Abstract: This essay discusses the New Confucian philosopher Mou Zongsan (1909–1995), who in a number of highly influential writings in the 1970s attempted a kind of Confucian Aufhebung of Immanuel Kant's critical philosophy. Section 1 analyzes Mou's hybrid terminology and demonstrates how his use of Kantian concepts such as intellectual intuition (zhi de zhijue) and autonomy (zi lu) significantly altered the meaning of these terms without making the differences explicit. By relating this particular brand of Kantian Confucianism to the Chinese discourse on modernization—in which New Confucians took a stand against May Fourth iconoclasm—section 2 brings to light the inner strategic logic of Mou Zongsan's approach, namely a two-step argument for both the possibility and the necessity of Confucian Modernity. The concluding third section traces Mou's strategic appropriation of Kantian philosophy to his brief but momentous encounter with Hegel's metaphysics of history in the 1950s. Although Mou Zongsan himself never fully acknowledged his indebtedness to Hegel, the essay demonstrates that it was Hegel who first provided Mou with an understanding of how to enlist Kant's services in his quest for Confucian Modernity.
Philosophy East and West – University of Hawai'I Press
Published: Apr 27, 2011