Confucian Humanism and Religion
Friday December 15, 2017, at 14:10 PM at Faculty of Philosophy and Arts Charles University, Celetna 20, Prague 1, Room 118
Prof. Lee Ming-huei, Institute of Chinese Literature and Philosophy, Academia Sinica
Abstract: Many researchers of Confucianism argue that it is a kind of “humanism” and thus speak of “Confucian humanism.” Modern Western humanism originated in resistance against the dominant God-centered Christian culture in the medieval period and hence rivaled or even opposed religion in the very beginning. In ancient China, Confucianism in the pre-Qin period stemmed from the primitive religion in the Shang Dynasty, and then was gradually humanized, but still retained some religiousness. Contemporary New Confucians also speak of “Confucian humanism,” but are not at one on its characteristics. For Xu Fuguan徐復觀, Confucianism is strictly a kind of humanism in the Western sense, and its religiousness is nothing but a historical leftover . But for Tang Junyi 唐君毅and Mou Zongsan牟宗三, Confucianism, even after the process of humanization, still retained a kind of religiousness as its essence; in other words, religion and humanism are inseparable in Confucianism as the two sides of the same coin and maintain an eternal tension with each other. This is a kind of humanism which can coexist with religion, what Mou calls “humanistic religion” or “moral religion.” This kind of religion is a religion without the structure of religion and pertains to what Thomas Luckmann calls “invisible religion.” According to Luckmann, one of the characteristics of modern society lies in the privatization of religions; that is to say, the church-oriented “visible religion” is gradually replaced by the “invisible religion” which is based on individual religiosity. Inspired by Christian history, Kang Youwei康有為 and Jiang Qing蔣慶have advocated reviving institutional Confucianism and promoting it as the national religion in modern China. But according to Luckmann’s thesis, this is neither desirable nor attainable.