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Religion Library: Confucianism


Written by: Jeffrey Richey

Performers dressed as Confucian disciples, 2008 Summer Olympics opening ceremonies, Beijing, China: Public DomainIn the modern era, in which governments no longer require Confucian commitments from their civil servants, the most visible Confucian leaders are to be found among Chinese university professors of philosophy. The victory of the Communist forces in China's mid-20th century civil war led to the self-exile of many Confucian intellectuals to Taiwan and Hong Kong. In these redoubts of Confucianism, philosophers such as Xiong Shili (1885-1968) and his students Tang Junyi (1909-1978), Mou Zongsan (1909-1995), and Xu Fuguan (1904-1982) devoted their personal and professional energies to reinventing Confucianism as a force to be reckoned with in the age of democracy and science. Some of these thinkers' students, such as the Harvard University professor Tu Weiming (b. 1940), became active in promoting Confucianism as a partner in global interreligious dialogue as well as in the environmental and human rights movements. To a great extent, Confucianism as an organized tradition now is more intellectually and spiritually alive outside of China than in China, and the center of Confucian activity largely is located in academic institutions (both in China and overseas), which enjoy a great deal of prestige among Chinese communities.


Study Questions:
     1.     Traditionally, which persons were seen as model Confucian leaders?
     2.     How did Wang Yangming exemplify Confucian leadership?
     3.     Who provides leadership for Confucian communities today?


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