Piecemeal Progress: Moral Traditions, Modern Confucianism, and Comparative Philosophy

Stephen C. Angle

in Ethics in Early China

Published by Hong Kong University Press

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9789888028931
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9789882209800 | DOI:
Piecemeal Progress: Moral Traditions, Modern Confucianism, and Comparative Philosophy

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Chad Hansen, Alasdair MacIntyre, and Thomas Metzger all emphasize the importance of holistic units of analysis such as traditions and discourses. This chapter focuses on the positive things one learns from their holistic emphases. One lesson of this analysis is the importance of a critical spirit to the flourishing of a tradition. The chapter therefore addresses the long-standing idea that the expression of Confucian ethical truths is governed by a quasi-genealogical transmission, or dàotǒng, since the dàotǒng idea is often taken to fit poorly with genuine critical rationality. It argues to the contrary, showing that the function of dàotǒng in modern Confucianism does not undermine its status as a vital and developing tradition. Finally, the chapter shows that, despite the value of the holistic approaches canvassed, each risks significantly misconstruing the nature of cross-tradition philosophical learning.

Keywords: holistic units; traditions; discourses; Confucian ethical truths; dàotǒng

Chapter.  9540 words. 

Subjects: Society and Culture

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