China's New Confucianism: Politics and Everyday Life in a Changing Society
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What is it like to be a Westerner teaching political philosophy in an officially Marxist state? Why do Chinese sex workers sing karaoke with their customers? And why do some Communist Party cadres get promoted if they care for their elderly parents? In this entertaining and illuminating book, one of the few Westerners to teach at a Chinese university draws on his personal experiences to paint an unexpected portrait of a society undergoing faster and more sweeping changes than anywhere else on earth. With a storyteller's eye for detail, Daniel Bell observes the rituals, routines, and tensions of daily life in China. China's New Confucianism makes the case that as the nation retreats from communism, it is embracing a new Confucianism that offers a compelling alternative to Western liberalism.
Bell provides an insider's account of Chinese culture and, along the way, debunks a variety of stereotypes. He presents the startling argument that Confucian social hierarchy can actually contribute to economic equality in China. He covers such diverse social topics as sex, sports, and the treatment of domestic workers. He considers the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, wondering whether Chinese overcompetitiveness might be tempered by Confucian civility. And he looks at education in China, showing the ways Confucianism impacts his role as a political theorist and teacher.
By examining the challenges that arise as China adapts ancient values to contemporary society, China's New Confucianism enriches the dialogue of possibilities available to this rapidly evolving nation.
In a new preface, Bell discusses the challenges of promoting Confucianism in China and the West.
emotional bonding, they may seek out other forms of sexual liaisons in the form of consensual extramarital affairs with other adults. The more common choice, at least in the minds of customers, may be between going to karaoke bars and having an affair. One regular customer to karoake bars told me that he would never dream of having a consensual affair – he seemed to draw a sharp moral line between karaoke-style sex and the deeper and more threatening (to his family) emotional bonds formed during
might ask? Should the state not try to say anything about civility and leave it up to spectators and athletes to be “natural,” to follow their instincts even if it translates into arrogant and unsportsmanlike behavior and vulgar displays of national pride?liii Should the Chinese chant “we’re number one!”, similar to the patriotic crowds at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles? To my mind, there’s nothing wrong with a bit of official encouragement of civility. If China can pull off the first truly
The student shouldn’t stand in awe of the teacher. Rather, “the younger generation should be held in awe. After all, how do we know that those yet to come will not surpass our contemporaries? It’s only when one reaches forty or fifty years of age and still has done nothing of note that we should withdraw our sense of awe” (9.23). Professor Hu: Fine words, but how can we encourage students to develop their critical skills if they’re supposed to promote harmony and refrain from putting forward
We can split the debate into two halves, and the 181 students will switch positions at the halfway point. This way, you will be able to look at both sides of the question. Remember, this is an academic seminar, the aim is to learn and critically evaluate arguments, not to defend particular political positions. In the debate, the students raised an interesting argument not covered in the reading: namely, that most soldiers sign up to defend national interests, and it would be hard to justify
other hand, the boundary between economic and academic spheres is more rigidly enforced. I’ve asked graduate students to help me with classical Chinese. We do regular tutorials, going through the classical texts slowly and carefully. No matter how much I try, they refuse to be compensated. So I’ve had to exchange their work for work of my own, such as help with their English studies. The truth is, that what I do for them rarely matches what they do for me. They claim that they’re also learning