Skip to main content

Privacy: A Genealogy in the East and the West

Part of the Economics, Law, and Institutions in Asia Pacific book series (ELIAP)

Abstract

Although a general term used frequently in ordinary language, as well as legal and philosophical discourses, privacy remains an elusive notion. In modern legal discussions, it has been argued that privacy is an integral part of intimacy and autonomy, and goes to the essence of individual dignity, and thus ought to be protected through the creation of a sphere free from outside interference. This normative account of privacy, as Warren and Brandeis proposed in the late nineteenth century, provides moral grounds for the later development of privacy protection in American law. Such recognition of the private sphere, based on the public and private distinction, can be traced up to Aristotle’s distinction between the polis and oikos, which refers to a private domain consisting of the family household that can be thought separate from public interference. However, the question arises: is there an equivalent notion of privacy in the very different context of Chinese culture, and if so, to what extent is it valued and preserved? This chapter discusses the notion of privacy by digging into its rich genealogical origins in ancient Chinese and Western thoughts. This approach is intended to offer a comparative perspective for the analysis and re-examination of notions of privacy, and to further explore the consequential implications of the public/private binary in the later legal developments when privacy came gradually to be recognised not only as a value to be respected, but in modern legal discourses as a right to be protected.

Keywords

  • Privacy
  • Gong and si
  • Public/private dichotomy
  • Right to privacy
  • Genealogy
  • East and West

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Buying options

Chapter
USD   29.95
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • DOI: 10.1007/978-981-10-1995-1_11
  • Chapter length: 13 pages
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
eBook
USD   149.00
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • ISBN: 978-981-10-1995-1
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
Softcover Book
USD   199.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Hardcover Book
USD   279.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)

Notes

  1. 1.

    Stocking (1995).

  2. 2.

    Rosen (2008).

  3. 3.

    McDougall (2002), p. 7.

  4. 4.

    Id. at p. 20.

  5. 5.

    Id.

  6. 6.

    Khayutina (2002), p. 86.

  7. 7.

    Id. at pp. 84, 91.

  8. 8.

    Id.

  9. 9.

    Feuchtwang (2002), p. 218.

  10. 10.

    The original words: “剬私之相背”; see Goldin (2005), pp. 58–65.

  11. 11.

    Xu (2005).

  12. 12.

    Brindley (2013), pp. 6, 7.

  13. 13.

    Id.

  14. 14.

    Id. at p. 7.

  15. 15.

    Id. at pp. 7, 8.

  16. 16.

    Huang (2001).

  17. 17.

    Zarrow (2002), p. 133.

  18. 18.

    Id, p. 138.

  19. 19.

    Id. at p. 139.

  20. 20.

    Id. at p. 141.

  21. 21.

    Weintraub (1997).

  22. 22.

    Id. at p. 11.

  23. 23.

    Arendt (1958).

  24. 24.

    Hobbes (1651).

  25. 25.

    Id.

  26. 26.

    Polanyi (1944).

  27. 27.

    Habermas (1991).

  28. 28.

    Weintraub (1997), p. 18.

  29. 29.

    Gavison (1995).

  30. 30.

    Id.

  31. 31.

    Aristotle (1999).

  32. 32.

    Id.

  33. 33.

    Id.

  34. 34.

    Warren and Brandeis (1890).

  35. 35.

    In this case, the plaintiff was a young lady and the defendant; the flour company made use of her picture in advertisement of the flour without her consent. As the court rejected to recognise the existence of right to privacy , the plaintiff was not entitled to any protection against such conduct.

  36. 36.

    The facts in the Pavesich v. New England Life Insurance Co. are pretty much the same as the case of Roberson. In this case, the defendant was an insurance company, and it made use of plaintiff’s name and picture in its advertisement without the plaintiff’s consent.

  37. 37.

    Prosser (1960).

  38. 38.

    Id.

  39. 39.

    Milton (1996).

  40. 40.

    Zimmerman (1989).

  41. 41.

    Id.

  42. 42.

    Tylor (1871).

References

  • Arendt H (1958) The human condition. University of Chicago Press, Chicago

    Google Scholar 

  • Aristotle (Benjamin Jowett trans) (1999) Politics. Batoche Books, Ontario

    Google Scholar 

  • Axel H, Hans J (eds) Jeremy, G. and Jones, Doris L. (trans). (1991) Communicative action: essays on Jürgen Habermas’s the theory of communicative action. The MIT Press, Cambridge

    Google Scholar 

  • Boas F (1896) The limitations of the comparative method of anthropology. Sci News Ser 4(103):901–908

    Google Scholar 

  • Brindley E (2013) The polarization of the concepts Si (private interest) and Gong (public interest) in early Chinese thought. Asia Major 26(2):1–31

    Google Scholar 

  • Eisenstadt SN, Schluchter W (1998) Introduction: paths to early modernities: a comparative view. Daedalus 127(3):1–18

