Review of Xinzhong Yao's Book Introduction to Confucianism Essay

1823 Words Jun 25th, 2010 8 Pages
In Introduction to Confucianism, Xinzhong Yao strives to convey a balanced understanding of the Chinese / East Asian tradition of Confucius as it has evolved over the last 2500 years from ancient times to contemporary relevance, from the classics into practice and all within a single book. Yao aims to distinguish his presentation of the subject matter from previous introductions that have taken a more historical approach. He writes for a western audience and for students who are assumed new to Confucianism while also appearing to address his peers and anticipated critics. He draws from his experience of teaching Confucianism in a university setting and includes excerpts of academic articles that he has previously published. His …show more content…
This unfortunately overshadowed the positive characteristics of Confucian harmony. It is interesting that a discussion about harmony left me feeling more disharmonious. According to Confucian belief on the other hand, the responsibility of achieving harmony rests with me.

With all of Yao's reminders about how significant and meaningful Confucianism has been as a religion, I was looking forward to the fourth chapter about the ritual and practice of Confucianism. To my surprise, Yao repeats many of the same sentiments about its religious elements and significance. I read carefully to find something that would add to my understanding of the depth and meaning of ritual and its practices. Yao misses this opportunity by talking about ritual or around practices, but never draws me in as if from the inside.

Close to the beginning of the last chapter, I was happy to see Yao's comprehensive and balanced articulation of how Confucianism has interacted with other traditions. However, after having read numerous slanted statements throughout the book about Buddhism contaminating or Daoism failing and then about the principal of righteousness or about the Confucian Ultimate, this much needed explanation came entirely too late. I would have liked to read Yao's fair-minded perspective regarding the relationship between these three religions right from the start to avoid any misunderstandings.

The last

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