PoliSci 113A


The four “R”’s of neo-Confucian Renovation

Neo-Confucianism was concerned with producing knowledge that would be beneficial to the society. It teaches local society on the importance of self-cultivation to create order in the community. Neo-Confucianism mandate was to imply self-cultivation for effective proper leadership. The neo-Confucian renovation was pioneered by philosophers such as Zhu Xi and Wang Yang and the reason for being termed as a neo-Confucian renovation was simply as a result of its policies of renovating the earlier Confucian without altering much of its core policies and incorporating outside ideas. They adopted the four R’s neo-Confucian namely Rededication to service, Reconstitution of power, Rationalization of philosophy and Re-grounding of reality (Magagna 10/11). These R’s involve fundamental reforms in the neo-Confucian ideas. The rededication to service was involved in creation of service elite that was crucial in developing local charities, managing local conflict plus investing in local infrastructure. These services were fundamental in embracing the Neo-Confucian renovation ideas of doing the things that were done by the government such as drought prevention, and local school building. The service elite was not tied to bureaucracy rather it was specifically for local leadership i.e. local government. The second R was Reconstitution of power which was involved with decentralization of power away from the governmental bureaucracy. Reconstitution of power mandated the society to voluntarily do its own things that would be beneficial. Reconstitution of power wanted to enlighten the local society to do its own things and form its powers rather than being controlled by a bureaucratic government. It involved building the local service elite to develop a local system that would make policies and powers although it did not mean developing a democracy.  Reconstruction of power was mainly used to solve the bureaucratic challenges of inefficiency. It decentralized the functions of the local institutions and local social groups in order to obtain an enlightened local society. This society could now be able to organize its governance with ease hence it rewarded its individuals with status power instead of material wealth. The third R was rationalization of philosophy involves the process of simplification which involves writing and speaking in a coherent direct manner. Simplicity also involved the understanding of the ordinary individuals who can put into practice the traditional practices (Magagna 10/13). This neo-Confucian wanted a simple language to understand in order to put into action the ideas of neo-Confucianism. Another practice of rationalization is standardization which involves the creation of core values of the tradition and a provision of alternative elite. The fourth R was Re-grounding of reality and is a neo-Confucian response that dealt with responding to Buddhism and its creation of alternatives. This response additionally involved salvation to the cry of religion and the identity of a principle (Magagna 10/11).

Six core Confucian

The core Confucian comprise of moral cultivation, family orientation, avoidance of conflict and need for harmony, the importance of interpersonal relationships, respect for hierarchy plus age and concept of face (Fang 109).  In moral cultivation, Confucianism can be understood as a type of moral ethics that is concerned with how individuals learn to become human via lifelong learning and moral cultivation (Fang 109). Confucians are concerned with moral thinking which is closely associated with the local society rather than universal culture. Confucianism advocates for leadership that are based on virtues rather than governance through the law.  Another core Confucian is the importance of interpersonal relationships in which it emphasizes on self-cultivation in individuals (Fang 115). This rarely led to the isolation of individuals’ to a separate individuality but could be seen as being in a relationship. The third core Confucian is avoidance of conflict as well as the need for harmony and in this, the Confucians reveal the aspirations towards a society that is free from conflicts and formation of social relations in groups. Confucians emphasize the importance of harmony in society through moral conduct in the entire relationships (Fang 139). Confucianism further emphasizes the need to achieve social harmony through collectivity adaptability, emotion control avoiding confusion and conflicts. In the concept of face, the Confucians refer to the face as an individual reputation and credit. Face is tied to the values of social harmony and shame hence an individual is required to maintain face. Confucians are mandated to assume a good image in terms of the apt social attributes. Face can be used as self-regulating moral mechanism since losing an individual’s face results in shame (Fang 143). Face is not only used as a personal affair but it was used to depict moral connotations of the whole social connection, community, and the family. Family orientation is of equal importance in Confucianism. It views the family as the core unit that formed a basis of proper governance hence Confucians were required to in stable family relationships. The last core Confucian is respect for age and hierarchy. Confucians state that respect for age forms a crucial determinant of family relationships (Fang 133). It also states that individuals should respect their leaders since they are the ones who make the laws for good governance.

