NOBILITY AND CIVILITY
Harvard University Press, 2004 - 272 pages
Globalization has become an inescapable fact of contemporary life. Some leaders, in both the East and the West, believe that human rights are culture-bound and that liberal democracy is essentially Western, inapplicable to the non-Western world. How can civilized life be preserved and issues of human rights and civil society be addressed if the material forces dominating world affairs are allowed to run blindly, uncontrolled by any cross-cultural consensus on how human values can be given effective expression and direction?
In a thoughtful meditation ranging widely over several civilizations and historical eras, Wm. Theodore de Bary argues that the concepts of leadership and public morality in the major Asian traditions offer a valuable perspective on humanizing the globalization process. Turning to the classic ideals of the Buddhist, Hindu, Confucian, and Japanese traditions, he investigates the nature of true leadership and its relation to learning, virtue, and education in human governance; the role in society of the public intellectual; and the responsibilities of those in power in creating and maintaining civil society.
De Bary recognizes that throughout history ideals have always come up against messy human complications. Still, he finds in the exploration and affirmation of common values a worthy attempt to grapple with persistent human dilemmas across the globe.
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Though, as in China, the Emperor was almost deified as a Buddha incarnate, he
did not usually act as the final authority in doctrinal matters, but only as referee to
settle disputes among different sects. Whether or not an actual state system ...
"The People Renewed" in Twentieth- Century China A representative figure in
early twentieth-century China who dealt with the question of Confucian values as
related to citizenship in a modern nation was Liang Qichao (1873- 1929), ...
who stressed the need for institutional or systemic reform if the individual's efforts
were ever to be effective.1 But statecraft tradition was much less a part of the
educated intelligence in late Qing China than the Great Learning, and Liang took
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