The Sage Returns

Confucian Revival in Contemporary China

Edited by Kenneth J. Hammond & Jeffrey L. Richey

Subjects: Religion, Popular Culture, Philosophy, History, Confucianism
Series: SUNY series in Chinese Philosophy and Culture
Paperback : 9781438454924, 226 pages, July 2015
Hardcover : 9781438454917, 226 pages, February 2015

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Table of contents

List of Illustrations
Daniel A. Bell
Introduction: The Death and Resurrection of Confucianism
Kenneth J. Hammond and Jeffrey L. Richey
Part One. Confucianism and Intellectual Life
1. The Tenacious Persistence of Confucianism in Imperial Japan and Modern China
Robert W. Foster
2. Scientism and Modern Confucianism
Jennifer Oldstone-Moore

Part Two. Confucianism and the State

3. Selling Confucius: The Negotiated Return of Tradition in Post-Socialist China
Anthony DeBlasi
4. The Return of the Repressed: The New Left and “Left” Confucianism in Contemporary China
Kenneth J. Hammond

5. Chat Room Confucianism: Online Discourse and Popular Morality in China
Jeffrey L. Richey
Part Three. Confucianism and Popular Culture
6. Like the Air We Breathe: Confucianism and Chinese Youth
Robert L. Moore
7. The Sage’s New Clothes: Popular Images of Confucius in Contemporary China
Julia K. Murray

An interdisciplinary exploration of the contemporary Confucian revival.


Until its rejection by reformers and revolutionaries in the twentieth century, Confucianism had been central to Chinese culture, identity, and thought for centuries. Confucianism was rejected by both Nationalists under Chiang Kai-shek and Mao Zedong's Communist Party, which characterized it as an ideology of reaction and repression. Yet the sage has returned: today, Chinese people from all walks of life and every level of authority are embracing Confucianism. As China turned away from the excesses of the Cultural Revolution and experienced the adoption and challenges of market practices, alternatives were sought to the prevailing socialist morality. Beginning in the 1980s and continuing through the years, ideas, images, behaviors, and attitudes associated with Confucianism have come back into public and private life. In this volume, scholars from a wide range of disciplines explore the contemporary Confucian revival in China, looking at Confucianism and the state, intellectual life, and popular culture. Contributors note how the revival of Confucianism plays out in a variety of ways, from China's relationship with the rest of the world, to views of capitalism and science, to blockbuster movies and teenage fashion.

Kenneth J. Hammond is Professor of History at New Mexico State University. He is the author of Pepper Mountain: The Life, Death, and Posthumous Career of Yang Jisheng, the editor of The Human Tradition in Premodern China, and the coeditor (with Kristin Stapleton) of The Human Tradition in Modern China. Jeffrey L. Richey is Associate Professor of Religion and Asian Studies at Berea College. He is the author of Confucius in East Asia: Confucianism's History in China, Korea, Japan, and Viet Nam and the editor of Teaching Confucianism.


"The papers assembled for this volume … offer readers a rich thematic breadth and impeccable scholarship that is recommended to both students and specialists." — Religious Studies Review

"…this is a timely book … Highly recommended." — CHOICE