What, why, and how of proper order

Proper order can be identified through several ways. One of the fundamentals of proper order can be human and humane in its practice (Magagna 10/20). Proper order should human in that it should be supporting human interests and it should similarly be humane to support human being as opposed to anything else. Humane in proper order states that there should be minimally coerciveness, and be founded on equal respect for humanity. Being humane also involves persuasive power which advocates for persuasive leadership.  Proper order should be beneficent hierarchy hence it should be beneficial to all individual classes of the society. Leaders should have the mandate to help the members of the society in a helpful manner. The community can, therefore, determine whether the leaders are helpful for their cause since there is a natural hierarchy that is naturally evolving in the society. Proper order is also concerned with virtuous leadership which can be balanced to equate the interests of the ruler and the ruled as well as long-term and short-term interests. Additionally, proper order is concerned with leadership that is not self-sacrificing. Virtuous leadership is founded on the correct choices and is open to any individual. Proper order was established to flourish the society in what is referred as target flourishing. Further, proper order should be built on proper nature and should have a religious impact on the society. Proper order should also moral flourishing in building social trust beyond the household founded on a rational expectation of good moral behaviors. Proper order emphasizes that individuals are morally motivated to live in a harmonious society. Why was proper order then in neo-Confucian? Proper order fragility could be used to refer to fate. This highlights that something could go wrong within a certain period. Proper order conflict is where individual use degenerative conflict compared to the healthy competition. The neo-Confucian conflict involves individuals to compete rationally rather than competition that will cause individuals to be unhappy. Additionally, the fragility of proper order could be related to politics which is divided into political, economic and cultural betrayal. Another question that arises with proper order is how to obtain it. Proper order can be achieved through coercive minimization hence leaders should be exemplary to the society. It can also be achieved through merit maximization as leaders will be required to show skills as well as excellence. Proper order can be obtained through bureaucratic and fiscal minimalisms which are sources of corruption. Moreover, it can be obtained aligning government incentives that they benefit the society (Magagna 10/18).

The puzzle of Confucianism

The Confucian puzzle aim is to give the reasons for the failure of political order governance that was used by the Confucians as a method and practice. The puzzle tries to explore what caused the alternatives to Confucianism flop. The alternatives to Confucian included Taoism and legalism. Taoism was a popular religion of self-cultivation that offers no protection to challenges of war and unity while legalism was concerned with a coercive bureaucratic rule and high taxation which also failed miserably. The puzzle of Confucianism states that rulers should minimize their powers and instead depend on voluntary compliance. The world rulers would embrace a government that was based on only minimal taxation, coercion as well as bureaucracy. Leaders were mandated to adopt a system that would be making them be viewed as of less power but that would be encouraging the society to express itself freely compared to the earlier Darwinism. This would create a government that was beneficial to both the rulers and the ruled. The solution requires the three adaptions which include developing political critics to the political elite which provided the society a basis for political criticism. Another solution to the puzzle was the Confucian renovation that developed as a response to new challenges that were occurring in the society. This response was to deal with the challenge of commercialization, strategic threats from the sea and Buddhism. The third solution was to respond to the west plus the Confucian globalization. Since Confucian was beginning to expand rapidly, it required a response which could lead to a solution to the puzzle. Hence, the puzzle was an opportunity by the Confucians to offer proper order as a consistent rule (Magagna 10/9).

Elite regulation

Elite regulation was concerned with moral and material management. In material management, it was concerned with service incentives such as rewards and punishments, civil service examinations and recognition for local volunteerism. In moral management, it was concerned ritualization and moralization and subsidized self-cultivation.  Elite regulation involves leadership that is characterized by lazy and corrupt kings who are dangerous to the Confucian form of governance. Elite regulation is also mandatory in the Confucian society since the human institutions are mandated to be governed by elites although their limitation is their dangerous behavior. The leaders in elite regulation are prone to moral hazards as well as opportunism. The elites were not afraid of the moral hazards that occurred as a result of the bad behaviors as they passed the consequences to the ruled. The subjects under elite regulation suffered much of the pain not because of the actions but as a result of the elites’ moral hazards. Elite regulation was characterized leaders making various forms of bad behaviors since they knew that they could never bear the pain of the consequences of their behaviors. Elite regulation was additionally characterized by opportunistic leaders who were capable of enacting the bad rules that they could utilize to exert their bad behaviors. Elites usually circumnavigated for any golden opportunities in order to cheat with the consequences being faced by their subjects. As opposed to a democracy, elites did not bother being elected hence full utilized any opportunity that they could to cheat on their subjects. Even when elite leaders passed bad policies that would only be beneficial to them, the negative consequences were only passed and felt by their subjects. When they discovered gaps in the existing laws, they made sure that they utilize that gap for their gain. Elite regulation was similarly characterized by leaders were weak in character thus were prone to moral hazards and opportunism and they did not strive to obtain a balance between the rulers and the ruled (Magagna 10/30). The elite regulation was in constant conflict between the interests of the society and the leaders.

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  1. Magagna. “E. Asia Thought/Comp Perspectv”. Video blog post. Poli 113A. UC Sandiego, 11 June. 2017. Web. 09 Nov. 2017 <https://podcast.ucsd.edu/podcasts/default.aspx?PodcastId=4472>
  2. Fang, Tony. Chinese business negotiating style. SAGE, 1999.
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