Confucian Universalism and the Chinese Diaspora Experience
This paper argues that major Confucian thinkers such as Confucius, Mencius, and Xunzi all believed in the universality of human nature and therefore were all committed to universal moral values. In this essay, ”Confucian Universalism” refers to the Confucian belief in a common human nature and universal moral values. Such Confucian universalism is supported to a great degree by experiences of the Chinese diaspora. This paper also argues that in the contemporary world, the universal values of Confucianism and liberalism can work together and complement each other. They are two parts of the totality of universal values: on the one hand, Confucian virtues and moral principles can be practiced better in a democratic society than in a non-democratic society, and the fuller realization of Confucian universal values presupposes the prevalence of core liberal values such as human rights, democracy, liberty, and equality; on the other hand, Confucian universal values can help overcome excessive individualism in a democratic society and therefore play a positive role in building more balanced and harmonious families and communities there. Although this paper considers both of these aspects, its discussion focuses on why the Confucian tradition must incorporate liberal universal values and why the Confucian ideal cannot be realized in a non-democratic society.