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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Yet while the long-term trend through the Ming and Qing was for Zhu Xi's
precepts to be appropriated in this authoritarian and bureaucratic way for the
purposes of the state, conscientious Confucian scholars and officials like Wang
cently the Chinese scholar Li Zehou reassessed the continuing influence of
Confucian tradition and the specific Neo- Confucian influences on Mao's early
education, especially the influence of the Wang Yangming school. What Li has to
... 184 Vidydrdja (ming-wang), Kings of Illumination, 60 Village lectures, 145
Vimalakirti, 48, 52, 75 Vimalakirti Sutra, 47 Vinaya, 45, 74 Wang Yangming, 140,
142, 145, 212 Warrior class (kshatriya), 15, 18, 27, 33, 96, 102 Washington,
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