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Against Political EqualityThe Confucian Case$
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Tongdong Bai

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780691195995

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691195995.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM PRINCETON SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.princeton.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Princeton University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in PRSO for personal use.date: 17 May 2022

Why Confucianism? Which Confucianism?

Why Confucianism? Which Confucianism?

(p.1) 1 Why Confucianism? Which Confucianism?
Against Political Equality

Tongdong Bai

Princeton University Press

This chapter argues that early Confucians were revolutionaries with a conservative facade. According to this “progressive” reading, they tried to solve issues of modernity not by rejecting modernity but by embracing it, although some of their locutions seem to resonate with those widely used in the “good old days,” and they were not as resolute as thinkers from some other schools. Moreover, not accepting early Confucianism as a moral metaphysics, the chapter also rejects the reading that early Confucians tried to solve political issues by improving on people’s morals alone. Rather, the premise of its reading is that they apprehended the political concerns as primary and the ethical ones as secondary, a byproduct of their political concerns. They were concerned with reconstructing a political order and were thus open to the idea of institutional design, even though they themselves did not discuss it in detail. To take a continuous reading of early Confucianism by asking about which political institutions they would have in mind, especially in today’s political reality, would not be alien to Confucianism.

Keywords:   Confucianism, early Confucianism, philosophical approach, early Confucian texts, modern political philosophy, liberal democracies, Chinese history

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