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[Vol.32 (2019)] Modern Times and Modern Rites
Author : Owen Flanagan
Date : 19.09.02
Page : 17-40
Keyword : Confucianism, li 禮, liberalism, manners, rites, rituals, zhi 治
Abstract :


Classical Confucianism says that ritual propriety (li 禮) is necessary to
bind society and produce a harmonious and peaceful social order. Secular
liberal moral and political theories are skeptical that shared manners,
etiquette, rituals, and rites are necessary to bind society and produce intrastate
harmony and peace. Liberalism, especially liberalism adapted to
cosmopolitan and multicultural states, proposes that an overlapping
consensus about values can be sufficient to bind a people, without shared
norms governing li. It might be true that shared values can bind a liberal
multi-culture without shared li, while at the same time there are costs
associated with doing without li, or abiding a plural li. Some philosophers
associate li with conservative social orders and are glad to see the li dissipate
with the recession of such orders. Others think that we need to
recognize the costs associated with li-lessness, and that liberal, multicultural
orders have, and/or are in need of creating or recreating li in
order to sustain a harmonious common life. This paper revisits this
debate and explores the question of whether and how Chinese Confucian
philosophy sheds light on the normative contribution li makes to human
life, and whether and to what degree this depends on whether the culture
or nation state is liberal or liberal and multicultural. This will enable us to
evaluate whether we in the North Atlantic should want more, less, or none
of li.


Attachments : Owen Flanagan 17-40.pdf


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