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[Vol.29 (2018)] From “Return to Kang Youwei” to “Back to Mou Zongsan”: A Study on the Political Confucianism of Main
Author : WEN Bifang
Date : 19.03.25
Page : 171-184
Keyword : Jiang Qing, Chen Ming, political Confucianism, Mou Zongsan, self-negation of innate moral consciousness
Abstract :


Since the beginning of the new millennium, in Chinese philosophy circles, there has been a trend towards deconstructing the enlightenment legacy and denying the legitimacy of modern universal values. This trend is associated in particular with Jiang Qing and Chen Ming, two prominent representatives of so-called Mainland New Confucianism. Jiang Qing criticizes such values of modernity as democracy and freedom for being negative universal values. He maintains that the superior universal value is political rule according to the ancient notion of the Kingly Way, based on which he proposes a set of formulations. In more recent years, Chen Ming’s slogan has been the call to return to Kang Youwei. Chen insists that it is necessary to transcend the narrative of revolution and the vision of the enlightenment, to return to Kang Youwei’s concept of national and state construction. In Chen’s opinion, the construction of the modern state and nation takes precedence over any values and should be ranked first; modern universal values such as fairness, justice, freedom, democracy, and constitutionalism are of secondary importance, or even trivial. On the other hand, contemporary Neo-Confucianism scholars such as Mou Zongsan, Tang Junyi, and Xu Fuguan are much more willing to accept modern values like science and democracy. They try to harmonize Chinese culture and modern values to get them to advance each other by drawing on the resources of Chinese traditional culture. In this respect, Mou Zongsan proposes what he calls the “self-negation of innate moral consciousness,” in order to sustain Chinese culture. This does not mean that he upholds Western values blindly and ignores traditional Chinese culture, as Mainland New Confucian critics accuse him. Therefore, it is better to re-understand, digest, and absorb the achievements obtained by Contemporary Neo-Confucians such as Mou Zongsan, rather than to return to Kang Youwei blindly and ignore modern universal values.

 

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