The virtue of incivility: Confucian communitarianism beyond docility

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This article argues that in order to make Confucian communitarianism a viable political vision, namely, Civil Confucianism, its emphasis on civility must be balanced with what I call 'Confucian incivility', a set of Confucian social practices that temporarily upset the existing social relations and yet that, ironically, help those relations become more enduring and viable. The central argument is that 'Confucian civility' encompasses both social-harmonizing civilities that buttress the moral foundation of the Confucian social order and some incivilities that upset that foundation, albeit temporarily, in order to revise and thereby revitalize it. The article presents Confucian civility as both deferentially remonstrative and respectfully corrective (in the familial relations) and uncompromising and even intractable (in the political relations). It concludes by examining the implications of the virtue of Confucian incivility for constructing a less conservative and more socio-politically vibrant version of Confucian communitarianism than the prevailing suggestions of it.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-48
Number of pages24
JournalPhilosophy and Social Criticism
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2011 Jan

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Philosophy
  • Sociology and Political Science


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