NOBILITY AND CIVILITY
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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In the thinking of Watsuji ' s contemporary , Yoshino Sakuzo , whose views on
constitutionalism ( cited in Chapter 1 ) are the touchstone in this discussion , the
position of the Emperor in Japanese tradition loomed no less large than it did for
But Yoshino clearly saw this as a vocation to educate the people at large to an
informed participation in the electoral process — not as a means to perpetuate
the position or privilege of an elite . In his words , In some countries the privileged
Yoshino ' s analysis of the final “ problem ” here was both acute and prophetic .
Although some of his main goals were achieved in the 1920s , a period which is
usually identified with party politics , democratic movements ( most specifically
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The Noble Paths of Buddha and Rama
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