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[Vol.31 (2019)] “The golden rule of our Saviour. . . had been inculcated by Confucius, almost in the same words, fou
Author : LEE Junghwan
Date : 19.03.05
Page : 75-116
Keyword : the golden rule, shu 恕, universality, superiority, Christianity, Confucianism, James Legge
Abstract :

On what grounds did the terse precept in the New Testament rise to the “golden” rule in the sense of the supreme and universal moral principle in 17th-century England? What kind of impact did the discovery of its Confucian counterpart, shu ,more specifically, the awareness of the fact that “the golden rule of our Saviour. . . had been inculcated by Confucius, almost in the same words, four centuries before,”bring to the European Christian societies, and how did they respond to it?

The present study is to answer these questions by exploring the European history of the golden rule, especially, that of England, from its initial rise in the 17th century to the frustrations, controversies, and divisions that the discovery of its Confucian counterpart brought about in the 19th century, when the English commercial and missionary activities in China also sharply escalated. It argues that whereas the initial springboard for the rise of the golden rule consisted of its all-encompassing, universal nature, its authority and validity was significantly undermined, partially, by the challenge of modern philosophy and, partially, by the recognition of the precedency of Confucius’ formulations. Consequently, upon entering the 19th century, the dominant focus of discussion shifted from universality and supremacy on the grounds of the theory of the natural law to discrimination and superiority out of sectarian concerns. Additionally, a fresh light is thrown on the Christian missionary motives underlying the monumental works of James Legge, including his opinions on Confucianism. A plausible explanation is also provided for how his views on the Confucian golden rule contributed to alleviating the perplexity of the Christian societies of the time through, allegedly, proving the superiority of the Christian golden rule over its Confucian counterpart and thus defending the exclusive authority of Christianity.

Attachments : LEE Junghwan(75-116).pdf

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