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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Accordingly, in his preface to the Great Learning, Zhu cited universal schooling
from the capital down to the village level, as the model set by the early sage-
kings. In this too nobility and civility were co-implicated. The theme of the unity
Hence the initial teaching of the Great Learning insists that the learner, as he
comes upon the things of this world, must proceed from principles already known
and further fathom them until he reaches the limit. After exerting himself for some
... 50 Daxue (The Great Learning), 125, 129-131, 134, 152, 166, 203,213,215
Daxue yanyi (Extended Meaning of the Great Learning), 148 Dazai Shundai (
1680-1747), 161 Deng Xiaoping, 219 Deva-raja (god-king), 22 Dhammapada, 13
, 14, ...
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