Confucianism and Human Rights

Confucianism and Human Rights

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In essays exploring the relationship of contemporary human rights doctrine to the teachings of Confucius and Mencius, this volume explores concepts of the individual in relation to community, state, and society. The essays also consider: the notion of "rights" in Confucian ritual and in Chinese law; social justice and religious and intellectual fredom in Chinese and Western traditions; and constitutionalism and the rule of law in China and the West.

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  • Hardback | 408 pages
  • 157.7 x 233.9 x 27.9mm | 685.76g
  • Columbia University Press
  • New YorkUnited States
  • English
  • New.
  • 0231109369
  • 9780231109369

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Author Information

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.

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Review quote

"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 Affairs "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, Asian Thought and Society "It reduces the lack of clarity that has characterized discussions of this subject to date." -- Lynn Struve, China Quarterly "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." -- Choice "This engaging book is propaedeutic to a study of how Confucianism might contribute to decisions respecting rights." -- Dale Maurice Riepe, International Studies in Philosophy

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Back cover copy

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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