Dao

, 8:383 | Cite as

Self-Transformation and Civil Society: Lockean vs. Confucian

Original Paper

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.

Keywords

Civil society Confucius Li Locke Self-control Self-transformation 

References

  1. Alford, Fred. 1991. The Self in Social Theory: A Psychoanalytic Account of Its Construction in Plato, Hobbes, Locke, Rawls, and Rousseau. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  2. _____. 2000. “Arete, Rights, and Ren.” In Confucian Democracy, Why & How. Ed. by Hahm Chaibong and David L. Hall. Seoul: Jeongtong-gwa Hyundae.Google Scholar
  3. Ames, Roger T. and Henry Rosemont Jr. 1998. The Analects of Confucius: A Philosophical Translation. New York: Ballantine Books.Google Scholar
  4. Arendt, Hannah. 1958. The Human Condition. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  5. Berkowitz, Peter. 1999. Virtues and the Making of Modern Liberalism. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Brooks, E. Bruce and A. Taeko Brooks. 1998. The Original Analects: Sayings of Confucius and His Successors. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Chan, Joseph. 2003. “Giving Priority to the Worst Off: A Confucian Perspective.” In Confucianism for the Modern World. Ed. by Daniel A. Bell and Hahm Chaibong. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Chan, Sin Yee. 2000. “Can Shu be the One Word That Serves as the Guiding Principle of Caring Action?” Philosophy East and West 50: 507–524.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. _____. 2006. “The Confucian Notion of Jing (Respect).” Philosophy East and West 56: 229–252.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Chan, Wing-tsit. 1955. “The Evolution of the Confucian Concept Jen.” Philosophy East and West 4: 295–319.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Creel, H. G. 1960. Confucius and the Chinese Way. New York: Harper & Row.Google Scholar
  12. De Bary, Wm. Theodore. 1983. The Liberal Tradition in China. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  13. _____. 1988. East Asian Civilizations: A Dialogue in Five Stages. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  14. _____. 1998. Asian Values and Human Rights: A Confucian Communitarian Perspective. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  15. Dunn, John. 1969. The Political Thought of John Locke: An Historical Account of the Argument of the ‘Two Treatises of Government’. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  16. _____. 2001. “The Contemporary Political Significance of John Locke’s Conception of Civil Society.” In Civil Society: History and Possibilities. Ed. by Sudipta Kaviraj and Sunil Khilnani. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  17. Fan, Ruiping. 2004. “Is a Confucian Family-Oriented Civil Society Possible?” In The Politics of Affective Relations. Ed. by Hahm Chaihark and Daniel A. Bell. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books.Google Scholar
  18. Fingarette, Herbert. 1972. Confucius: The Secular as Sacred. New York: Harper & Row.Google Scholar
  19. Galston, William A. 1991. Liberal Purposes: Goods, Virtues, and Diversity in the Liberal State. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  20. Gellner, Ernest. 1995. Conditions of Liberty: Civil Society and its Rivals. New York: Penguin.Google Scholar
  21. Howard, Marc M. 2003. The Weakness of Civil Society in Post-communist Europe. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  22. Hsiao, Kung-chuan. 1979. A History of Chinese Political Thought: From the Beginnings to the Sixth Century A.D. Frederick W. Mote, trans. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  23. Kaizuka, Shigeki. 2002. Confucius: His Life and Thought. J. Bownas, trans. New York: Dover.Google Scholar
  24. Lai, Karyn. 2006. “Li in the Analects: Training in Moral Competence and the Question of Flexibility.” Philosophy East and West 56: 69–83.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Legge, James. ed. & trans. 1971. Confucian Analects, The Great Learning, and The Doctrine of the Mean. New York: Dover Books.Google Scholar
  26. Lewis, Mark E. 1990. Sanctioned Violence in Early China. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
  27. Li, Chenyang. 2007. “Li as Cultural Grammar: On the Relation between Li and Ren in Confucius’ Analects.” Philosophy East and West 57: 311–329.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Liu, Qingping. 2003. “Filiality versus Sociality and Individuality: On Confucianism as ‘Consanguinitism’.” Philosophy East and West 53: 234–250.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Locke, John. 1975. An Essay Concerning Human Understanding. Ed. by Peter H. Nidditch. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  30. _____. 1980. Second Treatise of Government. Ed. by C. B. Macpherson. Indianapolis: Hackett.Google Scholar
  31. _____. 1999. Some Thoughts Concerning Education. In Some Thoughts Concerning Education and Of the Conduct of the Understanding. Ed. by Ruth W. Grant and Nathan Tarcov. ndianapolis: Hackett.Google Scholar
  32. Lomasky, Loren E. 2002. “Classical Liberalism and Civil Society.” In Alternative Conceptions of Civil Society. Ed. by Simone Chambers and Will Kymlicka. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  33. Macedo, Stephen. 1990. Liberal Virtues: Citizenship, Virtue, and Community in Liberal Constitutionalism. Oxford: Oxford University pressGoogle Scholar
