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Full Access Religion, Politics and Ethics: Towards a Global Theory of Social Transformation

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Religion, Politics and Ethics: Towards a Global Theory of Social Transformation

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In this paper I set out a phenomenology of social transformation, based on an analysis of the distinctively religious form of communication which underlies the trans-generational and trans-cultural transmission of world traditions, taking Confucianism and Christianity as their representatives. A phenomenological analysis of their communicative structure allows the possibility of a better understanding of what can be learnt from them in the context of contemporary debates in both China and the West on the relations between religion, ethics and politics. This analysis suggests that the ethical consistency of belief and act, which is the necessary condition for the engendering of long-term solidarity in religious community, has significant implications for ethics in politics, and especially for the legitimacy of representational leadership as a focal point for change in society. The paper concludes that the historical experience of world religions can offer new insights into the nature of political leadership and representation in today’s globalised world and that the appropriate locus for this inquiry is the present negotiation and re-negotiation of relations between China and the West.


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