    Google Scholar 

  • Ewald W (1995) Comparative jurisprudence (II): the logic of legal transplants. Am J Comp Law 43(4):489–510

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Feuchtwang S (eds) (2002) Reflections on privacy in China. In: McDougall BS, Anders H (eds) Chinese concepts of privacy. Brill, Leiden, pp 211–230

    Google Scholar 

  • Gavison R (1995) Feminism and the public/private distinction. Stanford Law Rev 41(1):1–45

    Google Scholar 

  • Gillespie J (2001) Globalisation and legal transplantation: lessons from the past. Deakin Law Rev 6(2):286–311

    Google Scholar 

  • Goldin P (2005) Han Fei’s doctrine of self-interest. In: Goldin PR (ed) After confucius: studies in early Chinese philosophy. University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu, pp 58–65

    Google Scholar 

  • Gross H (1967) The concept of privacy. New York Univ Law Rev 1(42):34–54

    Google Scholar 

  • Hobbes T (1651) Leviathan

    Google Scholar 

  • Huang Z (2001) MingYi Dai Fang Lu [明夷待訪錄] (Waiting for the Dawn). San Min Book co. Ltd, Taipei

    Google Scholar 

  • Khayutina M (2002) Studying the private sphere of the ancient Chinese nobility through the inscriptions on bronze ritual vessels. In: McDougall BS, Anders H (eds) Chinese concept of privacy. Brill, Leiden, pp 81–94

    Google Scholar 

  • Legrand P (1997) Impossibility of legal transplants. Maastricht J Eur Comp Law 4(2):111–124

    Google Scholar 

  • McDougall BS (2002) Particulars and universals: studies on Chinese privacy. In: McDougall BS, Anders H (eds) Chinese concept of privacy. Brill, Leiden, pp 3–24

    Google Scholar 

  • Milton RK (1996) Privacy and the law: a philosophical prelude. Law Contemp Probl 31(2):272–280

    Google Scholar 

  • Nelken D, Feest J (2001) Adapting legal cultures. Hart publishing, Oxford/Portland

    Google Scholar 

  • Parent WA (1983) Recent work on the concept of privacy. Am Philos Q 20(4):341–355

    Google Scholar 

  • Polanyi K (1944) The great transformation. Beacon, Boston

    Google Scholar 

  • Post RC (2000–2001) Three concepts of privacy. Georgetown Law J 89(6):2087–2098

    Google Scholar 

  • Prosser W (1960) Privacy. Calif Law Rev 48(3):383–423

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Rosen L (2008) Law as culture: an invitation. Princeton University Press, Princeton

    Google Scholar 

  • Solove DJ (2008) Understanding privacy. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA

    Google Scholar 

  • Stocking GW Jr (1995) After Tylor, British social anthropology, 1888–1951. University of Wisconsin, Madison

    Google Scholar 

  • Swanson JA (1992) The public and the private in Aristotle’s political philosophy. Cornell University Press, Ithaca

    Google Scholar 

  • Tylor EB (1871) Primitive culture: researches into the development of mythology, philosophy, religion, art, and custom. John Murray Ltd., London

    Google Scholar 

  • Wakeman F Jr (1993) The civil society and public sphere debate: western reflections on Chinese political culture. Mod China 19(2):108–138

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Wakeman F Jr (1998) Boundaries of the public sphere in Ming and Qing China. Daedalus 127(3):167–189

    Google Scholar 

  • Warren SD, Brandeis LD (1890) The right to privacy. Harv Law Rev 4(5):193–220

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Weintraub J (1997) The theory and politics of the public/private distinction. In: Weintraub J, Kumar K (eds) Public and private in thought and practice – perspectives on a grand dichotomy, 1st edn. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, pp 1–38

    Google Scholar 

  • Xu S (2005) Shuowen Jiezi [說文解字] (explaining graphs and analyzing characters). Tianjin Ancient Books Publishing House, Tianjin

    Google Scholar 

  • Zarrow P (2002) The origins of modern Chinese concepts of privacy: notes on social structure and moral discourse. In: McDougall BS, Anders H (eds) Chinese concept of privacy. Brill, Leiden, pp 121–146

    Google Scholar 

  • Zimmerman DL (1989) False light invasion of privacy: the light that failed. 64 New York Univ Law Rev 64:364

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Chih-hsing Ho .

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

Copyright information

© 2016 Springer Science+Business Media Singapore

About this chapter

Cite this chapter

Ho, Ch. (2016). Privacy: A Genealogy in the East and the West. In: Lo, Cf., Li, N., Lin, Ty. (eds) Legal Thoughts between the East and the West in the Multilevel Legal Order. Economics, Law, and Institutions in Asia Pacific. Springer, Singapore. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-10-1995-1_11

Download citation

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-10-1995-1_11

  • Published:

  • Publisher Name: Springer, Singapore

  • Print ISBN: 978-981-10-1994-4

  • Online ISBN: 978-981-10-1995-1

  • eBook Packages: Law and CriminologyLaw and Criminology (R0)