East Asian Confucianisms: Texts in contexts

   This volume tells the story of the importance of Confucian traditions and why and how Confucian texts were reinterpreted within different ambiances and contexts around East Asia. The vitality of “East Asian Confucianisms” stems from the desire of Confucian thinkers to interpret the core values of the Confucian classics in accordance with conditions and changes in their own times and locations. Although all of the interpretations advanced in China, Korea and Japan were specific to their own eras, they share common themes. This book reveals that East Asian Confucianisms form an intellectual community that is transnational and multi-lingual and has evolved through interactions between Confucian “universal values” and local conditions in each East Asian country.

This book argues that, as a new academic discipline, East Asian Confucianisms are full of potential. The rationale for proposing East Asian Confucianisms as a field of study is twofold. On the one hand, East Asian Confucianisms embrace the Confucian traditions of China, Japan, Korea, and Taiwan. On the other hand, the varied Confucian traditions in these cultures did not form a mechanical assemblage but have instead coalesced into a comprehensive, developing, and systematic whole. The particularity and commonality of Confucianisms in China, Korea and Japan can best be visualized from an East Asian and comparative perspective. Moreover, East Asian Confucianisms exhibit genetic developmental interconnectedness. Confucianism originated in Shandong, China, two thousand years ago. By the sixteenth century, it had spread to Japan across the vital bridge of Korea and had come to occupy a major place in Japan’s philosophical mainstream. In the history of cultural interaction in East Asia, “Confuciandom”, as opposed to “Christendom”, can readily be observed.

In retrospect, the book observes that in every East Asian country, the study of Confucianism during the last century was confined to the ghetto of the nation-state. In the emerging 21st-century age of globalization, we must strive to revisit the intrinsic values of Confucianisms in East Asia.

This book stresses the necessity of revisiting the East Asian Confucian legacy and concludes by indicating that the universality of East Asian Confucian values shall become increasingly apparent in civilizational dialogue in the 21st century.

Chun-chieh Huang. (2015). East Asian Confucianisms: Texts in Contexts. Goettingen and Taipei: V&R unipress and National Taiwan University Press.

Distinguished Chair Professor Chun-chieh Huang
Institute for Advanced Studies in Humanities and Social Sciences (IHS)