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One of the most prominent differences between Chinese philosophy and that of other traditions centers the notion of transcendence. Unlike Hinduism and Buddhism, which reject the world as unreal and unworthy, or Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, which seek otherworldly salvation, the Chinese tradition seems to adamantly immerse itself in this world, to the extent that it is often criticized as provincial and parochial. However, in recent decades, the transcendental tradition in Western civilization has been under serious attack. As Hall and Ames note, Friedrich Nietzsches claim that God is Dead! was meant to sound the death knell of all philosophic programs grounded in the notion of transcendencewhich is to say, effectively all classical philosophic programs in the West.1 The attack on the notion of transcendence comes partly as a direct result of a widespread concern about the condition of men and women in the modern and postmodern world. Scholars from various camps have commented that the transcendental understanding of human beings, especially the construction of the modern subject, although with undeniable gains, has resulted in unacceptable losses2 to their well-being. Some argue that while individuality is valued as a mark of creativity and originality in advanced industrial societies,3 in reality, individuals are losing their ability to think critically and are becoming one-dimensional.4 Even more poignantly, some argue that the modern construction of the subject has been instrumental in the oppression, dominance, marginalization, and even elimination of the Other during modern times.5 While apparently there is a connection between the problem of the modern subject and the notion of transcendence, it is unclear how the former is a direct consequence of the latter. Why would the notion of transcendence, while so crucial to Western civilization and to the technological achievements of the world, result in a construction of man that can be unexpectedly harmful? Examination of a cultural tradition that has long been believed to have a very limited sense of
GUOPING ZHAO, Associate Professor, Social Foundations of Education, School of Educational Studies, Oklahoma State University. Specialties: philosophical and crosscultural studies of education. E-mail: 2009 Journal of Chinese Philosophy


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transcendence may provide some insight. In a different notion of transcendence, could there be elements that speak directly to the modern/postmodern crisis? I. Transcendence in the West and the Modern Construction of Man Western civilization has long had a tendency to separate the actual world from the world beyond and negate the organic relationships between them.6 Nevertheless, in this transcendental tradition, at different historical times there have been subtle differences in the understanding of transcendence. Platos concept of an unseen eternal world of which the actual world is only a pale copy represents the notion of transcendence during Greek and Roman time, and a person-deity transcendent to the natural world represents the idea of transcendence in Christianity. If, as Hall and Ames note, in the western tradition, the process of becoming a person has [always] been characterized in terms of the realization of ideals of a transcendental sort,7 then changes in the notion of transcendence must have had an impact on the construing and treatment of men and women in the West.To understand why the modern construction of men and women is particularly problematic, therefore, it is necessary to understand how the notion of transcendence has changed and why it is particular about the modern notion of transcendence. Tracing changes in the linguistic connotation of the word transcendence may give us a hint at what has happened. The original Latin meaning of transcend is climbing or going beyond. The MerriamWebster English Dictionary denes transcend as to rise above or to go beyond the limits of; to triumph over the negative or restrictive aspects of; . . . to rise above or extend notably beyond ordinary limits.8 Being transcendent means going beyond something, but there is still a sense of connection. To go beyond something, one always has to start from something, and the purpose of going beyond is to triumph over the negative or restrictive aspects of something. It does not necessarily indicate the condition of being completely outside or totally separate. However, except for some particular philosophical uses of the term, such as by Kant and by some phenomenologists, transcendence in the modern time is often taken to mean something that is separate and real apart from the world, something completely outside of and beyond the world. Transcendence is the opposite of immanence. This shift/change in our common denition of the term indicates that some serious changes may have occurred to the notion of tran-