  34. Macpherson, C. B. 1962. The Political Theory of Possessive Individualism: Hobbes to Locke. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  35. Madsen, Richard. 2002. “Confucian Conception of Civil Society.” In Alternative Conceptions of Civil Society. Ed. by Simone Chambers and Will Kymlicka. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  36. Mansfield, Harvey C. 1989. Taming the Prince: The Ambivalence of Modern Executive Power. New York: The Free Press.Google Scholar
  37. Metzger, Thomas A. 2001. “The Western Conception of Civil Society in the Context of Chinese History.” In Civil Society: History and Possibilities. Ed. by Sudipta Kaviraj and Sunil Khilnani. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  38. Miller, Alice. 2002. For Your Own Good: Hidden Cruelty in Child-Rearing and the Roots of Violence. Trans. by H. Hannum and H. Hannum. New York: FSG.Google Scholar
  39. Nosco, Peter. 2002. “Confucian Perspectives on Civil Society and Government.” In Civil Society and Government. Ed. by Nancy L. Rosenblum and Robert C. Post. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  40. Okin, Susan M. 1989. Justice, Gender, and the State. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  41. Pateman, Carol. 1986. The Sexual Contract. Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  42. Pocock, J. G. A. 1971. Politics, Language and Time: Essays on Political Thought and History. New York: Atheneum.Google Scholar
  43. Popenoe, David. 1995. “The Roots of Declining Social Virtue: Family, Community, and the Need for a ‘Natural Communities Policy’.” In Seedbeds of Virtue: Sources of Competence, Character, and Citizenship in American Society. Ed. by Mary A. Glendon and David Blankenhorn. Lanham, MD: Madison Books.Google Scholar
  44. Rappa, Antonio L. and Tan Sor-hoon. 2003. “Political Implications of Confucian Familism.” Asian Philosophy 13: 87–102.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Rawls, John. 1993. Political Liberalism. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  46. Rorty, Richard. 1989. Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  47. Rosenblum, Nancy L. 1998. Membership and Morals: The Personal Use of Pluralism in America. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  48. Rubin, Vitaly A. 1976. Individual and State in Ancient China: Essays on Four Chinese Philosophers. S.I. Levine, trans. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  49. Scalet, Steven and David Schmidtz. 2002. “State, Civil Society, and Classical Liberalism.” In Civil Society and Government. Ed. by Nancy L. Rosenblum and Robert C. Post. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  50. Seligman, Adam B. 1992. The Ideal of Civil Society. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  51. Shapiro, Ian. 1986. The Evolution of Rights in Liberal Theory. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  52. Shils, Edward. 1996. “Reflections on Civil Society and Civility in the Chinese Intellectual Tradition.” In Confucian Traditions in East Asian Modernity: Moral Education and Economic Culture in Japan and the Four Mini-Dragons. Ed. by Tu Weiming. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  53. _____. 1997. The Virtues of Civility: Selected Essays on Liberalism, Tradition, and Civil Society. Ed. by S. Grosby. Indianapolis: Liberty Fund.Google Scholar
  54. Shklar, Judith N. 1984. Ordinary Vices. Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of the Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  55. Shun, Kwong-loi. 1993. “Jen and Li in the Analects.” Philosophy East and West 43: 457–479.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Sullivan, William M. 1995. “Reinstitutionalizing Virtue in Civil Society.” In Seedbeds of Virtue: Sources of Competence, Character, and Citizenship in American Society. Ed. by Mary A. Glendon and David Blankenhorn. Lanham, MD: Madison Books.Google Scholar
  57. Tan, Sor-hoon. 2003. “Can There be a Confucian Civil Society?” In The Moral Circle and the Self: Chinese and Western Approaches. Ed. by Kim-chong Chong, Sor-hoon Tan and C. L. Ten. Chicago, and La Salle, IL: Open Court.Google Scholar
  58. _____. 2004. “From Cannibalism to Empowerment: An Analects-Inspired Attempt to Balance Community and Liberty.” Philosophy East and West 54: 52–70.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Tarcov, Nathan. 1998. Locke’s Education for Liberty. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books.Google Scholar
  60. Taylor, Charles. 1994. “The Politics of Recognition.” In Multiculturalism: Examining the Politics of Recognition. Ed. by Amy Gutmann. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  61. Tőnnies, Ferdinand. 2001. Community and Civil Society. Ed. by Jose Harris & trans. by Jose Harris and Margaret Hollis. Cambridge: Cambridge University.Google Scholar
  62. Tu, Weiming. 1979. Humanity and Self-cultivation. Berkeley: Asian Humanities Press.Google Scholar
  63. Wagner, David. 1998. “Delegitimating the Family: The Classical Liberal Roots.” In The Family, Civil Society and the State. Ed. by Christopher Wolfe. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefiled.Google Scholar
  64. Waley, Arthur. 1989. Introduction. In: The Analects of Confucius. Arthur Waley, trans. New York: Vintage Books.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Public and Social AdministrationCity University of Hong KongKowloonHong Kong

Personalised recommendations