Chen Weigang: Confucian Humanism and Theodicy

Confucian Humanism and Theodicy

Weigang Chen, Philosophy and Religious Studies Program, Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, The University of Macau, Av. Padre Tomás Pereira Taipa, Macau. E-mail:


This article explores the puzzle of Confucian “divine humanism” in light of the Weberian scheme of religious rationalization. Relating the Confucian humanistic orientation to current discussions of the phenomenon of “amoral familism,” I argue that the Confucian puzzle calls into question the cornerstone of Max Weber’s comparative religion, namely his influential contrast between religious legitimation and theodicy. In particular, the puzzle suggests that in pre-Confucian China, there was no legitimate cosmic-social world order to which Confucianism managed to adjust, let alone to affirm. As a matter of fact, it was the Confucian solution to the problem of theodicy that laid the foundation for the legitimacy of the ethical polity. Hence, inverting what Weber and neo-Weberian theorists have asserted about the religious breakthroughs in the Axial Age, theodicy constituted the religious prerequisite for political legitimation.

80:4 Journal of the American Academy of Religion 932-970 (2012).

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陈维纲:Confucian Marxism: A Reflection on Religion and Global Justice

Confucian Marxism: A Reflection on Religion and Global JusticeConfucian Marxism: A Reflection on Religion and Global Justice. Brill 2013. ISBN: 9789004228986.

Buttressed by an autocratic system, China’s colossal economic growth over the past decades seems to have had the paradoxical effect of undermining the foundation of Western domination but at the same time invigorating Eurocentricism. In particular, it highlights the current relevance of the central conviction of Weber’s Orient: the absence of civic roots in non-Western societies will create a kind of “uncivic” capitalist system in which one has no choice but to seek to compensate for instabilities through authoritarian institutions. Does this mean that the West may alone afford to harmonize political stability with the universalistic ideal of justice as the basic structure of society? If not, how then is it possible to develop a notion of the primacy of social justice that transcends the limits of liberal democracy? This book aims at addressing these timely questions by drawing on “Confucian Marxism”—a distinctive perspective on civil society.