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Proceedings of the XXII World Congress of Philosophy

Volume 9, 2008

Confucian Philosophy

Cheol-Seung Lee
Pages 233-266

유가철학에 나타난 충서(忠恕)관의 논리 구조와 현실적 의미

Today, the trend of "globalization" with the background of neo-liberalism, led by some economically developed countries around the U. S. is on the increase. However, while the ideology of the neo-liberalism plays a positive role in securing the individual rights independent from a group, it also causes diverse social conflicts derived from the differences among groups and regions as well as individuals, according to its logic of competition, which evokes infinite egoism. For this reason, a group of scholars have been exerting themselves to find out the wise solution for the social problems. And the "Zhongsu (忠恕)" Thought, which roughly means the consideration for "Zhong (忠)" and "Shu (恕)", has become a significant ideological resource to solve such problems. Traditionally, in Confucian world, "Zhong" is understood as the revelation of the pure good morality as an innate nature of the self, and "Shu" the expansion of the "Zhong" to others. Such point of view of traditional Confucian world regards the two areas not as separate spheres but as closely related ones. That is to say, it is maintained that the sphere of "Zhong", which covers the moral order of an individual and that of "Shu," which covers that of the society are organically related to establish a community based on morality resulted from the ideal relationship between an individual and a society. However, it is somewhat difficult to apply the idea of moral society of traditional Confucian world based on the relationship between "Zhong" and "Shu" to the present society, which emphasizes pluralism in the origin and the contents of its morality. For the nature of morality contained in the "Zhongshu" Thought of traditional Confucian world is based on the "Good Human Nature Principle," which covers the absolutist ethics emphasizing the immediate identification of existence and value, while many people of today regard such point of view as a result of the false ideological system without any realistic foundation. Those who criticize the absolutist ethics maintain that morality is not a transcendental gift but an empirical product and the value and principle of life shaped by the heros of a historical period. For the reason they regard morality as a relative value restricted by time and space, not as an invariable transcendental value. They also maintain the point of view of limited or conditional universality that the universality of morality is a common conscious shaped by an organic relationship between specialities, which can be continued for a specific period of time and then would change or disappear. As mentioned above, the "Zhongshu" thought of traditional Confucian world has some difficulty in being adopted into the plural society of today, which means that it should be transformed into a new shape to be significantly utilized in today's society.