Confucianism, A Habit of the Heart

Bellah, Civil Religion, and East Asia

Edited by Philip J. Ivanhoe & Sungmoon Kim

Subjects: Confucianism, Religion, Asian Studies, Asian Religion And Philosophy, Sociology Of Religion
Paperback : 9781438460123, 246 pages, January 2017
Hardcover : 9781438460130, 246 pages, March 2016

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Table of contents

Sungmoon Kim and Philip J. Ivanhoe
1. Confucianism as Civil Religion
Fenggang Yang
2. The Revival of Confucianism in the Sphere of Mores and the Reactivation of the Civil Religion Debate in China
Sébastien Billioud
3. Inside the Revival of Confucianism in Mainland China: The Vicissitudes of Confucian Classics in Contemporary China as an Example
Guoxiang Peng
4. The Politics of Confucianism in Contemporary China
Anna Sun
5. Obstacles to Globalization of Confucianism
Richard Madsen
6. Beyond a Disciplinary Society: Reimagining Confucian Democracy in South Korea
Sungmoon Kim
7. The Experience of Village Leaders during the Saemaul Movement in the 1970s: Focusing on the Lives of the Male Leaders
Do-Hyun Han
8. Contemporary Japanese Confucianism from a Genealogical Perspective
Takahiro Nakajima
9. The Bildungsroman of the Heart: Thick Naturalism in Robert Bellah’s Religion in Human Evolution
Yang Xiao
10. Can We Imagine a Global Civil Religion?
Robert N. Bellah

Employs Robert Bellah’s notion of civil religion to explore East Asia’s Confucian revival.


Can Confucianism be regarded as a civil religion for East Asia? This book explores this question, bringing the insights of Robert Bellah to a consideration of various expressions of the contemporary Confucian revival. Bellah identified American civil religion as a religious dimension of life that can be found throughout US culture, but one without any formal institutional structure. Rather, this "civil" form of religion provides the ethical principles that command reverence and by which a nation judges itself. Extending Bellah's work, contributors from both the social sciences and the humanities conceive of East Asia's Confucian revival as a "habit of the heart," an underlying belief system that guides a society, and examine how Confucianism might function as a civil religion in China, Korea, and Japan. They discuss what aspects of Confucian tradition and thought are being embraced; some of the social movements, political factors, and opportunities connected with the revival of the tradition; and why Confucianism has not traveled much beyond East Asia. The late Robert Bellah's reflection on the possibility for a global civil religion concludes the volume.

Philip J. Ivanhoe is Chair Professor of East Asian and Comparative Philosophy and Religion at City University of Hong Kong. His many books include Mortality in Traditional Chinese Thought (coedited with Amy Olberding); Taking Confucian Ethics Seriously: Contemporary Theories and Applications (coedited with Kam-por Yu and Julia Tao); Religious and Philosophical Aspects of the Laozi (coedited with Mark Csikszentmihalyi); and Essays on Skepticism, Relativism, and Ethics in the Zhuangzi (coedited with Paul Kjellberg), all published by SUNY Press. Sungmoon Kim is Professor of Political Theory at City University of Hong Kong. He is the author of Confucian Democracy in East Asia: Theory and Practice and the editor of Confucianism, Law, and Democracy in Contemporary Korea.


"…the volume is a praiseworthy project, readily understandable and informative; a valuable, up-to-date source concerning the religious facets of contemporary East Asian Confucianism. " — Religious Studies Review

"Confucianism, A Habit of the Heart is an excellent addition to the ever-growing literature on the role of religion in general and Confucianism in particular in contemporary East Asian societies. " — China Review International