Modern Trends in World Religions

By A. Eustace Haydon | Go to book overview

V
CONFUCIANISM AND MODERN
SCIENTIFIC THINKING

BY HU SHIH

FIRST, let me make my personal position clear. I do not want to appear in a series of discussions of world- religions under false colors. When I arrived in Chicago I asked Professor Haydon whether he had read my statement of faith published in the Forum and in the volume Living Philosophies, a statement which is naturalistic, agnostic, even atheistic. Professor Haydon said he had read my creed, so I am here, not as a believer in any one of these religions, but only as a student of the history of some of the intellectual-religious developments of my country.

In answering the question concerning the relationship between modern scientific thinking and Confucianism, I wish to point out that Confucianism, if correctly interpreted, will be in no sense adverse to modern scientific thinking. Not only is it my opinion that Confucianism will furnish very fertile soil on which to cultivate modern scientific thinking but Confucianism has many traditions which are quite favorable to the spirit and attitude of modern science.

In the first place, Confucianism has an agnostic tendency and a respect for truth, such a respect for truth that it makes us feel the responsibility of confessing our ignorance where ignorance is the more correct description of our position than knowledge. Confucius taught his disciples to say that they knew a thing when they really knew it, and to say that they did not know it when they really did not know it. That is knowledge. That is not exactly agnosti-

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