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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A lasting and powerful vestige of this was the act of suicide as the ultimate,
redeeming demonstration of personal honor, a practice which eventually spread
well beyond the samurai class itself. Of more direct concern to the shogunate in
... gura), which has to do with the vendetta of forty-seven samurai to avenge an
insult to their lord and his wrongful death. (The samurai are usually referred to
here as ronin, masterless samurai, because the death of their lord left them
without a ...
The samurai class was taking on civil status and functions. ... In this way, bushidd
came to be recognized as a living embodiment of the Confucian Way — a Way
that was grasped as more valuable than life itself. . . . [This] was at first mediated ...
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