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For more than a century scholars both inside and outside of China have undertaken the project of modernizing Confucianism, but few have been as successful or influential as Li Zehou (b. 1930). Since the 1950s, Li’s extensive efforts in this regard have in turn exerted a profound influence on Chinese modernization and resulted in his becoming one of China’s most prominent social critics. To transform Confucianism into a contemporary resource for positive change in China and elsewhere, Li has reinterpreted major ideas and concepts of classical Confucianism, including a rereading of the entire Analects, replete with his own philosophical speculations derived from other Chinese and Western traditions (most notably, the ideas of Kant and Marx), and developed an aesthetical theory that has proved especially far-reaching.
Although the authors of this volume hail from East Asia, North America, and Europe and a wide variety of academic backgrounds and fields of study, they are unanimous in their appreciation of Li’s contributions to not only an evolving Confucian philosophy, but also world philosophy. They view Li first and foremost as a sui generis thinker with broad global interests and not one who fits neatly into any one philosophical category, Chinese or Western. This is clearly reflected in the chapters included here, which are organized into three parts: Li Zehou and the Modernization of Confucianism, Li Zehou’s Reconception of Confucian Philosophy, and Li Zehou’s Aesthetical Theory and Confucianism. Together they form a coherent narrative that reveals how Li has, for more than half a century, creatively studied, absorbed, and reconceptualized the Confucian ideational tradition to integrate it with Western philosophical elements and develop his own philosophical insights and original theories. At the same time, he has transformed and modernized Confucianism for the purpose of both coalescing with and reconstructing a new world cultural order.
University of Hawaiʻi Press
Asia, China, religion
Asian History | History of Religions of Eastern Origins
Ames, Roger T. and Jia, Jinhua, "Li Zehou and Confucian Philosophy" (2018). UH Press Book Previews. 6.