Projects / Programmes source: ARIS

The Confucian revival and the theoretical foundations of Chinese modernization

Research activity

Code Science Field Subfield
6.06.00  Humanities  Culturology   

Code Science Field
H000  Humanities   

Code Science Field
6.04  Humanities  Arts (arts, history of arts, performing arts, music) 
Modern Confucianism, Chinese thought, Chinese culture, Modernization, Cultural impacts
Evaluation (rules)
source: COBISS
Researchers (18)
no. Code Name and surname Research area Role Period No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  28719  PhD Luka Culiberg  Culturology  Researcher  2014 - 2017  128 
2.  28532  PhD Tinka Delakorda Kawashima  Culturology  Researcher  2015 - 2016  67 
3.  38070  PhD Klara Hrvatin  Humanities  Researcher  2016 - 2017  108 
4.  23508  PhD Katja Kolšek  Criminology and social work  Researcher  2016 - 2017  83 
5.  13952  PhD Olga Markič  Philosophy  Researcher  2014 - 2015  350 
6.  24430  PhD Helena Motoh  Philosophy  Researcher  2014 - 2017  180 
7.  23966  PhD Barbara Pihler Ciglič  Linguistics  Researcher  2015 - 2017  179 
8.  13009  PhD Jana Rošker  Culturology  Head  2014 - 2017  790 
9.  16232  PhD Mitja Saje  Culturology  Researcher  2014 - 2015  279 
10.  35805  PhD Tea Sernelj  Culturology  Researcher  2014 - 2017  90 
11.  28019  PhD Irena Srdanović  Linguistics  Researcher  2015  75 
12.  09559  PhD Andrej Ule  Humanities  Researcher  2014  478 
13.  24509  PhD Nataša Vampelj Suhadolnik  Humanities  Researcher  2014 - 2017  260 
14.  24438  PhD Maja Veselič  Anthropology  Researcher  2015 - 2016  132 
15.  35347  PhD Matjaž Vidmar  Culturology  Junior researcher  2014 - 2017  10 
16.  25583  PhD Nataša Visočnik Gerželj  Anthropology  Researcher  2014 - 2017  173 
17.  33081  PhD Sebastjan Vörös  Philosophy  Researcher  2015  201 
18.  39578  PhD Jan Vrhovski  Philosophy  Researcher  2017  82 
Organisations (2)
no. Code Research organisation City Registration number No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  0581  University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Arts  Ljubljana  1627058  98,332 
2.  1510  Science and Research Centre Koper  Koper  7187416000  14,004 
In the 21st century, East Asian societies are redrawing the map of progress: the center of economic, if not political, power is shifting from the Euro-American to the Asian region. This shift confronts us with many problems, related to transformations of material and ideal paradigms that not only define the development of Asian societies as such, but also strongly influence international relations on a global level. Strategic solutions for these problems need to consider broader perspectives in the context of particular cultural backgrounds. Such perspectives are not limited to economic and ecological issues, but include political and social functions of ideologies and culturally conditioned values, representing the axial epistemological grounds which the most characteristic and enduring institutions of these societies rest upon. One of the recent and central theoretical concerns in China (and, in fact, in the entire East Asian region) is related to various developmental trends of the Confucian revival which form the main research subject of the proposed project. This intellectual revival belongs to the most important reversals in modern Chinese history and manifests itself in the philosophical stream of the Modern Confucianism, one of the most significant currents that form new Chinese ideologies of modernization. This stream of thought mainly developed during the 20th century in Taiwan and Hong Kong, but also gained a widespread popularity in most of the other East Asian societies that were traditionally influenced by Confucian thought, as for example Japan and South Korea. In the early 1980s, Modern Confucianism also began to reappear in the P.R. China as one of the most important ideological concerns. This phenomenon is very much worth examining for what it can tell us about our times – and as one of the most important philosophical legacies in the contemporary globalized societies. The current is defined by a search for synthesis between Western and traditional Chinese thought, aiming to elaborate a system of ideas and values, suitable to resolve social and political problems of the modern, globalized world. Thus, the central research questions of the proposed project are not only focused upon the main Modern Confucian philosophical approaches, ideas and methods. The project also aims to illuminate the political, social and ideological backgrounds of the so-called Confucian revival on one hand, and its inherent connection to the theoretical foundations of Chinese modernity on the other.   Based upon Weber’s argument that the Protestant ethic was extremely useful in promoting the rise and the spread of modernization, it is worth trying to critically examine the so-called Post Confucian hypothesis, which has emerged in China during the last decades, and according to which societies based upon the Confucian ethic may in many ways be superior to the West in the pursuit of industrialization, affluence and modernization. Weber also wrote extensively on China, concluding that its traditions were deeply uncongenial to modernization. In order to clarify the question whether such a Eurocentric perspective of modernity is still valid or not, this project aims to investigate the above mentioned presuppositions, following the hypothesis, according to which modernization represents a complex process of social transitions which includes both universal and culturally conditioned elements.   Thus, it is also important to analyze the question whether such an East Asian model is really on its way to generate a non-individualistic (communitarian) version of modernity. The verification of this hypothesis could namely prove that the universally presupposed relation between modernity and individualism which has previously been seen by international modernization theories as “inevitable” or “internal” was, in fact, nothing more than an outcome of specific Western historical paradigms.
