This Manifesto discusses the Confucian tradition and ways of preserving its merits and
restoring its relevance. The word ‘Confucianism’ is a European coinage, which associates the
tradition with the person of Confucius and his teachings, and labels the tradition as an “ism”.
However, our understanding of this rich tradition is much better conveyed by the equivalent
Chinese word rujia 儒家, which means ‘The School of the Learned”. The Confucian tradition,
as it is understood and promoted in this manifesto, is not a fixed system of thought that can be
defined in terms of a certain number of dogmas, but rather an ongoing discussion of the human
predicament that started about three thousand years ago, even before Confucius (孔子, d. 479
BCE). In this discussion, we may identify a number of themes and questions as key elements:
among them the nature of ‘Man’ (ren 人) and ‘Heaven’ (tian 天), the meaning of good and evil,
the cultivation of humanity, the question of how to bring about a harmonious society and world
order, as well as various relationships such as the relationship between knowledge and action
and that between morality and scholarly inquiry.
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