Chinese scholar and Professor Joseph Chan from the University of Hong Kong explores the philosophical insights of Confucius – including harmony, civility and respect – and discusses how they can still be relevant for modern politics and society. His research explains why Confucian virtues are not irrelevant, but instead useful, because they can assist in making modern liberal democratic institutions function better.
- Joseph Chan further explains his interpretation of Confucianism in his book, Confucian Perfectionism: A Political Philosophy for Modern Times.
- To view a public lecture titled, “Can Confucianism Save the World? Reflections by Three Contemporary Political Thinkers,” click here. The three political philosophers on this panel are Joseph Chan, Tongdong Ba and Daniel Bell.
Although Confucius Institutes have opened and flourished throughout the world, not all have kept their doors open. For example, Sweden’s Stockholm University has decided it will not renew its Confucius Institute (CI) contract. Confucius Institutes are intended to promote the learning of Chinese language and culture internationally; however, criticisms of Confucian Institutes include allegations of censorship, industrial espionage, surveillance, and instilling political bias. Universities in Canada, France, Japan, and the United States have previously terminated their CI contracts, bringing the total number of closures to seven since 2010. Despite these closures, there remain 480 Confucius Institutes on six continents, with two new institutes opening in early 2015 at UC Santa Barbara and the University of Agriculture Faisalabad, Pakistan.
In Australia, Confucius Institutes are established at 11 universities. These are: the University of New South Wales (UNSW), the University of Newcastle, the University of Sydney, the University of Melbourne, the University of Queensland, the Queensland University of Technology, the University of Adelaide, the University of Western Australia, Charles Darwin University, Griffith University (for tourism), and RMIT University (for Chinese medicine). In Queensland alone, five Confucius classrooms have opened by the University of Queensland’s Confucius Institute in order to promote Chinese language and culture.
“The classrooms will not only enhance opportunities for students, but also for school teachers and administrators in a time where an understanding of Chinese language and culture is receiving greater emphasis,” UQ Confucius Institute Director Professor Ping Chen said.
To learn more about Confucian studies in Australia click here.
Scholars are locking horns as to which zodiac creature we are celebrating this Lunar New Year, however Chinese folklorists dismiss the fixation on animals as missing the point.The symbol for the new year is the “yang,” which can refer to any member of the Caprinae subfamily (and beyond) depending on what additional Chinese character it is paired up with.”This ‘yang’ is fictional. It does not refer to any specific kind (of sheep or goat),” said Zhao Shu, a researcher with the Beijing Research Institute of Culture and History.
“‘Yang’ is a symbol of . . . blessing and fortune and represents good things,” said Yin Hubin, an ethnology researcher with the China Academy of Social Sciences, a government think tank.
A Google search suggests that in English, “year of the sheep” is the most common phrasing. In French, however, the reverse is true, with convention and an overwhelming Google ratio in favor of “chevre,”or goat.
Zhao thinks the translation is “open to interpretation.”
“Sheep, goat, Mongolian gazelle — whatever is fine. This is the fun of Chinese characters,” he said.
Read the full article from the Japan Times, titled: “Sheep or goat? Chinese New Year is more about substance than zodiac creature.”
What are your thoughts – Year of the Sheep or Year of the Goat? Tell us by leaving a comment!
To read more about this topic, check out this article written by our first guest blogger, Vivian Fung.
Bond academics Dr Rosita Dellios and Dr R. James Ferguson attended the International Confucian Association Symposium in September 2014. During the symposium, Chinese President Xi Jinping spoke of the importance of culture to China’s engagement with the world. To view and read the speech, visit the International Confucian Association here.
To view photos from our trip to China, click here.
Outstanding among all of China’s philosophers was a great thinker and educator, Kong Qiu (551-479 BCE), better known to the West as Confucius. This Latinised name is derived from Kong Fuzi, meaning Great Master Kong. In Chinese ‘zi’ (or tzu) is an honorific that means ‘master’.
Confucius linked good government with morality, and used the perceived ideals of the past as standards of conduct for the present. He therefore codified Chinese tradition, and said he was only a transmitter of the wisdom of the Zhou dynasty sages: ‘I transmit but do not innovate; I am truthful in what I say and devoted to [Zhou] antiquity’ (Analects, 7.1).
However, his ‘school of scholars’ (rujia) – which we have come to know as ‘Confucianism’ or the Confucian school – became a source of wisdom in its own right. After it was officially adopted under the reign of Emperor Han Wudi (141-86 BCE) the Confucian school remained influential in imperial China, responding to changing circumstances and the introduction of Buddhist ideas. Confucius himself is still revered as the foremost figure in Chinese philosophy and an exemplar in his own right. His emphasis on harmony was revived by the Chinese Communist Party in an effort to ‘humanise’ a society stressed by rapid economic development. This led a policy of pursuing a ‘harmonious society’ domestically and also a desire to contribute to global peace.
Essentially, Confucianism seeks harmony in the socio-political sphere. It emphasises the proper cultivation of relationships at all levels – within the family, among friends and between sovereign and subject – in order for society to function in a manner beneficial to its members. If this happens it is not necessary for a leader to rule with an iron fist, but through example.
As a way of life and a body of thought Confucianism has evolved for two and a half millennia. The vitality of this school of thought, with its emphasis on such key virtues as benevolence, tolerance and reciprocity, has persisted through time and has spread regionally so that Confucianism is not only associated with Chinese culture but also Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese.
To read more about Confucius, view the full article here.
September 2014 – Dr Rosita Dellios and Dr R. James Ferguson from Bond University’s Centre for East-West Cultural and Economic Studies took part in celebrations occurring across China to commemorate the 2565th anniversary of Confucius’ birth. Chinese President Xi Jinping addressed the International Confucian Association (ICA) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, stating that “to understand present-day China… one must delve into the cultural bloodline of China, and accurately appreciate the cultural soil that nourishes the Chinese people.” ICA members later travelled to Confucius’ hometown of Qufu in Shandong Province, PRC.