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Confucian Traditions in East Asian Modernity

Confucian Traditions in East Asian Modernity

Moral Education and Economic Culture in Japan and the Four Mini-Dragons

Edited by Tu Wei-ming

ISBN 9780674160873

Publication date: 03/01/1996

How Confucian traditions have shaped styles of being modern in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore presents a particular challenge to the intellectual community. Explorations of Confucian network capitalism, meritocratic democracy, and liberal education have practical implications for a sense of self, community, economy, and polity.

Seventeen scholars, of varying fields of study, here bring their differing perspectives to a consideration of the Confucian role in industrial East Asia. Confucian concerns such as self-cultivation, regulation of the family, social civility, moral education, well-being of the people, governance of the state, and universal peace provide a general framework for the study. The Confucian Problematik—how a fiduciary community can come into being through exemplary teaching and moral transformation—underlies much of the discussion. The contributors question all unexamined assumptions about the rise of industrial East Asia, at the same time exploring the ideas, norms, and values that underlie the moral fabric of East Asian societies.

Is Confucian ethics a common discourse in industrial East Asia? The answer varies according to academic discipline, regional specialization, and personal judgment. Although there are conflicting interpretations and diverging perspectives, this study represents the current thinking of some of the most sophisticated minds on this vital and intriguing subject.


  • In this excellent volume, the editor Tu Wei-ming has brought together one of the best specialist collections of papers on the role and significance of Confucianism in contemporary East Asia. The book’s strength lies in three distinct areas: its geographical breadth…its historical depth…and its interdisciplinary mix… [A] rich and complex volume.

    —Roger Goodman, Asian Affairs


  • Tu Wei-ming is Director of the Institute for Advanced Humanistic Studies, Peking University, and Harvard-Yenching Professor of Chinese History and Philosophy and of Confucian Studies, Emeritus, Harvard University. He directed the Harvard-Yenching Institute from 1996 to 2008.

Book Details

  • 432 pages
  • 6-1/4 x 9-1/4 inches
  • Harvard University Press