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scendence in the West, as well as to the relationship between actual humanity and the construed self. Become what you are in GrecoRoman times means a search for your Eternal Forms (Plato) or your activity of self-reective thought (Aristotle), but in the middle ages and modern times it means renouncing yourself to God (Aquinas) or submitting yourself to Procedural Reason (Descartes). In Greek and Roman times, according to Foucault, the view of personhood was guided by a concern with the self and care of the self, where the purpose was to form oneself, to surpass oneself, to master the appetites that threaten to overwhelm one,9 but not to deny the self. Weber once commented that for the truly Hellenic man [as for the Confucians], all transcendental anchorage of ethics, all tension between the imperatives of a supra-mundane God and a creatural world, all orientation toward a goal in the beyond, and all conception of radical evil were absent.10 While no doubt there was an element of transcendence in Greek and Roman thinking, as demonstrated by both Plato and Aristotle, who separated reason from the senses and connected reason to the highest good, for the anthropocentric-minded Greeks, the separation was far from complete. The human soul was always closely connected to the divine, to the highest good. Donald Munro,11 in his comparative study of the relationship between natural order and the human mind in earlier Chinese and ancient Greek thinkers, noted that for certain Greek philosophers, the soul (psyche) is the organ that responds to the guiding principles of the universe.12 Aristotle, sharing the Greek maxim like knows like, informed us that philosophers who postulate a discriminative soul identify soul with the principle or principles of Nature. 13 Plato, in the Timaeus, detailed a corresponding concept of the human soul as an entity peculiarly tted for knowing the Forms of the universe.14 In the Phaedo, Plato explained that the soul had to be like the divine.
But when it [the soul] investigates by itself, it passes into the realm of the pure and everlasting and immortal and changeless, and being of a kindred nature, when it is once independent and free from interference [i.e., independent of the body], consorts with it always and strays no longer, but remains, in that realm of the absolute, constant and invariable, through contact with beings of a similar nature. And this condition of the soul we call wisdom.15

Thus, there is an immanent relationship between the transcendental and the human inner quality, the soul. It is a rened quality; nonetheless, it is a human quality. The human soul was identied with the Form, the highest good, or with the principles of Nature. Even though the transcendent tendency in ancient Greece calls for the separation of reason from the senses, the separation is never complete and the soul remains embedded in the realm of human experiences.


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When Aquinas replaced Platos Good or Form with God, the distance between the transcendental and the human world was greatly increased. In Christianity, a fundamental tension was established between the Deity and this world, and transcendence became the realm of God which, for many Christians even now, is beyond, completely outside, and even against the world. Although some Christians may contend that God is not to be construed as separate and real apart from the world,16 and although there is the idea of the Trinity and even that sinners can strive to be one with Christ, still a profound sense of conict is established in Christianity which leads to the separation of this world from the world beyond. The conict of forces can never be reconciled but can only be resolved by a conquest of the good over the evil, of light over darkness.17 The relationship between this world and the world beyond is enduringly antagonistic. In this context, human nature represents the evil and the dark; it is so depraved that the only hope is in the other world. A shift in the Western tradition of transcendence thus occurred, where the transcendent shifts further away from the origin, the thing that is to be transcended. The project of modernity is a radical departure in modern history in the sense that people, instead of God, once again become the center of the universe. The humanistic move to recognize the rights, dignity, and freedom of human beings makes the project of modernity a project of empowering humanity. In this cultural context, we would imagine, humanity itself should be central and substantive to the ideal self and the transcendental should be closely connected to this world. But is it true? Critics often note that the crucial importance of rationality in modernity, especially in the modern construction of the subject, indicates a dualistic treatment of man. However, this is not always the case. Scrutinizing Descartess notion of Cogito, the genesis of modern rationality, I argue that Descartess treatment of rationality does not allow what is signicantly human to be part of the importance. Rationality, for Descartes, is following a logical procedure, and we should do everything to prevent anything human from intervening. Charles Taylor also notes that rationality has lost its substance in Descartes:
We could say that rationality is no longer dened substantively, in terms of the order of being, but rather procedurally, in terms of the standards by which we construct orders in science and life. For Plato, to be rational we have to be right about the order of things. For Descartes, rationality means thinking according to certain canons. The judgment now turns on properties of the activity of thinking rather than on the substantive beliefs which emerge from it.18

