Show Less
Restricted access

Bishop Joseph Butler and Wang Yangming

A Comparative Study of Their Moral Vision and View of Conscience

Peter T.C. Chang

This book is a comparative study of the Anglican Bishop Joseph Butler’s and Neo-Confucianist Wang Yangming’s ethical enterprise. It first analyses, within their respective historical context, the two thinkers’ overarching worldviews and their seminal conception of conscience / liang-chih as a person's supreme moral guide. The English bishop and the Chinese philosopher-military general are then brought into dialogue by way of a comparing and contrasting of their distinct religious-philosophical traditions. In addition, Butler and Wang will be placed in a hypothetical encounter to explore how they, and by proxy Christianity and Confucianism, would critically appraise each other’s spiritual and sociopolitical endeavor. The end purpose of this study is to enhance our perception of the intriguing similarities and complex differences that exist between these two Axial Age civilizations. The author argues that dissonances notwithstanding, Butler and Wang share core values, consonances that could and should set the tone for an amiable Christian-Confucian co-existence.
Show Summary Details
Restricted access

Chapter 4: Comparing Butler’s Christianity and Wang’s Confucianism


Chapter 4 Comparing Butler’s Christianity and Wang’s Confucianism

Human civilizations through the ages have encountered each other with varied outcomes. One particular interaction that has captured much interest is the general meeting of East and West, which includes the more specific coming together of Confucianism and Christianity. By the time of the Ming dynasty (1368–1644 CE), the Chinese literati had been introduced to the Christian worldview through the Nestorians (during the Tang Dynasty, 618–907 CE) and Marco Polo’s adventure to the East (during the Yuan era, 1279–1368 CE). During Wang Yang-ming’s era, the Christian venture to China continued with the Jesuit missions led by Francis Xavier (1506–1552 CE) and later Matteo Ricci (1552–1610 CE). In Joseph Butler’s 18th century, European travelers returning from the Far East were bearing news of civilizations foreign and ancient. The Deist Lord Herbert Cherbury (1584–1648 CE), England’s ambassador in Paris, who had extensive contact with the continental maritime merchant class, showed particular interest in the Eastern traditions and became a pioneering and influential messenger of the East. Deism became the English moral tradition that most embodied the influence of the East.44 Subsequent centuries witnessed an increased Western curiosity in Eastern religious and philosophical traditions. Since the beginning of these historic encounters in centuries past, significant efforts have been invested on both sides, East and West, to establish a better and deeper mutual understanding.

This chapter will advance a comparison of Christianity and Confucianism and, more...

You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.

This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.

Do you have any questions? Contact us.

Or login to access all content.