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ERIC Number: EJ878900
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010
Pages: 4
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0037-7724
Confucianism on the Comeback: Current Trends in Culture, Values, Politics, and Economy
Angle, Stephen C.
Social Education, v74 n1 p24-27 Jan-Feb 2010
There is ample evidence that Confucianism is undergoing a multi-faceted revival in contemporary China. This can be seen in government slogans, in a runaway best seller on the "Analects" (the compendium of Confucius's teachings), in educational experiments, and in academic activities. The twentieth century was a bad century for Confucianism. In 1905, a last-ditch effort to reform a floundering empire led to the abandonment of the ubiquitous civil-service exam system, around which higher education in China had been based for centuries. This was followed, in 1911, with the collapse of the last dynasty itself. In 1915, Chinese intellectuals inaugurated a "New Culture Movement" that sought fundamental changes to Chinese values, practices, and even the Chinese language. In many ways, this movement was a more pervasive "cultural revolution" than the later Maoist movement of that name. The values of "modern civilization" were on the rise and older traditions like Confucianism were roundly criticized. Confucianism did not die, but after the first decades of the twentieth century, it would need to find new ways to be relevant in Chinese society. After this unpromising start, the twentieth century continued to pose obstacles to any rebirth of Confucianism. Some political leaders tried to portray it as a shallow ideology of loyalty to power, while others tried to wipe it completely from the hearts of China's citizens (most notably during the 1973-1974 "Criticize Lin Biao and Confucius" campaign). There were some exceptions: philosophers and educators like Liang Shuming (1893-1988) and Mou Zongsan (1909-1995) developed Confucian ideas for the new century and sought to teach its ideals both within the People's Republic (to the limited degree that was possible) and in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and even further afield. The "New Confucianism" championed by Mou and others is a fascinating philosophical movement with which current scholars are much engaged. But for the most part, these lonely voices were all that could be heard about Confucianism. Gradual change started on the mainland in the 1980s, initially in very circumscribed ways. In this article, the author provides an overview of the ways in which a revival of Confucianism can be observed in Chinese society today. He analyzes contemporary Confucianism using these dimensions: (1) Confucian Capitalism; (2) Scholarly Confucianism; (3) Marxist Confucianism; (4) Confucian Soft Power; (5) Tourist Confucianism; (6) Revivalist Confucianism; (7) Family Values Confucianism; (8) Feel-Good Confucianism; and (9) Global Philosophy and Confucianism. (Contains 1 note.)
National Council for the Social Studies. 8555 Sixteenth Street #500, Silver Spring, MD 20910. Tel: 800-683-0812; Tel: 301-588-1800; Fax: 301-588-2049; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: Teachers
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: China; Hong Kong; Taiwan