Confucianism and Human Rights

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Overview

What is the place of human rights in a society shaped by Confucian principles? Can Confucianism offer useful perspectives on the Western conception of human rights? In this enlightening volume, eighteen leading Western and Chinese authorities on Confucian tradition, modern China, and modern human rights address these timely questions. They offer a balanced forum that seeks common ground, providing needed perspective at a time when the Chinese government, after years of denouncing Confucianism as an aritfact of a feudal past, has made an abrupt reversal to endorse it as a belief system compatible with communist ideology. In using Confucianism as a lens for which to evaluate the strengths and limitations of the principles of human rights, this book makes a significant contribution to understanding the complicated issues surrounding the "values" debate between China, some Asian regimes, and the West.
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Editorial Reviews

Edward Friedman
This rich volume, a feast for the mind, a joy to the soul, is so wise in seeing that the human rights discourse is not the singular fruit of a peculiar lieberal individualistic Western tradition, not the unique genetic child of Jews or Christians or Greeks.
Charles Horner
A serious, energetic, and deeply informed discussion.
Lynn Struve
It reduces the lack of clarity that has characterized discussions of this subject to date.
Choice
The essays explore such vital subjects as the normative foundation of human rights claims, the relationship of the individual to the nation-state, rites as rights, due process, harmony versus freedom of thought, constitutionalism, and the rule of law. . . . each one does stand on its own as a solid piece of scholarship.
Times Literary Supplement
A significant and laudable collection, not only because of the timeliness of the subject but also for its numerous useful suggestions on how to discuss human rights in terms of traditional East Asian discourse.
Stefan B. Polter
Confucianism and Human Rights is an ambitious book, dealing with human nature, according to classical Confucian philosophers, analogies between rights and rites, and Confucian influences in 20th-century China.
Booknews
Taking as their point of departure the 1948 UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, eighteen specialists<-->lead by De Bary (founding director, Columbia U. Center for the Study of Human Rights) and Weiming (Chinese history and philosophy, Harvard U.)<-->present a range of viewpoints on whether and how ancient Confucian norms may be reconciled with Western ideals of human rights, contemporary Chinese ideology, and cultural relativism. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
International Studies in Philosophy - Dale Maurice Riepe

This engaging book is propaedeutic to a study of how Confucianism might contribute to decisions respecting rights.

International Studies in Philosophy
This engaging book is propaedeutic to a study of how Confucianism might contribute to decisions respecting rights.

— Dale Maurice Riepe

Asian Affairs - Stefan B. Polter

An ambitious book, dealing with human nature, according to classical Confucian philosophers, analogies between rights and rites, and Confucian influences in 20th-century China.

Asian Thought and Society - Edward Friedman

This rich volume, a feast for the mind, a joy to the soul, is so wise in seeing that the human rights discourse is not the singular fruit of a peculiar liberal individualistic Western tradition, not the unique genetic child of Jews or Christians or Greeks.

China Quarterly - Lynn Struve

It reduces the lack of clarity that has characterized discussions of this subject to date.

Asian Affairs
An ambitious book, dealing with human nature, according to classical Confucian philosophers, analogies between rights and rites, and Confucian influences in 20th-century China.

— Stefan B. Polter

Asian Thought and Society
This rich volume, a feast for the mind, a joy to the soul, is so wise in seeing that the human rights discourse is not the singular fruit of a peculiar liberal individualistic Western tradition, not the unique genetic child of Jews or Christians or Greeks.

— Edward Friedman

China Quarterly
It reduces the lack of clarity that has characterized discussions of this subject to date.

— Lynn Struve

Choice

The essays explore such vital subjects as the normative foundation of human rights claims, the relationship of the individual to the nation-state, rites as rights, due process, harmony versus freedom of thought, constitutionalism, and the rule of law.... each one does stand on its own as a solid piece of scholarship.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780231109369
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press
  • Publication date: 1/28/1998
  • Pages: 408
  • Product dimensions: 6.21 (w) x 9.21 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Wm. Theodore de Bary is the author or editor of more than two dozen works on Asian civilizations, including Sources of Chinese Tradition and Sources of Japanese Tradition.Tu Weiming is the editor of China in Transformation and author of Living Tree: The Changing Meaning of Being Chinese Today, and Way, Meaning and Politics: Essays on the Confucian Intellectual.

Columbia University Press

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Table of Contents

Preface
Contributors
Introduction 1
1 A Constructive Framework for Discussing Confucianism and Human Rights 27
2 Human Rights: A Bill of Worries 54
3 Human Rights: A Valid Chinese Concept? 67
4 On the Rites and Rights of Being Human 83
5 Mencius and Human Rights 94
6 The Confucian Theory of Norms and Human Rights 117
7 Transforming Confucian Virtues Into Human Rights 142
8 The Yellow Emperor Tradition as Compared to Confucianism 154
9 Rites and Rights in Ming China 169
10 Confucianism and Due Process 179
11 The Concept of People's Rights (Minquan) in the Late Qing 193
12 Citizenship and Human Rights in Early Twentieth Century Chinese Thought 209
13 Confucian Harmony and Freedom of Thought 234
14 Confucian Influence on Intellectuals in the Peoples' Republic of China 261
15 Confucianism Contested: Human Rights and the Chinese Tradition in Contemporary Chinese Political Discourse 270
Epilogue: Human Rights as a Confucian Moral Discourse 297
Epilogue: Confucianism, Human Rights, and "Cultural Relativism" 308
Index 315
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