Moving Beyond Anti-Confucianism

Confucius said, “If one sees what is hurting justice but dare not stop it, he or she is a coward.” (The Analects 2.24)
Confucius said, “If one sees what is hurting justice but dare not stop it, he or she is a coward.” (The Analects 2.24)

On April 20th, 2:30 - 4:00, Bin Song was interviewed by the distinguished student team (Kobe Yank-Jacobs and Matthias Grenon ) of “Common Thread Podcast” located at the Howard Thurman Center of Boston University. The topic is Ruism (Confucianism): its history, philosophy and relevance to contemporary American society. Together with another interview that the same team did to Dr. Robert Neville, the founding scholar of “Boston Confucianism,” the dialogue created three episodes about “Confucianism,” which you can hear online.

Here are some excerpts from Episode Two, whose major themes include “the compatibility of Confucian values with Western societies, Confucianism in 20th C. China, and what Confucianism has to say about education”:

“Radically anti-Confucian intellectuals in early modern China , who were major proponents of the so-called May Fourth Movement and New Culture Movement, made a big mistake to accuse Confucianism of anything they thought of as bad about traditional Chinese culture. Their logic is as naive as affirming that if one culture has its brilliant philosophy, it should necessarily have the most powerful, aggressive science and technology. ”

“There are three principles for Confucianism to treat the issue of ‘identity’: Harmony without Uniformity 和而不同, Inclusiveness without Discrimination 周而不比, and Sociality without being Partisan 群而不黨. All of these are said by Confucius himself, and they determine that it is really hard for modern Confucianism to organize a church-alike religious institution. By the same token, Confucianism also opposes any kind of ‘identity politics’. ”

“For Confucianism, to be a human is not only a fact, but also a value. In this perspective, the humanities determine the future of humanity. If you get rid of everything of the humanities from universities and colleges, which include philosophy, religious studies, literature, and other liberal arts crucial to the cultivation of people’s ability for critical thinking, this may be a choice made by humanity themselves, but this is also equal to destroying humanity.”

Bin Song is also active in the Facebook group: “Friends from Afar: A Confucianism Group.”

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