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For Descartes, it does not matter whether we have the potential or the capacity to be right or to know the Form. We do not provide anything substantive in our judgment. The logical procedure does not originate from us, nor is it part of our being or quality. Rationality is not our thinking, but a way of thinking that all humans should follow. Different from the Greco-Roman notion of the soul or the psyche, which can be a provider or identier of the Form or Principle, there is nothing in rationality that is substantively human. In this sense, the transcendent is far removed from humanity. The critics are right if the critique is not aimed at Descartes, but at Kant. The dualistic treatment of man where the rational part is made the single most important element and the other parts denigrated is certainly a key feature of Kants thought.As one of the most inuential Enlightenment thinkers, Berel Lang suggests, Kants thought contains the central themes of the Enlightenment.19 Kants focus on human autonomy, his idea of humanity as an end to itself, and his demand that we human beings impose order upon the world through our construction of knowledge and moral actions embodies the Enlightenment humanistic spirit. As Chung-ying Cheng notes, not only has Kants Copernican revolution made the turn away from the theology of a transcendent God to reection on human being as a form of ultimate being, but there is also almost a resonance between Kants notion of the moral sovereignty of man and Confuciuss basic theme on autonomy of moral will as the dening quality of human worth.20 However, many argue, Kants universal reason and its dominance has also caused the dissolution of the modern subject and the damage done to the self and the Other. Some even suggest that Nazism is in critical part a product of modern reason, more especially, of Enlightenment reason, 21 of which Kant is the major architect. What seems to be the trouble is the universalism and the intrinsic totalitarianism of Kants reason.22 As Adorno observes, The concept of reason . . . was a compromise between subjective thinking reduced to its pure formand thereby potentially objectied, detached from the egoand the validity of logical forms divorced from their constitution.23 The objectied and sublimed reason is not only detached from its material, the diffused impulses,24 but also universalized and comes to dene the very identity of human being. 25 It is the authority that tames [the impulses] and potentially negates them.26 It eliminates from the subject whatever does not conform with its pure concept.27 The separation of the reason, the pure, and the universal from the impulse, the material, and the diverse is so severe that Adorno calls it schizophrenia.28 The transcendent, the universalized and detached pure reason, even though it is part of humanity, is thus disconnected from the embedded human experience.


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In addition, the universalized reason also distinguish[es] between humans and subhumansexclusion from the rst group [to whom certain rights are ascribed] means that virtually no controls remain for the determination of the status (or rights) of those who are excluded.29 Wagner notes that a concept of universal reason needs to set boundaries in the name of reason and to remove the constructed and, thereby, the distanced Other from the same time-space of humanity.30 The project of the modern subject, in the name of afrming reason, has made the lower classes the other in ones own society, the women in ones own family and intimate relations, and madness in ones own body and mind.31 In political ideology, the intrinsic totalism of [universal reason] translates into totalitarianism.32 Therefore in the Holocaust the genocide [only] made manifest a certain latent conceptual content of [Kantian] thought.33 The endeavor in modernity to transcend humanity by locating the human ideal either in procedural reason or in the pure, universal form of reason disengaged from other human experiences insures that the modern notion of transcendence is in its disconnected form. What is particular about the modern notion of transcendence is that it is a transcendence of us, but at the same time, it is also transcendence from us, from the very material that constitutes human experience. It is this disconnected form of transcendence, I suggest, that makes our pursuit of transcendence at times unexpectedly harmful to human well-being. For when transcendence means disconnected from the material nature of humanity, it detaches the modern construction of humans from everyday human experience and the deeply felt and commonly shared human sentiments. A disconnected form of transcendence makes the afrmation of the value of man a value of transcendent man, and therefore the afrmation is made at the expense of the value of that which is made to contrast with the transcendent, the historical and the everyday living man and woman. When we construct the human ideal based on procedural or universal reason to ensure the notion of autonomy and self-governance, part of us, within our society and within ourselves, is made undesirable and dispensable. Although the cultural project of modernity has ventured to center around the individual by subliming his rationality, this concept of the individual, as Thomas Berry commented about that of late Christianity, may seem to be a splendid compliment to the individual, [but] in reality it diminished in a profound manner the integral being of the individual in ones origin, structure, and destiny.34 In this tradition of transcendence, the individual cannot be truly free because his individuality is seriously compromised. A project of empowering man also compromises man and woman in realitythe biggest irony of modernity.

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Within this transcendental framework, when the construction of man becomes detrimental, it is difcult for the philosophical program to reconnect to the here and now since the transcendent is so disengaged from the thing to be transcended. The damage is felt in peoples existential experiences, and if the experiences are so far removed from the transcendental concerns, the program will not be able to recognize and address the problem. If the problem of the modern subject is caused partly by the shift in the notion of transcendence in Western history, and if, as commonly believed, the Chinese tradition does not share the same notion of transcendence, maybe an examination of the Chinese non/ transcendental orientation and its construction of man will shed light on the problem. II. Transcendence in China and the Confucian Construction of Man The distinction between the Western and the Confucian philosophical traditions, it is believed, lies in the former being grounded in the presumption of transcendence and the latter lacking the notion of transcendence. Even though the early or the tian , the Chinese did have the notion of the dao Chinese lacked a tension between nature and the deity, and the individual was left with no inner forces freed of tradition and convention.35 The Chinese concern for this world and care for the , is here and now, despite their belief in heaven or tianshang made to manifest their lack of concern for the other world and for transcendence.36 In recent years, however, scholars have begun to question these interpretations of Chinese thought. Mou Tsung-san argues that the way of Tian as high above denotes transcendence, while when Tian is invested in the human person and resides internally as human nature, it is immanent. So Tian for the Chinese is in one sense transcendent and in another, immanent. Tu Wei-ming also contends that Tian has a transcendent dimension.37 He argues that the dynamic and ontological identication of men with heaven and earth provides the individual with a path to transcendence and ultimate self-expression.38 Furthermore, Webers famous comment that the Chinese did not have a sense of tension is seriously challenged by Metzgers work.39 The spirituality of Chinese thought seems undeniable. As David Keightley observes, even though the Confucian tradition is ostensibly secular in its manifestations, its strength and endurance cannot be fully explained unless we take into account


