井底之蛙

8/16/2005

Define “Successful”

Filed under: — Jonathan Dresner @ 5:37 pm

There are signs that China’s government is going to resurrect Confucianism as a source of social ethics and harmony [via Simon World]. It was, after all, the dominant social ideology for centuries, even millenia (though not exactly consecutively), and it retains a great deal of power in Chinese society (though, as the article has pointed out, hardly nobody’s been formally taught this stuff for some time) and is indeed a great system of social ethics in a fundamentally hierarchical society.

But it does beg the question: to what extent did Confucianism work better than less formal systems of social ethics? Is it something to go back to because it was effective and adaptable, or is it just “there” and available for rhetorical recycling without requiring a strong committment to the principles of reciprocality, responsibility and compassionate effectiveness that it should entail?

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