File Download
  Links for fulltext
     (May Require Subscription)
Supplementary

postgraduate thesis: From sage-kings to Confucian Republic : the political theories of 'jiaohua'

TitleFrom sage-kings to Confucian Republic : the political theories of 'jiaohua'
Authors
Issue Date2014
PublisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)
Citation
Chan, W. E. [陳永政]. (2014). From sage-kings to Confucian Republic : the political theories of 'jiaohua'. (Thesis). University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.5353/th_b5334848
AbstractConfucianism as a tradition has been from the beginning tightly intertwined with politics. It is agreed among contemporary scholars that Confucians advocate good governance in the form of benevolent politics (ren zheng), which seeks to provide the people with basic security and sustenance. Less attention, however, has been devoted to another aspect of politics also of great importance to ancient Confucians — the general moral cultivation of the people or jiaohua. This thesis returns the limelight as it were on this significant aspect of Confucianism. The most basic assumption of Confucian jiaohua perhaps can be summarized in one slogan: 'any human being can be a sage.' Yet throughout its long tradition and development, Confucians' confidence in the potential of humanity in each man has been in stark contrast with their prevalent pessimism with the moral potential of the ‘people’ as a whole. Volumes after volumes of philosophical work celebrating human virtues end up justifying a socio-political hierarchy that consigns most fellow human beings to a category without any hope of moral development beyond minimal decency. The people are to be led by the virtuous elites, supposedly always the absolute minority. Thus even as the image of the Confucian Man epitomizes the summation of human virtues, in practice, with the exception of very few elites, most people are treated with far less respect. For an intellectual and political tradition like Confucianism, which prides itself for bringing moral betterment to humanity, such a position is ironic to say the least. In this thesis, through a philosophical reconstruction of the components relevant to jiaohua in Confucian classics, I contend that this seemingly contradictory, even hypocritical, position of Confucianism can be explained in terms of ideal and non-ideal theory. While Confucians sincerely believe that in each person's humanity a Sage resides, they understand also that it is too ideal for everyone to become a Sage in the real world. Unless they make compromises in response to the harsh constraints, the ideal of human development is simply unachievable, and therefore irrelevant. The seemingly oppressive socio-political hierarchy, I argue, is in fact an attempt in response to the non-ideal reality, in order to move the society closer to the ideal of general human development. This attempt, however, has in general failed due to internal systemic defects which derail it from the course of morally improving the people to become complacent with a well-entrenched hierarchy, thus betraying its own ideals. If Confucianism is to revive its relevance in the modern world, it is in want of a new non-ideal theory that can help it achieve its ideal goals. I contend that republicanism in the western tradition can be adopted as one such non-ideal theory, in both advancing the ideals of Confucianism and resolving the long-standing prolems within the tradition. It is perhaps the uncanniness of history that the very collapse of the traditional socio-political hierarchy endorsed by Confucianism may in fact be an unprecedented opportunity for its revival by adopting a new non-ideal manifestation — a Confucian republic.
DegreeDoctor of Philosophy
SubjectPolitical ethics - China
Dept/ProgramPolitics and Public Administration
Persistent Identifierhttp://hdl.handle.net/10722/221237

 

DC FieldValueLanguage
dc.contributor.authorChan, Wing-ching, Elton-
dc.contributor.author陳永政-
dc.date.accessioned2015-11-06T23:11:51Z-
dc.date.available2015-11-06T23:11:51Z-
dc.date.issued2014-
dc.identifier.citationChan, W. E. [陳永政]. (2014). From sage-kings to Confucian Republic : the political theories of 'jiaohua'. (Thesis). University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.5353/th_b5334848-
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/10722/221237-
dc.description.abstractConfucianism as a tradition has been from the beginning tightly intertwined with politics. It is agreed among contemporary scholars that Confucians advocate good governance in the form of benevolent politics (ren zheng), which seeks to provide the people with basic security and sustenance. Less attention, however, has been devoted to another aspect of politics also of great importance to ancient Confucians — the general moral cultivation of the people or jiaohua. This thesis returns the limelight as it were on this significant aspect of Confucianism. The most basic assumption of Confucian jiaohua perhaps can be summarized in one slogan: 'any human being can be a sage.' Yet throughout its long tradition and development, Confucians' confidence in the potential of humanity in each man has been in stark contrast with their prevalent pessimism with the moral potential of the ‘people’ as a whole. Volumes after volumes of philosophical work celebrating human virtues end up justifying a socio-political hierarchy that consigns most fellow human beings to a category without any hope of moral development beyond minimal decency. The people are to be led by the virtuous elites, supposedly always the absolute minority. Thus even as the image of the Confucian Man epitomizes the summation of human virtues, in practice, with the exception of very few elites, most people are treated with far less respect. For an intellectual and political tradition like Confucianism, which prides itself for bringing moral betterment to humanity, such a position is ironic to say the least. In this thesis, through a philosophical reconstruction of the components relevant to jiaohua in Confucian classics, I contend that this seemingly contradictory, even hypocritical, position of Confucianism can be explained in terms of ideal and non-ideal theory. While Confucians sincerely believe that in each person's humanity a Sage resides, they understand also that it is too ideal for everyone to become a Sage in the real world. Unless they make compromises in response to the harsh constraints, the ideal of human development is simply unachievable, and therefore irrelevant. The seemingly oppressive socio-political hierarchy, I argue, is in fact an attempt in response to the non-ideal reality, in order to move the society closer to the ideal of general human development. This attempt, however, has in general failed due to internal systemic defects which derail it from the course of morally improving the people to become complacent with a well-entrenched hierarchy, thus betraying its own ideals. If Confucianism is to revive its relevance in the modern world, it is in want of a new non-ideal theory that can help it achieve its ideal goals. I contend that republicanism in the western tradition can be adopted as one such non-ideal theory, in both advancing the ideals of Confucianism and resolving the long-standing prolems within the tradition. It is perhaps the uncanniness of history that the very collapse of the traditional socio-political hierarchy endorsed by Confucianism may in fact be an unprecedented opportunity for its revival by adopting a new non-ideal manifestation — a Confucian republic.-
dc.languageeng-
dc.publisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)-
dc.relation.ispartofHKU Theses Online (HKUTO)-
dc.rightsThe author retains all proprietary rights, (such as patent rights) and the right to use in future works.-
dc.rightsCreative Commons: Attribution 3.0 Hong Kong License-
dc.subject.lcshPolitical ethics - China-
dc.titleFrom sage-kings to Confucian Republic : the political theories of 'jiaohua'-
dc.typePG_Thesis-
dc.identifier.hkulb5334848-
dc.description.thesisnameDoctor of Philosophy-
dc.description.thesislevelDoctoral-
dc.description.thesisdisciplinePolitics and Public Administration-
dc.description.naturepublished_or_final_version-
dc.identifier.doi10.5353/th_b5334848-

Export via OAI-PMH Interface in XML Formats


OR


Export to Other Non-XML Formats