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the religious commitment which assisted at that traditions birth and which continued to sustain it.40 In characterizing Chinese spirituality, particularly the sense of transcendence, scholars have also come to agree upon that the Chinese sense of transcendence is qualitatively different from that of the West. For the Chinese, the transcendent does not reside somewhere outside of the world. It is with us and within us. Humanity is at the heart of transcendence. The new Confucians call this version of transcendence inward transcendence, indicating that the search for the realm beyond must of necessity begin by turning inward;41 or immanent transcendence, reinforcing the human ability to move beyond, to transcend our ordinary lives in search of something better.42 Yet, not all are happy with this modied denition of transcendence. As Berthrong contends, The root of the problem lies in the fact that the new Confucians mean something very different by transcendence from what Jewish, Christian, and Muslim theologians (and Enlightenment philosophers such as Kant) intend. Their point, one solidly grounded in Confucian discourse, is that we human beings have a capacity to compare and contrast what is with what is not.43 The new Confucians are dening transcendence in human terms, which, being the opposite of that in the modern West, is what makes scholars such as Hall and Ames uncomfortable.44 But if we go back to the Latin meaning and the Merriam-Webster denition of transcend again, the Chinese denition of transcendence should not cause such a problem. If transcend means to rise above or to go beyond the limits of; to triumph over the negative or restrictive aspects of, the Tian in Chinese experience does imply transcendence. For the Chinese, Tian is above, benign, and represents the triumph over the restrictive aspects of life on the earth. Tian provides the ultimate principle and recourse that are beyond the limitations of humans and the world. Being one with Tian (tianren ) also provides a quasi-religious feeling, in which the heyi Chinese can feel integrated and bond with, and their lives are meaningful in, the whole.45 Thus, the real problem is not whether the Chinese have a notion of transcendence or not. If we allow different notions of transcendence to exist, the Chinese notion should be considered legitimate. The real problem, I suggest, is that, while in the modern West, transcendence has come to indicate a separation, or even a confrontation between the transcendent and the world, the Chinese sense of transcendence is enduringly connected to the world. No matter how much the Chinese yearn for the beyond, they always stay connected to and deeply appreciate this-worldly experiences. This connected form of transcendence, I suggest, contrasts with the modern Western notion of transcendence.

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This dis/connected characteristic of transcendence has great implications for the construction of men and women in both contexts. To understand the implications of a connected form of transcendence for the Chinese, however, and why the Chinese sense of transcendence is obstinately connected, we have to go back into ancient history. As Chung-ying Cheng pointed out, as early as the beginning of the Xia era in 2000 B.C.E., the Chinese had a concept of a personal being as the Lord on High (di ). This being supervised human affairs and controlled human destiny from above.46 In time, however, the fused with the notion of the Tian, which is as notion of the di powerful and life-giving, but is also innite.47 Gradually, a transformawas replaced by the tion occurred and the worship of the di 48 worship of the Tian . This transformation is crucial to understanding why the Chinese are so inclined to unite humanity and heaven and why there is such an optimistic view of humanity. The transformation occurred, I suspect, because of the ecological, social, political, and economic conditions of area the ancient Chinese. Living in a prairie area (the Zhongyuan where Chinese civilization originated), too much or too little rain could mean life or death for the whole population. Chinese history of 2,000 years ago is full of legends of beloved kings ghting the oods and droughts for their people. If Elvin is correct and large hydraulic systems eventually became the dening feature of ancient Chinese agriculture, then the Chinese attitude toward the sky, Tian, or the landscape is indeed paradoxical.49 On the one hand, Tian is part of the supreme, numinous power, and wisdom required that one put oneself into its rhythms and be conscious of ones inability to reshape it. On the other hand, being a natural entity without will, Tian cannot issue orders like a super being but rather has to be explored for its patterns and laws. The landscape was in fact tamed, transformed, and exploited.50 This particular feature of Tian, the highest being in Chinese civilization, made it inevitable that the Chinese have to heavily rely on themselves for survival. With all their humbleness and passiveness in front of Tian, the Chinese had to bring to the fore a humanist spirit that looked to their own inner being for strength and hope. Hence, it is impossible for the Chinese to embrace a sense of transcendence that is utterly above and outside of humans. Instead, as with the ancient Greeks and Romans, the nature of man was so important that even the search for transcendence had to start from humanity. Therefore, as Ying-Shin Yu51 suggests, although all the major civilizations developed their duality of the transcendental and actual worlds during the Axial Period, the Chinese duality differed from that in other civilizations by being not as sharply differenti-


