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SagehoodThe Contemporary Significance of Neo-Confucian Philosophy$
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Stephen C. Angle

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780195385144

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195385144.001.0001

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Sages and Politics: A Way Forward

Sages and Politics: A Way Forward

(p.197) 11 Sages and Politics: A Way Forward

Stephen C. Angle (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter articulates a contemporary Confucian politics that allows the ideal of sagehood to inform both personal and public activities, without falling into the traps that have snared both the theory and practice of previous Confucian politics. The chapter begins with a review of the relation between perfection and fallibility. The attitude toward perfection and ideals that is recommended leads to a second topic, which spans questions of ritual and reverence. Ritual must feature prominently in any Confucian politics. Embracing ritual and reverence entails an affirmative attitude toward spirituality, but this is a very different thing from advocating the establishment of a Confucian church or state religion. Instead, this general approach to embracing ideals undergirds the importance of what Joseph Chan has called “moderate perfectionist institutions.” These institutions must invest a plurality of voices with sovereignty if the effort to look for harmony in our world is to have any practical hope. This, then, leads to a substantial discussion of the ways in which sagely politics must be participatory. Lastly, the chapter argues that in a contemporary Confucian context, laws and rights should be seen as a system of second resort.

Keywords:   fallibility, ritual, reverence, moderate perfectionism, participation, law

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