Essentials of Contemporary Neo-Confucian Philosophy

Essentials of Contemporary Neo-Confucian Philosophy

Essentials of Contemporary Neo-Confucian Philosophy

Essentials of Contemporary Neo-Confucian Philosophy

Synopsis

This volume is the follow-up to Understanding Confucian Philosophy: Classical and Sung-Ming, which presented the first two Epochs of Confucian philosophy. The third Epoch, presented in this book, is that of Contemporary Neo-Confucian philosophy. It notes a paradigm shift from the late Ming to the early Ch'ing, which shows us how the line of Sung-Ming Neo-Confucian philosophy was broken. Then, background information is given to answer the question of how the phoenix was reborn from the ashes; at the height of the iconoclast May Fourth Movement in 1919, Liang Sou-ming, the forerunner of the movement, developed his ideas about East-West cultures and their philosophies.

During the darkest moments of Chinese history, three generations of New Confucian scholars developed their ideas and achieved great scholarship. Shu-hsien Liu presents a framework of four groups to portray the movement. And, the philosophies of Fung Yu-lan, Hsuing Shih-li, Thome H. Fang, T'ang Chun-I, and Mou tsung-san are reviewed and analyzed. The international dimension of the third generation of New Confucians is also introduced. In the conclusion, Shu-hsien Liu comments on the relevance of this trend of thought today with a view toward the future.

Excerpt

I am a subscriber to the theory of Three Epochs in Confucian philosophy. This volume is a sequel to Understanding Confucian Philosophy: Classical and Sung-Ming, which presented Confucian philosophies in the first two Epochs. Now I continue to tell the story of Contemporary Neo-Confucian philosophy in the Third Epoch.

Chapter 1 examines a paradigm shift from the late Ming to the early Ch’ing, which tells us how the line of Sung-Ming Neo-Confucian philosophy was broken. Chapter 2 studies the background for the emergence of Contemporary New Confucianism, demonstrating how the phoenix was reborn from the ashes. Very few scholars notice that it was precisely at the height of May Fourth Movement in 1919, the catchword of which was “down with the Confucian shop,” that Liang Sou-ming, the forerunner of the Contemporary Neo-Confucian Movement, conceived his ideas concerning Eastern and Western cultures and their philosophies in order to speak on behalf of Confucius against the tide of the day. There were hot debates among scholars about who should be included in the movement and how to classify these scholars. I have come up with a structure of four groups in three generations in order to bring about a synthesis between various viewpoints and resolve the conflicts among them.

Because my emphasis is on philosophy, in the next five chapters I choose to present and examine the thoughts of the following philosophers: Fung Yu-lan, Hsiung Shih-li, Thomé H. Fang, T’ang Chün-i, and Mou Tsung-san. Then in chapter 8, I give an introduction to the international dimension of the third-generation New Confucians: Yü Ying-shih, Liu Shu-hsien (myself), Cheng Chung-ying, and Tu Wei-ming, whose thoughts are still in the making. Some concluding remarks are made in the epilogue.

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