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Philosophical edifi cation and edifi catory philosophy: On the basic features of the Confucian spirit

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image of Frontiers of Philosophy in China

Edification 教化 is one of the central concepts of Confucianism. The metaphysical basis of the Confucian edification is the “philosophical theory” in the sense of rational humanism rather than the “religious doctrine” in the sense of pure faith. Confucianism did not create a system of ceremony and propriety owned by Confucians only. The system of ceremony and propriety on which Confucians depend to carry out their social edification is that of “rites and music,” the common life style of ancient China. After continual metaphysical explanation and elevation, the system of ceremony and propriety and that of rites and music have undergone a sort of ever-evolving historical fluctuation, and evinced a sort of openness and forgiveness comparable to that of any other religious form. Compared with typical religious practices, whose ceremonies and rituals that have their own special fixity and exclusivity, Confucian ceremonies and rituals are fundamentally different. The edification of Confucianism can be labeled as “edification in the sense of philosophy.” As a “philosophy”, Confucianism’s vision did not focus on cognition but on completion and realization.


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