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Confucianism as a World ReligionContested Histories and Contemporary Realities$
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Anna Sun

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780691155579

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691155579.001.0001

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To Become a Confucian

To Become a Confucian

A New Conceptual Framework

(p.120) Chapter 6 To Become a Confucian
Confucianism as a World Religion

Anna Sun

Princeton University Press

This chapter offers a new conceptual framework for addressing the empirical question of who the Confucians are in China. It suggests a three-tier definition that considers Confucian religious ritual practice along with ancestral worship, as well as Confucian spiritual exercise and social rituals. First, Confucianism is seen as one of the major world religions today, both in the popular imagination and in academic work. Second, the definition of religion is produced by a consensus between communities of practitioners and scholars, and it is a historical product rather than an ahistorical, normative concept. Finally, because of the nonstatic nature of both the definition of religion and the ideas associated with Confucianism, it is entirely plausible for Confucianism to be understood as a religion by both practitioners and scholars in a given social and historical context.

Keywords:   Confucianism, Confucians, religious rituals, ancestral worship, social rituals, world religions, spiritual exercise

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