Roger T. AMES. Taking Confucian Religiousness On Its Own Terms[J]. International Comparative Literature, 2018, 1(1): 17-31.
Citation: Roger T. AMES. Taking Confucian Religiousness On Its Own Terms[J]. International Comparative Literature, 2018, 1(1): 17-31.

Taking Confucian Religiousness On Its Own Terms

  • Received Date: 2017-08-23
  • Rev Recd Date: 2017-12-24
  • The distinguished French sinologist Marcel Granet observes rather starkly that "Chinese wisdom has no need of the idea of God." Albeit in different formulations, this same characterization of classical Chinese philosophy has had many iterations by many of our most prominent sinologists. One important outcome of taking Granet's insight into Chinese cosmology seriously is that it will enable us to disambiguate some of the central philosophical vocabulary of classical Chinese philosophy by identifying equivocations that emerge when we elide classical Greek ontological assumptions with those cosmological presuppositions indigenous to the classical Chinese worldview. The philosophical implications of Granet's seemingly off-hand observation that China did not need the idea of a transcendent God are fundamental and pervasive, entailing as this claim does the plethora of dualistic categories that follow from such a reality/appearance distinction. When we turn to Confucian religiousness, we find that it does not appeal to an independent, retrospective, and substantive Divine Agency as the reality behind appearance and as the source of all cosmic significance. The world is an autogenerative, "self-so-ing" process-ziran er ran 自然而然-that has the energy of self-transformation within it. And human religious feelings themselves are a motor of religious meaning, understood prospectively as an unfolding and inclusive spirituality achieved within the qualitatively inspired activities of the family, the community, and the natural world. Human beings are both a source of and contributors to the numinosity that inspires the world in which we live.
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