New Philosophy

Buddhism and Confucianism

How is Confucianism relevant to contemporary Western philosophy?

Confucianism is conservative and does not appear to be based on individual autonomy or self-rule; its highest moral principle seems to be social conformity: to this extent it is not easily imported into Western moral, political, and social philosophy.

However, a number of contemporary moral philosophers have found some appeal in the Confucian egalitarian ideal of respect for all beings. Confucianism has also been received as an alternative virtue ethics theory, as well as for its utilitarian/consequentialist notion that correct behavior will maximize happiness.

Such comparative ideas, as well as contemporary interpretations and applications of Confucianism, can be found in the following sources: Bo Mou, Comparative Approaches to Chinese Philosophy (2003), Li-Hsiang Lisa Rosenlee, Confucianism and Women: A Philosophical Interpretation (2006); Philip J. Ivanhoe, Ethics in the Confucian Tradition: The Thought of Mengzi and Wang Yangming (2002); Bryan W. van Norden, Confucius and the Analects: New Essays (2002); and Kwong-loi Shun and David B. Wong, Confucian Ethics: A Comparative Study of Self, Autonomy, and Community (2004).


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