Confucian Perfectionism: A Political Philosophy for Modern Times

Princeton University Press
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Since the very beginning, Confucianism has been troubled by a serious gap between its political ideals and the reality of societal circumstances. Contemporary Confucians must develop a viable method of governance that can retain the spirit of the Confucian ideal while tackling problems arising from nonideal modern situations. The best way to meet this challenge, Joseph Chan argues, is to adopt liberal democratic institutions that are shaped by the Confucian conception of the good rather than the liberal conception of the right.

Confucian Perfectionism examines and reconstructs both Confucian political thought and liberal democratic institutions, blending them to form a new Confucian political philosophy. Chan decouples liberal democratic institutions from their popular liberal philosophical foundations in fundamental moral rights, such as popular sovereignty, political equality, and individual sovereignty. Instead, he grounds them on Confucian principles and redefines their roles and functions, thus mixing Confucianism with liberal democratic institutions in a way that strengthens both. Then he explores the implications of this new yet traditional political philosophy for fundamental issues in modern politics, including authority, democracy, human rights, civil liberties, and social justice.



Confucian Perfectionism critically reconfigures the Confucian political philosophy of the classical period for the contemporary era.

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About the author

Joseph Chan is a professor in the Department of Politics and Public Administration at the University of Hong Kong.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
Dec 22, 2013
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Pages
272
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ISBN
9781400848690
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Language
English
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Genres
Philosophy / Political
Political Science / History & Theory
Religion / Confucianism
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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As China continues to transform itself, many assume that the nation will eventually move beyond communism and adopt a Western-style democracy. But could China develop a unique form of government based on its own distinct traditions? Jiang Qing--China's most original, provocative, and controversial Confucian political thinker--says yes. In this book, he sets out a vision for a Confucian constitutional order that offers a compelling alternative to both the status quo in China and to a Western-style liberal democracy. A Confucian Constitutional Order is the most detailed and systematic work on Confucian constitutionalism to date.

Jiang argues against the democratic view that the consent of the people is the main source of political legitimacy. Instead, he presents a comprehensive way to achieve humane authority based on three sources of political legitimacy, and he derives and defends a proposal for a tricameral legislature that would best represent the Confucian political ideal. He also puts forward proposals for an institution that would curb the power of parliamentarians and for a symbolic monarch who would embody the historical and transgenerational identity of the state. In the latter section of the book, four leading liberal and socialist Chinese critics--Joseph Chan, Chenyang Li, Wang Shaoguang, and Bai Tongdong--critically evaluate Jiang's theories and Jiang gives detailed responses to their views.



A Confucian Constitutional Order provides a new standard for evaluating political progress in China and enriches the dialogue of possibilities available to this rapidly evolving nation. This book will fascinate students and scholars of Chinese politics, and is essential reading for anyone concerned about China's political future.

The rise of China could be the most important political development of the twenty-first century. What will China look like in the future? What should it look like? And what will China's rise mean for the rest of world? This book, written by China's most influential foreign policy thinker, sets out a vision for the coming decades from China's point of view.

In the West, Yan Xuetong is often regarded as a hawkish policy advisor and enemy of liberal internationalists. But a very different picture emerges from this book, as Yan examines the lessons of ancient Chinese political thought for the future of China and the development of a "Beijing consensus" in international relations. Yan, it becomes clear, is neither a communist who believes that economic might is the key to national power, nor a neoconservative who believes that China should rely on military might to get its way. Rather, Yan argues, political leadership is the key to national power, and morality is an essential part of political leadership. Economic and military might are important components of national power, but they are secondary to political leaders who act in accordance with moral norms, and the same holds true in determining the hierarchy of the global order.


Providing new insights into the thinking of one of China's leading foreign policy figures, this book will be essential reading for anyone interested in China's rise or in international relations.


In a new preface, Yan reflects on his arguments in light of recent developments in Chinese foreign policy, including the selection of a new leader in 2012.

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