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Tuesday, May 9, 2000 - 19:30

Confucian Confusion

Dr. Diane Obenchain

Visiting Professor of Religion,

Peking University

New Zealand Embassy

Ritan Lu 1 Dong Er Jie

What we in the West call "Confucianism" is a way of life that receives the Chinese name of "ru" meaning soft, gentle, learned. Ru (Confucianism) refers to a cultivated moral way of life that takes as its foundation the care, love, and respect that are natural and proper to the family and encourages the deepening and broadening of these feelings beyond the family in the larger social and public world. Until the twentieth century, the Confucian moral way of life was the foundation of moral leadership in China. What are the roots of the Confucian moral life? What is the Chinese world-view in which this way of life makes its contribution? What are the central themes of this moral way of life? What were Confucius's didactic contributions to it? How have these themes and instructions been carried forward and developed over the past 2500 years? What contributions can this moral way of life offer China today?

These are the focal points of a brief presentation on the origins and development of Confucian thought in China which Dr. Diane B. Obenchain will present in an effort to clarify and diffuse some recent Confucian confusion. Dr. Diane Obenchain, a visiting professor of Religion at Peking University, where she has taught regularly since 1988, received her Ph.D. from Harvard University in the field of Comparative History of Religion (with a specialization in Chinese religious tradition). She has lectured widely in North America, China and Singapore on Confucian philosophy. She has also published several volumes and is preparing a collection of her papers on Confucian thought.