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Dialogue and Universalism

Volume 31, Issue 3, 2021

Do We Need a New Enlightenment for the Twenty-First Century? Part II

Xing Guozhong, Shang Chen
Pages 75-92

Light through Time and Space
The Influence of Confucian Humanism on the European Enlightenment

Chinese Confucianism, which emerged during the Axial Age, has had a profound influence on many intellectual and cultural movements in history, including the European Enlightenment. This article analyzes the influence of Confucianism on the European Enlightenment from four perspectives: human rights, a benevolent government, religion and nature. The humanist spirit propagated by Confucianism was similar to the views expressed by Enlightenment thinkers on reason and human rights and provided a powerful ideological weapon for Enlightenment thinkers to criticize religious theocracy and break through the darkness of the Middle Ages. During this process of learning and absorbing the humanist spirit of Confucianism, French Enlightenment thinkers developed the rational and critical spirit of the Enlightenment and paved the way for intellectual liberation. Today, the world is facing the new challenges of global climate change, artificial intelligence and genetic technology. In the context of these global problems, China and the West can learn from each other and join efforts to gather new ideological resources to carry out a new ideological enlightenment movement on a global scale and achieve sustainable development for all humanity.