Confucianism - Freedom and democracy 2.0

Is Confucianism a religion?


An introduction to this series of posts  Is Confucianism a religion?  Yes. No. Maybe. Who cares?

The elevator pitch for this series of posts is that America has deep cultural problems emerging from the left and the right. Communication is poor or non-existent, but democracy needs communication to function. Otherwise we descend into tribes – as we are seeing already.

Some American secular liberals are willing to talk with some conservatives, but are afraid of running afoul of some biblical language with which they are unfamiliar. Terms like virtue, tolerance, benevolence and love are absent from liberal discourse. In any case, many secular liberals themselves can claim no particular moral foundation for their positions. Once beyond rights, which can be ephemeral, what is the rationale for moral behavior?

We need new ways to talk with each other without fear and loathing and with tolerance and benevolence.

Confucianism provides guidance and a base. Its moral values align with Christianity and Judaism and it does not require discussion of salvation, sin, eternal reward or the power of prayer. We act morally because it is the human, and humane, thing to do.

Confucianism provides a moral base for secular liberals and a way to talk with some conservatives without fear. It is the necessary adjustment in the 21st century to the pluralism and globalism and frustration with Kantian rules and Benthamite adding up of costs and benefits. It is civic republicanism with a moral base.

Is Confucianism a Religion? consists of several posts that answer different parts of this question. This set of posts is part of a larger work called Confucianism - Freedom and Democracy 2.0, forthcoming.

The motivation for writing these posts is to inform secular liberals of the status of Confucianism as a religion. Their interlocutors will want to know. If it is a religion, then why not just stick with or go back to Christianity? That might be too big a retreat for some secular liberals to accept. Progressive rights–talk eventually reaches a dead end in any case. Either way, Confucianism works functionally as a replacement.


What follows is a table of contents to Is Confucianism a Religion?  Note – postings will come over the next few days, after May 1.


 I.    Getting Unstuck 1 - How can we talk with one another?  Can we talk? Our small d democratic failure

 II.  What is Confucianism?

III.  Getting Unstuck - the goal

 IV.  A Sidebar - Margaret Anscombe, Jonathan Haidt and Sam Harris

 V.   Another Sidebar - Augustine, Garry Wills, MacIntyre, rights and the Church today

VI. What is a virtue ethic?

VII. Is Confucianism a religion? 

VIII. But Isn’t Confucianism …

 IX.  So what to do now?



 Appendices -

A01. Rules golden and silver

A02. Confucian spirituality

A03. Is there a teleology?

A04. Is there a Confucian deity?

A05. Are there sacred texts? Are they the words of god?

A06.  Do you have to follow rituals?

A07.  What are a person’s obligations to leaders and family and others?


Next: Getting Unstuck 1- How can we talk with one another?