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Confucian PerfectionismA Political Philosophy for Modern Times$
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Joseph Chan

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780691158617

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691158617.001.0001

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Interplay between the Political Ideal and Reality

Interplay between the Political Ideal and Reality

(p.1) Introduction Interplay between the Political Ideal and Reality
Confucian Perfectionism

Joseph Chan

Princeton University Press

This introductory chapter discusses how Confucian political philosophy can be modernized and enrich liberal democratic theories and political practices. It examines Confucian political thought from a perspective that explores the intricate interplay between political ideal and reality. Political philosophy has a dual character: viewed as a philosophical field of study, it searches for an ideal social and political order that expresses the best aspects of humanity; viewed as a political field of study, it aims to present an understanding of the real world and give principled guidance as to how people should act. The challenge of such two-track theorizing is twofold: to demonstrate the attractiveness of the ideal even though it is unlikely to work in the real world, and to show that a feasible nonideal conception of order still tallies with the ideal conception.

Keywords:   Confucian political thought, political philosophy, democratic theories, political ideals, reality

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