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ated.52 Indeed, the two worlds are so closely connected that there is little sense of conict and negation between the world of God and the world of humans. In the Chinese sense of transcendence, humans and the world are not something to be abandoned or overcome but something to start with. Contrary to the Israelite experiences around and after the Babylon Captivity, when human beings were caught in an extremely desperate situation and survival depended completely upon the whims of their conquerors, and hence a utopian savior became the only hope, 53 in the Chinese situation, the nature of Tian made it possible for the Chinese to embrace this world and humankind itself, in Webers words, naively and optimistically. Hence Confucius says:The Dao is not far from man.When a man pursues and remains away from man, his course cannot be conthe Dao sidered the Dao . In the Chinese mind, there was little faith in original sin or a theory of depraved human nature. Human nature was believed to be imparted from Tian and therefore mostly benevolent and innocent. With this mentality prevailing, Menciuss argument for the inherent goodness of humans easily beat Xunzis negative view and gained dominance among Confucian thinkers.54 In this positive view, common human sentiments were granted unconditional legitimacy and human feelings, concerns, and plights of all shapes were warmly embraced. Rather than adopting higher principles from a God, human consciousness (our common feelings as fellow human beings) and our hearts that know compassion, respect, shame, and right and wrong55 provide moral guidance in our conduct in the world. So here comes the Confucian Golden Rule, Do not do unto others what you would not want others to do unto you.56 So comes also the consistent and all-pervading emphasis on the affective life of human beings. . . . The feeling, emotional aspect of life was considered of primary importance in sustaining people in a human form of existence.57 In this sense, contrary to the common impression, the individual in Confucian humanism enjoys the highest trust and acceptance. The individual embodies the qualities of the universe itself, and the personal-cosmic communion . . . became the encompassing context within which humans saw most clearly the meaning of their existence and the cosmic function that they fullled.58 From a Confucian perspective, the good and the virtuous do not come from a disconnected deity; they come from Tian and therefore, with the personal-cosmic communion, comes from the innermost source of men. This great communion, and the godlike role assumed by the Confucian man, caused great alarm to the Jesuit and early Protestant missionaries because it implied much too great an unbroken and uncorrupted link

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between human nature (without any infusion of grace beyond its original mandating by the Dao) and the ultimate referent of the world.59 In this context, the Confucian construction of men by their relat), although a political and cultural edness (renzhe renye project, should be seen as a way to embrace the most natural state of man and the most signicant experiences of humans. The connected form of transcendence necessitates that the construction of men stay close to what is essential to human experience. For Confucius, the most natural state of man was man in relationship with parents: The relationship between son and father signaled the difference between humans and animals.60 Indeed, such relationships appeared to be the most poignant experiences of most human groups in ancient times. Not only the Chinese, but many other ancient societies stressed human inter-relatedness, and even lial piety was predominantly emphasized in some ancient societies. According to Moore, at the time of Christ, in Jewish society lial piety was considered the weightiest of the weighty among all the commandments.61 Needless to say, this construction of man has caused great problems in Chinese history. Dogmatism and ossication, and even abuses of dissemblers with whom Confucius himself was foremost concerned,62 have resulted in the oppression of the individual and the deprivation of his rights and freedoms. Dening persons as always in relation to others easily casts them as individuals with no need for individual space; therefore, concepts such as individual rights, freedom, and dignity are difcult to generate. As Chung-ying Cheng noted, in Confucius denition of man, individuals could lose themselves in a network of social and political or ethical relationships63 and are easily suffocated and greatly constrained in their individual development and self-realization. The irony of Confucian humanism is that while it attempts to embrace the most existential, most fundamental living experiences of men, it often ends up being used to oppress men. The failure of Confucianism, some have concluded, is due to the ever-present danger of dissemblers, due to the thin line between informed taste and ad hominem argument, between righteous moral indignation and self-righteousness.64 Above all, it is believed, it is due to the provincialism and parochialism which characterize Confucianism.65 However, I argue that the reason there is always the thin line and always the danger of dissemblers is not the limited scope of vision, but the results of a connected form of transcendence that overly relies on humanity. The problems in the Chinese ways of thinking about and acting upon human beings come as direct consequences of the


