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Engaging NatureEnvironmentalism and the Political Theory Canon$
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Peter F. Cannavò and Joseph H. Lane Jr.

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780262028059

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262028059.001.0001

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Confucius: How Non-Western Political Theory Contributes to Understanding the Environmental Crisis

Confucius: How Non-Western Political Theory Contributes to Understanding the Environmental Crisis

Chapter:
(p.271) 15 Confucius: How Non-Western Political Theory Contributes to Understanding the Environmental Crisis
Source:
Engaging Nature
Author(s):

Joel Jay Kassiola

Publisher:
The MIT Press
DOI:10.7551/mitpress/9780262028059.003.0016

Focusing on the writings of Confucius and the Confucian tradition, Joel Jay Kassiola argues that looking beyond the Western political thought makes obvious sense in an era of globalization and planetary environmental crisis; moreover, such a move enables us to escape the narrow perspectives that have contributed to our ecological predicament. Confucius and Confucianism provide a particularly valuable understanding of our times: Confucius wrote in response to a society that, like our own, was confused and bewildered by a transformative moment in history and widespread sense of perceived crisis; Confucius valued past teachings and thus offered an intergenerational perspective; and the later Confucian tradition advanced a cosmology attuned to an ecological perspective. While Western religious cosmology envisions a discrete moment of creation by a divine creator, a view that fosters a dualism of humanity and nature, Neo-Confucian thought sees nature as always existing in an endless, ongoing process of creation. Furthermore, the Confucian tradition is non-anthropocentric, as it posits a fundamental continuity and unity among humanity, Heaven, and Earth, a view that, in turn, entails respect and care for nonhuman nature.

Keywords:   Confucius, The Analects (Confucius), Neo-Confucianism, environmental political theory, comparative political theory, Chinese political thought, Tu Wei-ming, Chang Tsai, ch’i

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