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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Nobility here represents an ideal of lofty spiritual emancipation , characterized by
self - control , equanimity , and dedication to a religious goal : the attainment of
Nirvana through sustained meditative practice . It is predicated on a recognition
Note , however , that this ideal of nobility in the Ramayana is grounded in the
emerging civility of the Indian tradition in the Classic age . While critical of the
conduct of those who represent the established order , the critique is based on
This ideal is exemplified in the opening lines of the Confucian Book of Historical
Documents ( Shujing ; see SCT I ) , where the sage - king Yao , the ideal ruler
and the progenitor of civilized society , is described as one who eschews all force
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The Noble Paths of Buddha and Rama
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