OLD SAGE FOR NEW AGE? THE REVIVAL OF RELIGIOUS CONFUCIANISM IN CHINA

  • Chaohua Wang The Institute for Advanced Studies, Nantes, France

Abstract

In recent years, Confucianism has been once again identified as the essence of Chinese civilization and a religion that was central to the Chinese people throughout China’s long history. Scholars are appealing to the Communist Party to make Confucianism the State religion (guojiao). What are the political implications of the phenomena? Can these claims stand to intellectual scrutiny? Conducting a brief historical survey of religious Confucianism in Chinese politics, in addition to an analysis of shared principles essential to various Confucianist positions today, this paper argues that religious Confucianism presented by its contemporary promoters is a constructed myth originated mainly from the Qing times (1644- 1911). The supposed Confucian teaching does not carry religious meaningfulness associated to either individual existence or social life in contemporary China. It remains powerful primarily in connection to the State, or a collective nation (Zhonghua), vis-à-vis the world outside ethnic Han communities. Despite this - or precisely because of this - a revived religious Confucianism may have the greatest potential to become a political force in China in our globalizing age, more so than any other major world religions, even if others may have larger Chinese following than Confucianism.

Keywords: Religious Confucianism, Daoism, All-under-Heaven, filial piety, contemporary China, nationalism

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Published
2017-01-10
Section
TOPIC OF THIS ISSUE