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Chinese condence in human judgment and interpretation. In the context of the connected form of transcendence, there is no absolute point of reference beyond humans. When right and wrong are left to mens hearts and feelings, when individual interpretation and judgment claims authority, it is inevitable that manipulation and hypocrisy will occur. Perhaps Robert Neville is correct that the attempt to characterize spirituality without reference to the ultimate is nally reductive and self-defeating.66 The inherent danger67 is indeed the problem of the Chinese sense of transcendence that does not place Tian above and against humans. This danger, and the fearful realization that the individual might not be able to summon a godlike ow of moral power within himself68 has long been felt by Confucians. The heavenly principle69 supposedly found within humans is just as elusive as the heavenly feeling70 in the human mind is incipient. The profound sense of predicament,71 I suggest, is the moving force behind the NeoConfucian project. The Neo-Confucians were not so much concerned about the question of linking this [purely transcendent] realm to the experiential one but were preoccupied with the task of elucidating the character of the purely metaphysical realm.72 The purpose of the project was to anchor the elusive and the incipient solidly in the realm of Tian. Certainly, it is to pull the connected form of transcendence in the direction of the divine to avoid and correct the fallibility of humanity. Thus to be human is to realize a transcendent quality. . If ones mind was correct, Wang Yangming calls it daohsin ones consciousness became one with this mind of the dao. Wang is seeking a mind which is purely heavenly principle, and that is the original condition, the ultimate good.73 With doubt and with struggle, the Confucians remain faithful to a positive view of humanity. Yet, if therein lies inherent danger, therein also lies inherent advantages.The connected form of transcendence, with its commitment to the human and the existential, also has the potential to prevent any ideological construction and treatment of men from going too far beyond and against humanity. In Confucianism, the ultimate point of reference is contingent human sentiments and experiences; therefore, the Confucian ways of thinking about humans are solidly anchored within the humanist realm. Like the modern construction of man based on reason, the Confucian construction of man based on inter-relatedness is intrinsically dangerous. Unlike the Western construction, however, within the framework of a connected form of transcendence, the Confucian program has the potential to recognize and address its own problems and therefore has a remarkable capacity for self-correction. Even with the great value given to ren , Confucius and his followers made sure that careful

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consideration would be given to what is inside the individual, his does not entail heart and feelings. For Confucius, to be ren 74 abandon[ing] ones own person or dissolving oneself at all. Rather, to have concern for others and care for others interests, one always has to extend oneself into the circumstances of another.75 Confucius contends that ren emerges out of oneself.76 To shu also begins with being true to oneself, and, on that basis, negotiating harmony with ones context.77 The difference between person-making in Confucianism and the making of the modern subject78 in the modern West is that in the former, the selfs existential experiences, feelings and sentiments, and impulses are the point of departure while in the latter, they are exactly what is to be negated in order to form the ideal self.79 In the harshest situations in the modern West, the Other to the self ideal, within the self and in society, are excluded from humanity and alienated. In the harshest situations in China, on the other hand, when the interpretations and elements of Confucian thought are turned cruelly against men, alternative interpretations are never exhausted. Resources at the root of Confucian thought can always be initiated to curb and work against the unfortunate trend. There may be oppression and cruelty, but hardly much alienation. There exists a strong, selfgenerated force within Confucianism to impede treatment of people that is disconnected from our natural human needs and that estranges humanity.

III. Discussion As discussed above, if we are willing to consider the differences between the transcendence that starts from but overcomes the restrictive aspects of the world and the transcendence that has little connection to the world, then it should be noted that in the West transcendence has taken on a more disconnected form. We should also consider the Chinese notion of transcendence, which, although very different from that of the West, is a legitimate notion of transcendence. Rather than calling the Chinese notion of transcendence imminent or inward transcendence, I suggest that the term connected form of transcendence may be more helpful in comparing and contrasting the Chinese and the modern Western notions of transcendence and their different constructions and treatments of man. In the West, while the disconnected form of transcendence has helped generate notions such as individual rights, freedom, and dignity, it has also removed the construction of man from a commitment to the existential experiences of humanity and therefore


