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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Moreover, despite the aggrandizing of imperial authority in the official Ming and
Qing versions, priority is still given to the family values of filiality and brother-
liness (especially as dramatized in later popular tales of heroic filial piety), while
Do nothing one shouldn't do.3 Muro's vernacular Japanese commentary stays
close to Fan Hong's version, which itself keeps to the original Six Precepts
without the more legalistic and bureaucratic additions of the Qing. As such,
But the community compact referred to here is not the community compact
promoted in the Ming and Qing dynasties by the government using political force,
rather it refers to the community compact launched in the beginning by villagers ...
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