Academic journal article Journal of Ecumenical Studies

Preface

Academic journal article Journal of Ecumenical Studies

Preface

Article excerpt

Two of the largest blocks of humanity are those profoundly influenced by Confucianism on the one hand and the Judeo-Christian tradition on the other. Both Judaism and Christianity have wrestled, and more or less come to terms, with Modernity--characterized by freedom, democracy, and scientific and historical thinking--since its emergence in the seventeenth-century Scientific Revolution, and especially in the eighteenth-century European Enlightenment (in fact, in German historiography, the period inaugurated by the Enlightenment is referred to as the New Age, die Neuzeit).

The dominance of Confucianism in its homeland in China crashed early in the twentieth century, and it too shortly thereafter began its engagement with Modernity. Already Japan, with a Confucian cultural base, was shocked into Modernity starting in the middle of the nineteenth century by the appearance of U.S. Commodore Perry's warships in Yokohama Bay. Japan responded with the 1868 Meiji Revolution, which catapulted Japan into Modernity even before the end of the nineteenth century, signaled by the overwhelming Japanese defeat of the Russian Asian fleet in 1895

It was from China, however, that the effort to bring Confucianism to engage Modernity seriously was launched, starting in the second quarter of the twentieth century and continuing to today. That dialogue (and consequent change of behavior) has moved from its early attempt to bring the ancient Confucian tradition up to date, while still maintaining its claim that Confucianism was the best religion-philosophy for the whole world, to the present commitment to an egalitarian dialogue with the rest of the religions-philosophies-cultures of the world. …

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