NOBILITY AND CIVILITY

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Harvard University Press, 2004 - 256 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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Contents

Confucius Noble Person
1
The Noble Paths of Buddha and Rama
13
Buddhist Spirituality and Chinese Civility
44
Shotokus Constitution and the Civil Order in Early Japan
63
Chrysanthemum and Sword Revisited
80
The New Leadership and Civil Society in Song China
119
Civil and Military in Tokugawa Japan
147
Citizen and Subject in Modern Japan
168
The People Renewed in TwentiethCentury China
203
Epilogue
224
Notes
235
Works Cited
241
Index
244
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About the author (2004)

William Theodore de Bary was born in the Bronx, New York on August 9, 1919. He graduated from Columbia College in 1941 and began pursuing Japanese studies at Harvard University. When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, he was recruited by naval intelligence. He served at Pearl Harbor and later in Tokyo and Washington. After the war, he received a master's degree and a doctorate from Columbia. He taught Asian courses at Columbia and soon became head of Asian studies. From 1971 until 1978, he served as a vice president for academic affairs and provost. After formally retiring in 1989, he continued to teach with emeritus status until May 2017. He wrote or edited more than 30 books including The Great Civilized Conversation: Education for a World Community and Sources of Chinese Tradition. In 2013, he received the National Humanities Medal. He died on July 14, 2017 at the age of 97.

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