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Under Western Eyes: Critical Reflections on the Confucius Revival

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The economic opening up of China has paved the way for a renaissance of thought and scholarship, and Confucianism, while still not considered the “national religion,” has regained its place as the heart of Chinese humanities and academic debate. It has even transcended the academic arena and has become a social phenomenon. But to what extent is this resurgence a natural response to a changing society, the response of a populace that is possibly growing averse to looking toward the West for answers, and to what extent is it politically driven? When put in its proper historical and cultural context, we can see that this revival of Confucian thought and of Confucius as a national idol is very much a tool wielded by the government to promote its own goals, namely, to foster a stronger sense of national identity, unity, and obedience under the name of harmony. Now that China’s modernization has become a fact, many questions remain regarding how its government and its society will reconcile modernization and Westernization with its rich Confucian heritage. This paper aims to elucidate some of these questions.


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1. Angle Stephen Contemporary Confucian Political Philosophy 2012 Cambridge, MA Polity Press
2. Bell Daniel China’s New Confucianism: Politics and Everyday Life in a Changing Society 2008 Princeton Princeton University Press
3. Creel H.G. Confucianism and the Chinese Way 1949 New York Harper Torch
4. Marx Karl The Communist Manifesto 2008 Ware Wordsworth Editions Ltd
5. Song Xianlin Makeham John"“Reconstructing the Confucian Ideal in 1980s China: The ‘Culture Craze’ and New Confucianism”" The New Confucianism: A Critical Examination 2003 New York Palgrave Macmillan

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