controversial among sinologists. Because Yangism had largely faded into obscurity by the time that Sima Qian compiled his Shiji, the school was not included as one of the Hundred Schools of Thought.
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