A Confucian Constitutional Order: How China’s Ancient Past Can Shape Its Political Future by Jiang Qing, translated by Edmund Ryden, edited by Daniel A. Bell and Ruiping Fan (review)

A Confucian Constitutional Order: How China’s Ancient Past Can Shape Its Political Future by... BOOK REVIEWS A Confucian Constitutional Order: How China's Ancient Past Can Shape Its Political Future.ByJiangQing.TranslatedbyEdmundRyden.EditedbyDanielA.Belland RuipingFan.Princeton,NJ:PrincetonUniversityPress,2013.Pp.vii+256.Hardcover$39.50,isbn978-0-691-15460-2. ReviewedbyStephen C. Angle WesleyanUniversity sangle@wesleyan.edu How important is Jiang Qing, whose extraordinary proposals for political change makeupthecoreofthenewbookA Confucian Constitutional Order: How China's Ancient Past Can Shape Its Political Future?InhisIntroductiontothevolume,coeditor Daniel Bell maintains that Jiang's views are "intensely controversial" and thatconversationsaboutpoliticalreforminChinararelyfailtoturntoJiang'sproposals.Atleastinmyexperience,thisissomethingofanexaggeration.Chinesepoliticalthinkingtodayishighlypluralistic,andformanyparticipantsJiangissimplya curiosity findeedtheyareawareofhim.Still,forthreereasonsJiangisverymuch --i worthourattention.First,thereisavibrantandgrowingcommunityofacademics, activists,andintellectualsinChinawhoengageConfucianismasalive,contemporarysourceofmeaning,andJiangisclearlyoneoftheleadersofthisgroup.Second, explicitlyConfucianpracticesarebeingrevivedorre-inventedinmanyareasofChinesesociety,andagoodnumberofthosewhoaredrawntotheseactivitiesareinspired by Jiang (for example, by his handbook on reciting the Classics) or even supporters of Jiang (witness the fact that Jiang was able to establish hisYangming JingsheAcademywithprivatecapital).Finally,somethinkerswhoarequitesympathetictoConfucianism revenidentifyasConfucians indJiang'sideasverytrou--o --f bling.WethushaveamplereasontogiveJiangseriousattention,andthiswell-designed volume makes it possible to gain access to and engage with Jiang's arguments in English. Thebookiscomprisedoffourmajorparts:Bell'ssubstantialIntroduction;three essaysbyJiang;fourshortercriticalessaysbyJosephChan,BaiTongdong,Chenyang Li,andWangShaoguang;andextensiveresponsesbyJiang.Bell'sintroductoryessay provides a helpful biography of Jiang that details his changing relationships with bothMarxismandthe"NewConfucianism"ofTangJunyiandMouZongsan.Inthe finalsectionoftheIntroduction,BellalsoreflectsonpossibleareasinwhichJiang andhiscriticsmightfindmorecommongroundthanJianghassofarbeenwilling to grant; as Bell notes, in the present volume Jiang refuses to make even a single concession. Jiang'sthreeessayseachconcentrateonakeyaspectofhispoliticalblueprintfor afutureConfucianChina.Chapter1explicateshisideaofthreefoldlegitimacy(sacred,historical,andpopular)andthetricamerallegislaturethatheaccordinglyproposes.Chapter2introducesaninstitutionhecallstheAcademy(TaiXue),apowerful supervisorybodymadeupofConfucianscholarswiththe"authoritytoappraiseand PhilosophyEast&WestVolume64,Number2April2014502­506 ©2014byUniversityofHawai`iPress adjudicatetherightnessofany[state]policy"(p.57).Inchapter3,Jiangexplainshis conceptionofthestateasanenduringspiritualandorganicentitythatisbestheaded notbyanelectedofficialbutbyahereditaryalbeitlargelysymbolicmonarch,apositionbestfilledincontemporaryChina,heargues,bytheheirofConfucius.Thecriticalessaysinthebook'sthirdsectioncoverarangeoftopics.ChanarguesthatJiang ismistakentoseekanimpositionofConfucianismasacomprehensivedoctrine(in Chan'stermsthisisaformof"extremeperfectionism"),thoughChanseesroomfor Confucianvaluestobeadvancedinmorepiecemealfashion.Baisaysthatadopting the religious and metaphysical approach to Confucianism that Jiang derives from HandynastyConfucianismisamistake,andarguesthataConfucianismasuniversally accessible political philosophy, based in pre-Qin texts like the Analects and Mencius, is more suited to the contemporary pluralistic world. Li also challenges J iang'sunderstandingof"heaven(tian),"arguingforamoreimmanentversionofthat ideaandthusformorecompatibilitywithdemocraticpolitics.Finally,Wangdisputes Jiang'sassertionthatthepresent-dayChineseregimelackslegitimacyandarguesthat whatChina(and,forthatmatter,theWest)needsismoregenuine(andegalitarian) democracy,nottheelitismthatJianghasdescribed.ThebookconcludeswithJiang's elaborationonhispositionandrebuttalstomanyofthecritics'arguments. ReadersofJiang'sworkcannothelpbeingstruckbyhisauthorialvoice,nicely conveyed http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Philosophy East and West University of Hawai'I Press

