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Comparisons of Confucian Values in China and Japan

Comparisons of Confucian Values in China and Japan -...

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Kimberly Zhang “Comparisons of Confucian Values in China and Japan” Reading Critiques of Confucian Tradition 1. Bad reputation of Confucianism in 20 th century China a. China’s reformers battling with rigid and xenophobic Chinese worldview b. Chinese personality, as it existed until at least 1949, was thought to be embedded in family-centered loyalties, in backward-looking rote learning of outdated classics, and in hierarchical political traditions that drained the initiative from individuals c. Confucianism represented antithesis of modern, individualistic, scientifically oriented, democratically guided human behavior d. Accounts for all major political movements of the 20 th century, from the 1911 and 1949 revolutions to the May Fourth Movement and the Cultural Revolution and the reform program from 1978 for building “socialism with Chinese characteristics” 2. Marxist-Leninist-Stalinist tradition was most negative intellectual/political tradition that reasserted those negative interpretations of Chinese Confucianism a. Drew inspiration from Marx, including his discussion of stagnant Asiatic Mode of Production, and from negative treatment of “feudalism” by Lenin and Stalin b. Communists vigorously rejected Confucian traditions of their society i. Focused on evils lurking in the traditional forms of family, school, community, government ii. Cultural Revolution carried to extreme the repudiation of “old ideas, old culture, old customs, and old habits” 3. Two periods when Confucian values were rejected in Japan in 19 th and 20 th centuries
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a. 1870s, Westernizing reforms inundated Japan, prompting deprecatory assessment of past Confucian practices i. Westernization entered Japan with more sweeping assault on past than drawn-out struggle in China ii. Still, in 1880s and 1890s, Japanese leaders succeeded in fusing traditional outlooks, including Confucian values, with nationalism 1. Fusion increased censorship after early 1920s, thwarted any large-scale reassessment of Japanese traditions until after
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