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leaves room for the potential estrangement of men. As Fingarette notes, the doctrine of individual rights may have profound potential as a socially disruptive and anti-human force.80 To the extent that the postmodern crisis is the crisis of the modern subject, the inability of the Western construction of man to address the marginalized and alienated part of humanity is exposed. When estrangement does take place, the disconnected form of transcendence also makes it difcult for men to reconnect to the existential and the experiential. In the Chinese context, lacking an absolute point of reference, the actual treatment of men is at risk of being swayed by human aws. However, leaving nothing set in stone and forever tuning to human consciousness and deeply felt human sentiments, the Confucian construction of man contains a remarkable ability to recognize and struggle against harmful interpretations and practices which may or may not originate from Confucian roots. The theoretical elaborations and practical implementation of the Confucian construction are perpetually checked, justied, or rejected by what people feel inside. This remarkable ability of Confucianism and the exibility that comes with it are precisely the outcome of the connected form of transcendence. True, abundant incidences of terrible violations of humanity have occurred in Chinese history. It is also evident that in general, the human condition is much better in the West since modernity than it is in China. However, the alienation of men, the violence against humanity based on justied ideologies or science could hardly happen in Chinese cultural contexts without serious questions and challenges arising from deeply felt common human sentiments. This is probably why, as one of the longeststanding traditions in the world, Confucianism has undergone profound transformations but is still able to maintain its own spiritual identity.81 The exibility and the humanist spirit that characterize it make it an inexhaustible source from which humanity can draw in its struggles. This is probably also why individuals in Chinese culture, where the promotion of the collective good dominates the concern for individual interests, still have room to maintain a strong sense of individual autonomy. Even in social and political circumstances where Confucian doctrines were turned against the individual and oppression and suffocation of the individual was widespread, the preciously preserved internal resources of man remained strong to resist external pressures and individuals seldom found them alienated within themselves.82

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The author would like to thank Professor Chung-ying Cheng for his invaluable comments. The author would also like to thank the anonymous reviewer who offered an extensive and insightful commentary. 1. David L. Hall and Roger T. Ames, Thinking through Confucius (New York: State University of New York Press, 1987), 318. 2. Peter Wagner, A Sociology of Modernity: Liberty and Discipline (New York: Routledge, 1994), xii. 3. Hall and Ames, Thinking through Confucius, 23. 4. Herbert Marcuse, One-Dimensional Man (Boston: Beacon Press, 1964/1991). 5. For example, Max Horkheimer and Theodor W. Adorno, Dialectic of Enlightenment (New York: Continuum, 1976); Berel Lang, Act and Idea in the Nazi Genocide (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1990). 6. Thomas Berry, Individualism and Holism in Chinese Tradition: The Religious Cultural Context, in Confucian Spirituality, vol. I, eds. Tu Weiming and Mary Evelyn Tucker (New York: The Crossroad Publishing Company, 2003). 7. Hall and Ames, Thinking through Confucius, 71. 8. Langenscheidts New College Merriam-Webster English Dictionary (Springeld: Langenscheidt, 1996), 1253. 9. Michel Foucault, The Ethics of the Concern for Self as a Practice of Freedom, in Foucault, Ethics: Subjectivity and Truth, ed. P. Rabinow (New York: New Press, 1997), 285. 10. Max Weber, The Religion of China, Confucianism and Taoism. Trans. and ed. Hans H. Gerth with an introduction by Ching-Kun Yang (New York:The Free Press, 1951), 228. 11. Donald J. Munro, The Concept of Man in Early China (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1969). 12. Ibid., 44. 13. Ibid., 45. 14. Ibid., 46. 15. Plato, Phaedo 79d, in Munro, Concept of Man, 46. 16. Robert Cumming Neville, Contemporary Confucian Spirituality and Multiple Religious Identity, in Confucian Spirituality, vol. II, eds. Tu Weiming and Mary Evelyn Tucker (New York: The Crossroad Publishing Company, 2003), 445. 17. Berry, Individualism and Holism, 40. 18. Charles Taylor, Source of the Self: The Making of the Modern Identity (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1989), 156. 19. T. M. S. Evens, Anthropology as Ethics, Nondualism and the Conduct of Sacrice (New York: Berghahn Books, 2008), 87. 20. Chung-ying Cheng, Theoretical Links between Kant and Confucianism: Preliminary Remarks, Journal of Chinese Philosophy 33, no. 1 (2006): 34. 21. Evens, Anthropology as Ethics, 87. 22. Ibid., 92. 23. Theodor W. Adorno, Negative Dialects (New York: Seanury Press, 1979), 237. 24. Ibid., 238. 25. Evens, Anthropology as Ethics, 87. 26. Adorno, Negative Dialects, 241. 27. Ibid., 256. 28. Ibid., 241. 29. Lang, Act and Idea, 18788. 30. Wagner, Sociology of Modernity, 38. 31. Ibid., 41. 32. Evens, Anthropology as Ethics, 92. 33. Ibid., 88. 34. Berry, Individualism and Holism, 41. 35. Weber, Religion of China, 235.


