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Confucius: Philosophy between Philosophy

Abstract

The article is devoted to the philosophy of the well-known ancient Chinese sage Confucius paying attention to the Western misunderstandings of it. The fundamental differences between Chinese and Western civilizations, the problem of transcendence, and different attitude towards history are discussed in the text. Being neither a religion nor a philosophy in the strict Western sense of the word, Confucian thinking still finds its parallels among Western philosophies. The article faces the phenomenological task to discover concrete modes of awareness, their active engagements, and their correlate contents that are sufficiently broad and founding to cut across diverse disciplinary and cultural phenomena. This brief essay is a step in that direction with explicit commitment to Confucian explication and continuity of Chinese civilization. Despite variations and different levels of interpretation, a common context between Confucius and Western philosophical trends may be found.

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Laozi’s precepts for daily life in the contemporary world: two popular Western (American) interpretations

Abstract

The paper aims to discuss two popular interpretations of Daoism and its application to contemporary world: The Dao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff and The Truth of Tao by Alex Anatole. In the first part, it will concentrate on the interpretation of Daoist concept of simplicity (pu ) in B.Hoff’s book, pointing out to the problem of its simplification and elucidating the cluster of the meanings (or aspects) of pu in this book and in comparison with its understanding in Classical Daoism. In the second part, it will discuss the main points of interpretation of Daoism as a “reflective mirror” for illuminating the problems of Western (in this case, American) contemporary consumer culture, presented in Alex Anatole’s book, with the particular attention on his ideal of “contentment” and “ideal day”. It is claimed, that such popular versions of Daoism, although seemingly contradictory and superficial, and because of this rather mostly ignored by sinologists and investigators of Daoist practices, deserve more careful study by professional scholars, since they are the manifestations of the process of globalization of Daoism, which is inevitable in 21st century. Moreover, they are especially influential in forming a popular image of Daoist teaching, since the messages of such books spread to a far wider public, than the monographs by academic specialists in Chinese (Daoist) studies.

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Neo-Aristotelian Confucianism? Applicability of virtue ethics in early Confucian studies

Abstract

Since the 80’s of the last century a trend has emerged in the English language literature on Chinese thought that suggests reading early Confucian texts as a form of virtue ethics. However, Alasdair MacIntyre has presented early Confucian and Aristotle’s thoughts as incommensurable thought systems and doubted that notions and statements of one incommensurable thought system can be adequately expressed and addressed within the framework of another. This article discusses MacIntyre’s position and two strategies - employed by the proponents of virtue ethics interpretation of early Confucian texts - of meeting MacIntyre’s challenge. The article attempts to show that none of the responses were successful, thus leaving the quest for the most adequate philosophical framework to interpret early Confucian ethical thought open.

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The post-80s generation in Beijing: collective memory and generational identity

Abstract

This article questions the relevance of the notion of generation to describe the cohort who lives in Beijing and who was born in the 1980s and early 1990s, after the implementation of the reforms and opening-up policy in China. The analysis relies on 627 questionnaires collected in Beijing in 2010. The sample was stratified by age and sex, and, based on quotas; it was split into five age groups (18-26 year-olds, 33-41 year-olds, 48-56 year-olds, 63-71 year-olds and 78-86 year-olds). The respondents were questioned on their perception of turning points and socio-historical changes that occurred during their lifetime. After having analysed the data in a comparative perspective, we came to conclusion that the word generation is suitable to describe the young people from Beijing born in the 1980s and early 1990s not only because they do share autobiographical and collective historical memories, but also because these memories have by and large taken place between their adolescence and entry into adulthood (supporting the hypothesis of the existence of a reminiscence bump).

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