COMPARATIVE LITERATURE STUDIES The larger issue alluded to in this talk--tradition and state dominance versus individual freedom--is more fully addressed in the lengthy expositions of the final two chapters. Can a conceptual basis for the rights of the individual be found in traditional Chinese thought? According to Yu, the traditional reciprocity on which Confucian values are based presents an obstacle as long as it is conceived in hierarchical terms. However, a conceptualization offered by the Qing scholar Dai Zhi, based on the notion that everyone desires life fulfillment, presents a hopeful line of exploration. But does not China's unique situation and the need to maintain social order and stability take priority over individual rights? Yu responds by pointing out that social order "can quickly become an end in itself, to be sought or maintained regardless of other equally important values" (368), such as freedom of religion, an issue further discussed in the book's concluding pages. Yu's prose, though demanding, is refreshingly free of jargon. The flow of exposition is at times interrupted by a cumbersome sentence or the incorporation of a tangent of detailed textual analysis, but such disturbances are clearly the effect of the author's broad reach
Comparative Literature Studies – Penn State University Press
Published: Oct 16, 2010
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