A Confucian Constitutional Order: How China’s Ancient Past Can Shape Its Political Future by Jiang Qing, translated by Edmund Ryden, edited by Daniel A. Bell and Ruiping Fan (review)

Philosophy East and West, Volume 64 (2) – Apr 14, 2014

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Abstract

BOOK REVIEWS A Confucian Constitutional Order: How China's Ancient Past Can Shape Its Political Future.ByJiangQing.TranslatedbyEdmundRyden.EditedbyDanielA.Belland RuipingFan.Princeton,NJ:PrincetonUniversityPress,2013.Pp.vii+256.Hardcover$39.50,isbn978-0-691-15460-2. ReviewedbyStephen C. Angle WesleyanUniversity sangle@wesleyan.edu How important is Jiang Qing, whose extraordinary proposals for political change makeupthecoreofthenewbookA Confucian Constitutional Order: How China's Ancient Past Can Shape Its Political Future?InhisIntroductiontothevolume,coeditor Daniel Bell maintains that Jiang's views are "intensely controversial" and thatconversationsaboutpoliticalreforminChinararelyfailtoturntoJiang'sproposals.Atleastinmyexperience,thisissomethingofanexaggeration.Chinesepoliticalthinkingtodayishighlypluralistic,andformanyparticipantsJiangissimplya curiosity findeedtheyareawareofhim.Still,forthreereasonsJiangisverymuch --i worthourattention.First,thereisavibrantandgrowingcommunityofacademics, activists,andintellectualsinChinawhoengageConfucianismasalive,contemporarysourceofmeaning,andJiangisclearlyoneoftheleadersofthisgroup.Second, explicitlyConfucianpracticesarebeingrevivedorre-inventedinmanyareasofChinesesociety,andagoodnumberofthosewhoaredrawntotheseactivitiesareinspired by Jiang (for example, by his handbook on reciting the Classics) or even supporters of Jiang (witness the fact that Jiang was able to establish hisYangming JingsheAcademywithprivatecapital).Finally,somethinkerswhoarequitesympathetictoConfucianism revenidentifyasConfucians indJiang'sideasverytrou--o --f bling.WethushaveamplereasontogiveJiangseriousattention,andthiswell-designed volume makes it possible to gain access to and engage with Jiang's arguments in English. Thebookiscomprisedoffourmajorparts:Bell'ssubstantialIntroduction;three essaysbyJiang;fourshortercriticalessaysbyJosephChan,BaiTongdong,Chenyang Li,andWangShaoguang;andextensiveresponsesbyJiang.Bell'sintroductoryessay provides a helpful biography of Jiang that details his changing relationships with bothMarxismandthe"NewConfucianism"ofTangJunyiandMouZongsan.Inthe finalsectionoftheIntroduction,BellalsoreflectsonpossibleareasinwhichJiang andhiscriticsmightfindmorecommongroundthanJianghassofarbeenwilling to grant; as Bell notes, in the present volume Jiang refuses to make even a single concession. Jiang'sthreeessayseachconcentrateonakeyaspectofhispoliticalblueprintfor afutureConfucianChina.Chapter1explicateshisideaofthreefoldlegitimacy(sacred,historical,andpopular)andthetricamerallegislaturethatheaccordinglyproposes.Chapter2introducesaninstitutionhecallstheAcademy(TaiXue),apowerful supervisorybodymadeupofConfucianscholarswiththe"authoritytoappraiseand PhilosophyEast&WestVolume64,Number2April2014502­506 ©2014byUniversityofHawai`iPress adjudicatetherightnessofany[state]policy"(p.57).Inchapter3,Jiangexplainshis conceptionofthestateasanenduringspiritualandorganicentitythatisbestheaded notbyanelectedofficialbutbyahereditaryalbeitlargelysymbolicmonarch,apositionbestfilledincontemporaryChina,heargues,bytheheirofConfucius.Thecriticalessaysinthebook'sthirdsectioncoverarangeoftopics.ChanarguesthatJiang ismistakentoseekanimpositionofConfucianismasacomprehensivedoctrine(in Chan'stermsthisisaformof"extremeperfectionism"),thoughChanseesroomfor Confucianvaluestobeadvancedinmorepiecemealfashion.Baisaysthatadopting the religious and metaphysical approach to Confucianism that Jiang derives from HandynastyConfucianismisamistake,andarguesthataConfucianismasuniversally accessible political philosophy, based in pre-Qin texts like the Analects and Mencius, is more suited to the contemporary pluralistic world. Li also challenges J iang'sunderstandingof"heaven(tian),"arguingforamoreimmanentversionofthat ideaandthusformorecompatibilitywithdemocraticpolitics.Finally,Wangdisputes Jiang'sassertionthatthepresent-dayChineseregimelackslegitimacyandarguesthat whatChina(and,forthatmatter,theWest)needsismoregenuine(andegalitarian) democracy,nottheelitismthatJianghasdescribed.ThebookconcludeswithJiang's elaborationonhispositionandrebuttalstomanyofthecritics'arguments. ReadersofJiang'sworkcannothelpbeingstruckbyhisauthorialvoice,nicely conveyed

Journal

Philosophy East and WestUniversity of Hawai'I Press

Published: Apr 14, 2014

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