Asian Values and Human Rights: A Confucian Communitarian Perspective

Asian Values and Human Rights: A Confucian Communitarian Perspective

Hardback Wing-Tsit Chan Memorial Lectures

By (author) William Theodore De Bary

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  • Publisher: HARVARD UNIVERSITY PRESS
  • Format: Hardback | 208 pages
  • Dimensions: 158mm x 235mm x 19mm | 459g
  • Publication date: 30 September 1998
  • Publication City/Country: Cambridge, Mass
  • ISBN 10: 0674049551
  • ISBN 13: 9780674049550

Product description

Since the horrific Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989, the debate on human rights in China has raged on with increasing volume and shifting context, but little real progress. In this text, William de Bary seeks to move beyond the political shouting match, informing and contextualizing the debate from a Confucian and a historical perspective. "Asian Values" is a concept advanced by some authoritarian regimes to differentiate an Asian model of development, supposedly based on Confucianism, from a Western model identified with individualism, liberal democracy, and human rights. Highlighting the philosophical development of Confucianism as well as the Chinese historical experience with community organization, constitutionalism, education and women's rights, de Bary argues that while the Confucian sense of personhood differs in some respects from Western libertarian concepts of the individual, it is not incompatible with human rights, but could, rather, enhance them. De Bray also demonstrates that Confucian communitarianism has historically resisted state domination, and that human rights in China could be furthered by a genuine Confucian communitarianism that incorporates elements of Western civil society.

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Review quote

Wm. Theodore de Bary is an illustrious exemplar of the great tradition of classical Sinology, a discipline that called for the meticulous reading and interpreting of the Confucian canon and the total command of nearly three millennia of Chinese philosophical thought. In this slender volume, de Bary aggressively takes on two contemporary Asian issues and punches huge holes in the arguments of both the champions of "Asian values" and those who hold that human values are not applicable to Asian societies...What de Bary admirably succeeds in doing is to demonstrate that the Confucian tradition was filled with thinkers who appreciated liberal values, and that it was not an authoritarian ideology.--Lucian W. Pye"Journal of Politics" (08/01/1999)

Table of contents

"Asian values" and Confucianism; individualism and personhood; laws and rites; school and community; the community compact; Chinese constitutionalism and civil society; women's education and women's rights; Chinese communism and Confucian communitarianism; afterword.