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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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Monism or Limited Government?

Monism or Limited Government?

(p.46) Chapter 2 Monism or Limited Government?
Confucian Perfectionism

Joseph Chan

Princeton University Press

This chapter examines a paradox—although early Confucianism endorses the idea that authority exists to serve the people and that authority cannot be based on arbitrary will, it embraces the notion that authority must be monist and supreme and not be subject to any higher legal constraints. The chapter argues that the notion of monist and supreme authority must be given up if Confucian political thought is to have any potential today. Instead of hoping for the appearance of a godlike figure to assume a position of utmost power, Confucians should adopt a political system that brings together people with flawed but above-average levels of virtue and intelligence in positions of power, allowing them to check among themselves, and also be checked by the people.

Keywords:   Confucianism, authority, monism, Confucian political thought, supreme authority, Confucians

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