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36. Ibid. 37. See Hall and Ames, Thinking through Confucius, 204. 38. Tu Wei-Ming, Confucian Thought, Selfhood as Creative Transformation (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1985), 125. 39. Thomas A. Metzger, Escape from Predicament, Neo-Confucianism and Chinas Evolving Political Culture (New York: Columbia University Press, 1977). 40. David Keightley, The Religious Commitment: Shang Theology and the Genesis of Chinese Political Culture, History of Religions 17, nos. 3 & 4 (1978): 224. 41. Ying-Shin Yu, Between the Heavenly and the Human, in Confucian Spirituality, vol. I, eds. Tu Weiming and Mary Evelyn Tucker (New York: The Crossroad Publishing Company, 2003), 75. 42. John Berthrong, New Confucian Spirituality in Interreligious Dialogue, in Confucian Spirituality, vol. II, eds. Tu Weiming and Mary Evelyn Tucker (New York: The Crossroad Publishing Company, 2003), 433. 43. Ibid., 432. 44. Ibid. 45. Hall and Ames, Thinking through Confucius, 24344. 46. Chung-ying Cheng, Classical Chinese Views of Reality and Divinity, in Confucian Spirituality, vol. I, eds. Tu Weiming and Mary Evelyn Tucker (New York: The Crossroad Publishing Company, 2003), 433. 47. Ibid. 48. Ibid. 49. Mark Elvin, The Retreat of the Elephants, An Environmental History of China (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2004). 50. Ibid., 323. 51. Ying-Shin Yu, Between the Heavenly and the Human, in Confucian Spirituality, vol. I, ed. Tu Weiming and Mary Evelyn Tucker (New York: The Crossroad Publishing Company, 2003), 433. 52. Ibid., 68. 53. The disconnected form of transcendence in modern Western civilization may have been partially just the result of this historical condition of the Jews, considering that Christianity is only a modication or further development of Judaism. 54. Mary Evelyn Tucker, Introduction, in Confucian Spirituality, vol. I, eds. Tu Weiming and Mary Evelyn Tucker (New York: The Crossroad Publishing Company, 2003), 9. 55. Mencius (VIA: 6). 56. Analects (12:2; 15:24). 57. Berry, Individualism and Holism, 96. 58. Ibid., 97. 59. Berthrong, New Confucian Spirituality, 431. 60. Analects (12:2, 15:24). 61. George Foot Moore, Judaism, vol. 2 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1927), 131. 62. Hall and Ames, Thinking through Confucius, 310. 63. Chung-ying Cheng, New Dimensions of Confucian and New-Confucian Philosophy (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1991), 157. 64. Hall and Ames, Thinking through Confucius, 310. 65. Ibid., 308. 66. Neville, Contemporary Confucian Spirituality, 442. 67. Hall and Ames, Thinking through Confucius, 310. 68. Metzger, Escape from Predicament, 49. 69. Ibid., 100. 70. Ibid., 199. 71. Ibid. 72. Ibid., 100. 73. Ibid., 100. 74. Hall and Ames, Thinking through Confucius, 116. 75. Ibid., 116.

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76. Analects, 12:1. 77. Hall and Ames, Thinking through Confucius, 288. 78. Guoping Zhao, The Making of the Modern Subject: A Cross-Cultural Analysis, Educational Theory 57, no. 1 (2007): 7588. 79. Ibid. 80. Herbert Fingarette, Rules, Rituals, and Responsibility: Essays Dedicated to Herbert Fingarette, ed. Mary I. Bockover (La Salle: Open Court, 1991), 191. 81. Tu Wei-Ming, Confucian Thought, Selfhood as Creative Transformation, 55. 82. Some psychologists note that in socially oriented societies, the cost of interdependence is experienced as suppression of individual development, whereas in individualistically oriented cultures, the cost of independence is experienced as alienation. See Patricia M. Greeneld, Independence and Interdependence as Developmental Scripts: Implications for Theory, Research, and Practice, in Cross-Cultural Roots of Minority Child Development, eds. Patricia M. Greeneld and Rodney R. Cocking (Hillsdale: Lawrence Erlbaum, 1994), 5.