China's New Confucianism: Politics and Everyday Life in a Changing Society / Edition 1

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Overview

"China's New Confucianism is a lively, informed, and very insightful look at modern China. Daniel A. Bell has an established reputation as an academic analyst. With this book he has accomplished something rarer and more impressive: combining his scholarship in an effortless way with keen observations of daily life, from the sports field to the karaoke bar to the classroom. He is the first to say that no one book, nor even a lifetime's experience, equips an observer to 'understand' China fully. But his book will give almost any reader a better understanding of the energy and contradictions of this country."—James Fallows, correspondent for Atlantic Monthly

"As the first Western scholar to become full-time faculty in political philosophy at one of China's most prestigious universities, Daniel Bell has a unique, insightful, and rich perspective on the Confucian values in contemporary Chinese politics and people's daily lives. The groundbreaking yet effective arguments in this book will elicit much discussion. I enthusiastically support and endorse this book without reservation."—Chen Lai, Peking University

"Daniel Bell is a Westerner who lives in China, speaks Chinese, and teaches in a Chinese university. He writes about his adopted country with exactly the right mix of appreciation and critical distance. His accounts of academic and domestic life, sex and sport, equality and hierarchy, and Marx and Confucius are, all of them, wonderfully illuminating."—Michael Walzer, Institute for Advanced Study

"Daniel Bell has written a broadly accessible book that shows another side of the complex reality that is contemporary China. China's New Confucianism is a book that anyone with a deep interest in China can sink their teeth into, learn from, be challenged by, and thoroughly enjoy."—Stephen C. Angle, Wesleyan University

"Daniel Bell is without peer among contemporary political and social philosophers working on traditional and contemporary China. Full of insight, his new book will stimulate significant discussion. Blending theoretical sophistication, broad command of the best literature, keen observation of contemporary events, and candid personal anecdote, it deserves a great deal of attention, not only in Western countries, but throughout East Asia as well."—Philip J. Ivanhoe, City University of Hong Kong

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This revival is the subject of political philosopher Daniel A. Bell's trenchant and surprisingly personal China's New Confucianism. Bell was the first foreigner hired since the Cultural Revolution to teach humanities at Beijing's prestigious Tsinghua University; one of the few Western professors in the country, he enjoys a unique outsider/insider perspective."—Michael Levitin, Los Angeles Times Book Review

"This interesting and insightful volume by Bell offers an insider's account of a rapidly changing society in China and seeks to debunk a variety of crude stereotypes of Confucians."—S.K. Ma, Choice

"Bell, who teaches politics at Beijing's crack Tsinghua University, is well placed to comment on changing Chinese attitudes. He detects signs of a reviving interest in, and practice of, pre-communist traditions, whether in the lecture hall, in the streets, or inside karaoke bars...China's New Confucianism wisely refrains from any grand schematic overview. Rather, this is an informed and thoughtful interim response to an important contemporary trend."—Justin Wintle, The Independent

"In [China's New Confucianism], [Bell] talks about such subjects as why Communist Party leaders invoke centuries-old Confucian values now? Why do senior communist leaders dye their hair black? Why the Chinese view that human rights should not have priority over national sovereignty? The adventurous professor even talks about why sexual intercourse with karaoke bar girls in China is often preceded by singing a duet. Bell draws on various social scenes in today's China and provides a Confucian explanation...In the book, Bell offers his personal observations on some Western 'misunderstandings' about China."—Sunny Lee, Asia Times Online

"Daniel Bell has been able to breathe fresh life into an ancient and one largely-dismissed subject—and by doing so, has shown readers the possible benefits of the reintroduction of parts of Confucianism into modern Chinese society. China's New Confucianism is a great reminder of the wisdom—as well as some of the prejudices—of previous generations of thinkers and leaders."—Kit Gillet, China International Business

"[C]hina's New Confucianism is certainly provocative. . . . Mr. Bell succeeds in using Confucianism to explicate everyday phenomena, but he is most convincing in political theory."—April Rabkin, Far Eastern Economic Review

"This is an informative and entertaining book on the problems and challenges of contemporary China. . . . [I]t is learned, sensible, and heartfelt."—On-cho Ng, Centre Daily Times

"China's New Confucianism stands out for not conforming to a preordained Western conceptual framework. The personal anecdotes are interesting and Bell displays cultural sensitivity throughout."—Lanxin Xiang, Survival

