S-Space College of Social Sciences (사회과학대학) Institute for Social Development and Policy Research (사회발전연구소) Development and Society Development and Society Vol.29 No.1/2 (2000)
How the East Was Won: Orientalism and the New Confucian Discourse in East Asia
- Hahm, Chaibong
- Issue Date
- Institute for Social Development and Policy Research, Center for Social Sciences, Seoul National University
- Development and Society, Vol.29 No.1, pp. 97-109
- Prompted and aided by the rapid economic growth of the region during the past 30 years, a new Confucian discourse is being articulated with increasing frequency and sophistication. Such terms as “Confucian Capitalism” and “Confucian Democracy” have been coined to explain in ‘indigenous’ terms the rapid economic and political transformation of the countries of the region in recent years. However, this new Confucian discourse has its share of critics, both local and foreign, left and right. Those who advocate a reinterpretation and reaffirmation of Confucian values for the modern world are mainly confronted with three types of criticism; political, methodological, and epistemological. This paper mostly address the third type of criticism which holds that by emphasizing the Confucianism v. West dichotomy one is falling prey to reverse orientalism. This paper responds to this criticism by, first, by providing a brief account of the evolution of the intellectual discourse in East Asia since the 19th century. Then, it will analyze the epistemology of “Orientalism” to see what implications it has for new Confucianism. The conclusion is that the new Confucian discourse is a natural and accurate reflection of the political and economic transformation that the region has experienced in recent decades. It also concludes that the implications, political or otherwise, of orientalism for the new Confucian discourse are none.
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