Author: LAI Pan-chiu, Professor, Department of Cultural and Religious Studies, The Chinese University of Hong Kong
Contemporary Confucianism engages in dialogue both with Christianity, and with contemporary sciences and western philosophy. This essay explores how Confucian theories of human personhood and rationality may contribute to the dialogue between Confucianism and Christianity. Through analyzing contemporary explorations of the Confucian theories of the human person and of rationality, which are derived from its engagement with contemporary scientific understanding of the human person and Western theories of rationality, this article argues that the relational understanding of human personhood advanced by some contemporary scholars of Confucianism is comparable to the relational anthropology advocated by contemporary Christian theology, which is informed by its dialogue with contemporary scientific understandings of the human person and the relational understanding of the divine personhood emphasized in contemporary Trinitarian theology. This article finds that through their respective dialogues with contemporary academic theories, the dialogue between Christianity and Confucianism can become more fruitful by overcoming the impasse imposed by the traditional approach of focusing on concepts in their classical texts. Based on the similarities in their relational understandings of the human person, this article concludes that Christianity and Confucianism can have fruitful dialogue on issues concerning the divine-human relationship. Furthermore, the Confucian understanding of the human person assumes an understanding of rationality in dialogue or dialogic rationality which may also contribute to the understanding of the foundation and goal of inter-cultural dialogue, which may enrich the discussion concerning Christian-Confucian dialogue.
Confucianism, Christianity, Person, Relation, Rationality
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