"Daniel Bell is winningly realistic about the difficulties involved in adapting Confucian practices to a more egalitarian world and uniquely capable as a scholar in this area. . . . Bell's scholarly discussions . . . draw on a subtle and wide-ranging grasp of the classics of Chinese political philosophy."—Brian Walker, China Quarterly

Los Angeles Times Book Review
This revival is the subject of political philosopher Daniel A. Bell's trenchant and surprisingly personal China's New Confucianism. Bell was the first foreigner hired since the Cultural Revolution to teach humanities at Beijing's prestigious Tsinghua University; one of the few Western professors in the country, he enjoys a unique outsider/insider perspective.
— Michael Levitin
Choice
This interesting and insightful volume by Bell offers an insider's account of a rapidly changing society in China and seeks to debunk a variety of crude stereotypes of Confucians.
— S.K. Ma
Asia Times Online
In [China's New Confucianism], [Bell] talks about such subjects as why Communist Party leaders invoke centuries-old Confucian values now? Why do senior communist leaders dye their hair black? Why the Chinese view that human rights should not have priority over national sovereignty? The adventurous professor even talks about why sexual intercourse with karaoke bar girls in China is often preceded by singing a duet. Bell draws on various social scenes in today's China and provides a Confucian explanation...In the book, Bell offers his personal observations on some Western 'misunderstandings' about China.
— Sunny Lee
China International Business
Daniel Bell has been able to breathe fresh life into an ancient and one largely-dismissed subject—and by doing so, has shown readers the possible benefits of the reintroduction of parts of Confucianism into modern Chinese society. China's New Confucianism is a great reminder of the wisdom—as well as some of the prejudices—of previous generations of thinkers and leaders.
— Kit Gillet
Far Eastern Economic Review
[C]hina's New Confucianism is certainly provocative. . . . Mr. Bell succeeds in using Confucianism to explicate everyday phenomena, but he is most convincing in political theory.
— April Rabkin
Centre Daily Times
This is an informative and entertaining book on the problems and challenges of contemporary China. . . . [I]t is learned, sensible, and heartfelt.
— On-cho Ng
Survival
China's New Confucianism stands out for not conforming to a preordained Western conceptual framework. The personal anecdotes are interesting and Bell displays cultural sensitivity throughout.
— Lanxin Xiang
China Quarterly
Daniel Bell is winningly realistic about the difficulties involved in adapting Confucian practices to a more egalitarian world and uniquely capable as a scholar in this area. . . . Bell's scholarly discussions . . . draw on a subtle and wide-ranging grasp of the classics of Chinese political philosophy.
— Brian Walker
The Independent
Bell, who teaches politics at Beijing's crack Tsinghua University, is well placed to comment on changing Chinese attitudes. He detects signs of a reviving interest in, and practice of, pre-communist traditions, whether in the lecture hall, in the streets, or inside karaoke bars...China's New Confucianism wisely refrains from any grand schematic overview. Rather, this is an informed and thoughtful interim response to an important contemporary trend.
— Justin Wintle
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691136905
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 4/7/2008
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 258
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Daniel A. Bell is professor of political philosophy at Tsinghua University in Beijing. His books include "Beyond Liberal Democracy: Political Thinking for an East Asian Contex"t and "East Meets West: Human Rights and Democracy in East Asia" (both Princeton). He writes on China-related affairs for "Dissent" and the "Guardian"'s Comment Is Free blog.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix
Introduction xiii

Part One: Politics 1
Chapter 1: From Communism to Confucianism: Changing Discourses on China's Political Future 3
Chapter 2: War, Peace, and China's Soft Power 19
Chapter 3: Hierarchical Rituals for Egalitarian Societies 38

Part Two: Society 57
Chapter 4: Sex, Singing, and Civility: The Costs and Benefi ts of the Karaoke Trade 59
Chapter 5: How Should Employers Treat Domestic Workers? 75
Chapter 6: The Politics of Sports: From the 2006 World Cup to the 2008 Olympics 91

Part Three: Education 105
Chapter 7: A Critique of Critical Thinking 107
Chapter 8: Teaching Political Theory in Beijing 128
Chapter 9: On Being Confucian: Why Confucians Needn't Be Old, Serious, and Conservative 148

Appendices
Chapter 1: Depoliticizing the Analects 163
Chapter 2: Jiang Qing's Po liti cal Confucianism 175
Index 231

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