Reflection essay


ModernizingConfucianism and new Confucianism

Inchapter seven of the text, Sor-Hoon Tan investigates the alteringconfigurations of Chinese culture. In the chapter entitledModernizing Confucianism and new Confucianism, the author analyzesthe Xin Rujia or contemporary neo-Confucians phenomenon (Louie 141). The author focuses on a diverse faction of scholars and authors thatadvocate cultural technique for situating and comprehending China andChinese culture globally. The author chiefly focuses on the aspectof modernization and the West influence on China to depict her views.In the chapter, Tan explains that Confucianism, which is a philosophythat seeks inspiration from a mythical past, has become obsoletebecause societies that previously observed this ideology are underthe influence of modernity. However, the author writes that theclaims of Confucian being dead are premature. Tan agrees thatalthough Confucianism has been overwhelmed by western practice andthought for some time, the philosophy has experienced a revival inmost East Asian nations recently. In most East Asian countries,Confucianism is a mainstream ideology particularly within the Chineseculture with a significant role in modernization.

Thischapter is highly informative and enlightening. The author writesabout ways in which the various writers are calling for novelapproaches or reconfiguring and resituating meanings with the Chineseculture. Tan uses the article to exhibit ways in which Confucianismhas contributed massively to modernization in different waysincluding technological advancement, various production modes,equality, enhanced social mobility and political participation amongothers. Moreover, Tan makes concrete and agreeable points concerningthe change of Confucianism to modernism. For several years, China wasembedded in the conventional dynastic structure. When the people wereliving under the Confucianism authority it was difficult to offer orraise questioning concerns against the authority. However, as Tanelaborates that since the mid-19th century, the country has beenexposed to the western politics and perspectives, as well as thoughts(138). Many intellectuals from the country have started seeking aperfect ideology, which would unite the country on the same levelwith the West.

Additionally,I like the arguments, which Tan makes in her article. According toTan, many past and neo-Confucianism thinkers, cultural concerns areof essentiality to their nation and expansion of the metaphysicalpreoccupations as opposed the new Confucianism being a movement. Ialso agree with Tan that New Confucianism is highly different fromthe early forms of this philosophy. According to Tan “NewConfucianism differs from earlier Confucianism in having to respondto Western culture(142).” I concur with this opinion because the response of newConfucianism is culturally focused in elaborating the culture primacyand in explaining the challenges of western modernity to China.

EarlyConfucianism was highly ethnocentric whereby many thinkers were ofthe opinion that the Chinese culture and notions were superior to allother ways of lives from other countries. Thus, it was difficult forpeople of the early Chinese Confucianism to accept new philosophiessuch as western thoughts into their culture. I believe that this wasa massive setback in China acquiring modernization. Therefore, Isupport the views of Tan that the challenge of China can only besolved using genuine comprehension of the country’s culture in itsactualities and potentialities (142). Furthermore, I agree with theresponse of the new Confucian to iconoclastic modernizers. People ofthis movement such a Tang, Mou and Carsun Chang made instrumentalcontributions to the movement. Moreover, Tan writes that according toCarsun Chang, new culture and democracy does not need to replace theprevailing Chinese culture entirely. This thinker was of the viewthat traditional culture such as the notions of Confucianism containsa perennial value. Other authors such as Liang who Tan discusses inher test also have massive contributions to the new Confucianism inChina. Tan writes, “Lianginsisted that true Confucian must live life to the full, by valuingevery present moment rather than being enslaved by externalregulations and goals(144).” This exhibits that Laing had an open mind of acceptingmodernization as a way of adding value to the Chinese people andculture. Therefore, I concur with the views of Tan that cultureoffers people identity and it is what makes people distinct fromothers. In analyzing the various sides of the thinkers that shequotes in her text, Tan provides an objective analysis of theirviews. She not only applauds the efforts of the thinkers on their newConfucianism views but also criticizes them by highlighting theirweaknesses. Thus, she makes credible and balanced views concerningnew Confucianism.

Furthermore,I concur with the view of Tan that replacing the transition Chineseculture in its entirety in the modernized world would not be right tothe country. The best way to advance the country is to teach thetraditional learning to expand the knowledge of the country. Tanargues, “China’sproblem resulted from clinging to obsolete autocratic institutionsappropriate only for the age of chaos(138).” Thus, China’s development and progress was hindered byits persistence, to hold onto traditional Confucianism notions. Thus,I believe that China has a lot to contribute to the world by adoptingsome of the western thought but also by expanding its culture andtraditions to spur the modernized globe. The country can combine thetop philosophies by embracing modern thoughts and its Asian valuessuch as Confucianism to enhance human development and rights.

Inconclusion, new Confucianism has made a substantial contribution tochanging the Chinese perspectives in the modern world. It has allowedthe country to the integral with other nations in the universebecause of technology, democracy, sustained economic growth and novelsocial differentiation. Tan uses the perspectives of differentschools to highlight this advances to portray the interconnectedChinese and western culture. I believe that the article is insightfulin ways, which China can transform and integrate the Confucianismphilosophy and shape its culture in a modern way.


Louie,Kam. TheCambridge Companion to Modern Chinese Culture.Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2008. Pp. 135-154. Print.