Humane_Love_vs._Kinship_Love.pdf - Dao(2008 7:125u2013129...

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ORIGINAL PAPER On Humane Love and Kinship Love Bryan W. Van Norden Published online: 8 May 2008 # Springer Science + Business Media B.V. 2008 I am honored to be asked to comment on the fine essays by L IU Qingping and G UO Qiyong (Liu 2007 ; Guo 2007 ). They are obviously both deep thinkers with serious moral commitments. I find myself closer to agreement with Guo, and so I will have more to say about Liu s work. Regarding Guo s thoughtful and scholarly position, I will simply note that I personally view the relationship between Kongzi, Mengzi, and Z HU Xi as analogous to the relationship between Plato, Augustine, and Thomas Aquinas. Each figure influences or is influenced by the others, and each is worthy of serious study. However, they present positions that are distinct, and we should be cautious that we are not projecting the worldview of one onto another (see Van Norden 2007 : 23 29 and 323 325; Ivanhoe 2000 .). Turning to Liu, he claims that Confucianism regards kinship love for one s relatives as more foundational than humane love for other people in general. Hence, kinship love categorically overrides humane love when the two conflict. In contrast, Liu advocates a Post-Confucian position, in which humane love is foundational, and categorically overrides kinship love when the two conflict. I will argue, first, that Liu s own position has extremely counterintuitive consequences, and, second, that Confucians can reject a categorical emphasis of kinship love over humane love. Consider two concrete examples. (1) President John F. Kennedy appointed his brother, Robert Kennedy, attorney general. (2) President Bill Clinton appointed his wife, Hillary Clinton, to chair the Task Force on National Health Care Reform. Several things are striking about each case. First, it seems that some sort of favoritism is involved. Robert Kennedy and Hillary Clinton were both attorneys with professional experience that made them at least minimally qualified for these positions. However, there is no particular reason to believe that either would have stood out as especially strong candidates for their respective posts if some other Democratic candidate had won the White House. Second, Confucianism cannot be blamed for what these US Presidents did. Guanxi is a Chinese term, but it refers to something that is operative in Western politics, business, and Dao (2008) 7:125 129 DOI 10.1007/s11712-008-9057-x Bryan W. Van Norden ( * ) Department of Philosophy, Vassar College, 310, 124 Raymond Avenue, Poughkeepsie, NY 12604-0310, USA e-mail: [email protected]
(dare I say it) academia as well. Third, and most importantly, I think most of us have the intuition that there is nothing corrupt or immoral about what Presidents Kennedy or Clinton did in these cases. However, Liu would have to say that these actions intrinsically harmed the public welfare and rightful interests of the masses (Liu 2007 : 10).

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