Confucian insights for Gianni Vattimo's secularized religiousness

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2012-12
Authors
Power, Richard Duane
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[Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [December 2012]
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Abstract
As an exercise in comparative philosophy, this study seeks to bring early Confucian philosophy into constructive dialogue with the postmodern religious thought of Italian philosopher, Gianni Vattimo. I interpret classical Confucianism as an immanental worldview that does not appeal to categories of strict transcendence for its meaning, values and religiousness. Confucianism affirms the spirituality of becoming more fully human within the world. Vattimo is a hermeneutical philosopher in the lineage of Martin Heidegger and Hans-Georg Gadamer. He offers a historicist revision of Christianity that utilizes the metaphor of kenosis to signify the emptying of God's transcendence onto the plain of human relationships. Vattimo believes secularization is the inevitable outworking of the Christian message in society. Vattimo's "weak thought" offers a post-metaphysical, nihilistic account of hermeneutics, religious experience and ethical conduct. He seeks a Gadamerian culture of dialogue in which truth is consensus among language users. Religious experience, for Vattimo, is a feeling of dependence upon the chain of messages received within the biblical tradition. In ethics, Christian charity, as the principle that best serves the reduction of violence, is the limit of secularization. Confucianism offers constructive insights for Vattimo's secularized religiousness. I develop a Confucian "sagely hermeneutics" that focuses on the key role of wise listeners and interpreters in the community. Religiousness is considered under two rubrics: first, the sense of unity with and participation in cosmic order and, second, human interrelatedness and ethical responsibility. I suggest that an ecological sensibility based on a Confucian/Daoist vision of human-cosmic unity enables one to see the world as enchanted or sacred. For human relationships, I recommend Confucian role ethics that begins in the family with xiao (孝), "family reverence." In place of charity, I propose shu (恕) "putting oneself in another's place."
Description
Ph.D. University of Hawaii at Manoa 2012.
Includes bibliographical references.
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Gianni Vattimo, Confucianism, secularism, secularized religiousness
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Theses for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (University of Hawaii at Manoa). Philosophy.
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