“Harmony in Diversity” (hé ér bù tóng) is a rather famous Confucian motto. It is widely regarded by many Chinese as a valuable ideal or guiding principle to be upheld in order to preserve peaceful relations among the religions as well as among nations. This paper aims to go beyond this rather preliminary impression by exploring further the possible contributions of the Confucian approach to dialogue in a world of conflict and violence. Through a brief comparison with some other views in Chinese culture, this paper argues that Confucianism is relatively more capable than other Chinese traditions to address a world of conflict and violence. It further proposes that a Confucian approach to cross-cultural dialogue can be derived from the Confucian virtues of benevolence (rén 仁) and reciprocity (shù 恕), the concept of zhongyong (中庸) rationality, and ethical guidelines concerning retribution and reconciliation. This approach will benefit not only the avoidance of conflict and violence, but also the inter-group reconciliations which are particularly needed in a post-conflict context. Although there are also certain limitations to the Confucian approach to inter-religious relations, these limitations can be overcome partially through dialogue with other cultural or religious traditions.
Central Asia / East Asia and Asia Pacific / Interreligious Relations
Last updated on 23/05/2019