Thursday, July 26, 2012

Confucius Say

“Confucius say” was a favorite way that Charlie Chan would introduce his aphoristic solutions to crime. In an op-ed piece in The Times (“A Confucian Constitution For China,” NYT, 7/10/12), Jiang Qing who is identified as founder of the Yan-ming Confucian Academy and Daniel A. Bell who is editing his forthcoming book, A Confucian Constitutional Order: How China’s Ancient Past Can Shape Its Political Future offer the Charlie Chan approach to politics. Qing and Bell essentially suggest that the pressure on China to democratize is misguided. They argue that “the will of the majority may not be moral” and that “when there is a clash between the short-term interests of the populace and the long-term interests of mankind, as is the case with global warming, the people’s short-term interests become the political priority.” Surely these points about democracy are not limited to China and their  argument is in line with thinkers like the British philosopher Derek Parfit who tries to bridge the gap between Hume and Kant in his book On W hat Matters. Qing and Bell propose "a tricameral legislature" composed of a House of Exemplary Persons, a House of the Nation and a House of the People. The House of the Nation and the House of the People, sound a little like the Senate and the House of Representatives. The House of Exemplary Persons, which smacks of divine right, is where the problem lies. It’s nice to think that we could all agree on what is right, but when it relies on giving authority to any one religious group or order, no matter how benign that order might be, we are back to the very reasons why the founding fathers insisted on the separation of church and state.

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