Significance for science
Since Modern Confucian efforts to revitalize and reconstruct traditional Confucian thought can be seen as an attempt to counter the dominant ideological trends and preserve Asian cultural identity, the project has significally contributed to the development of theoretical dialogues between Asia and the Europe. Even though before the beginning of the project research there has been a large amount of books and articles on this topic published in Asia, there was still a considerable lack of respective academic work results in Western languages. Previous research has clearly shown that Chinese modernization processes imply certain specific features that can not be regarded as universal. Due to the fact that research in the complex questions regarding the relation between tradition and modernity, between continuity and change in a global context were still in a developmental stage, and due to the fact that Modern Confucian discourses, which represent a relevant part of these studies, were still insufficiently explored by Western theoreticians, the research results have filled an important gap in contemporary intercultural social and philosophic studies. They include important evaluations and improvements upon the knowledge regarding current intellectual transformations in transitional societies of contemporary China. Thus, they have provided a more consistent basis for international relations between Europe (including Slovenia) and China. The project has enabled Slovenian researchers in Chinese studies to provide a systematic and coherent analysis and new interpretations of the contents, axiological innovations and social relevance of Modern Confucianism and to introduce its most relevant contributions to contemporary global theory to a wider academic public in the Western world. Besides, within the framework of the project the research team has established new methodologies for multidisciplinary approaches in the areas of humanities and social sciences, and especially in sinology. The conceptual framework of the project was namely based upon the methodology of intercultural research, which takes into consideration the incommensurability of premise networks in cultures being researched and upon incorporation of research material in native languages for the area to be investigated. Such an approach has ensured a better, more objective and more consistent knowledge on theories of modernization and its cultural conditionality.
Significance for the country
The research results of the project can have a considerable socio-economic impact, especially in the areas of economic exchange and business interactions with the Asian region, particularly for economic contacts of Slovene Republic with the P.R. China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore. The research outcomes will also be important for the continuous support of the present cooperation as well as for the establishment of new contacts with Asian countries, especially China, in the field of cultural development and of the preservation of cultural heritage. The cooperation with European and Chinese partners has offered us possibilities for the deepening of academic collaboration and exchange with Asian regions and especially China. The inclusion of junior researchers (2) and other PhD students (2) as well as (1) researcher who is in the phase of postdoctoral education has offered us additional opportunities for the education of future academic staff in the field of Sinology. Since the new Chinese ideologies are increasingly embracing various elements of Confucian value systems, a better understanding of this stream of thought is of major importance to European think-tanks dealing with China (and other East Asian nations). Besides, Contemporary new Confucian impact is namely also visible in contemporary Chinese theories on international relations. The attempt to understand the complex causes and consequences of relations between China and Slovenia has been facilitated by combined insights of comparative, multi-disciplinary and inter-disciplinary research across the disciplines of Chinese thought, Chinese modern history and Chinese social sciences. Studies in the field of international economy and, more specifically, in the trade relations with China, have namely repeatedly pointed out the importance of sensitivity to local, international and intercultural understandings. The project results, which are directed towards the explanation of the cultural relativity and cultural conditionality of modernity in the case of China, can raise awareness of the differences and similarities between cultural expectations and factual values, as well as improve the understanding of the dynamics of their interaction, as they form the broader context for contemporary relations between China and Europe (including Slovenia). Previous experiences, obtained through observations by the graduates of the Department of Asian and African studies at the Faculty of Arts at the University in Ljubljana, have namely clearly shown that the lack of success in Slovenian business relations with China (especially regarding smaller enterprises) is linked to the lack of knowledge and understanding of China’s cultural peculiarities. To understand the way culture shapes business involves more than learning greetings in local language or, in the case of China, eating with chopsticks. Thus, the research project provided, among other issues, a theoretical framework for examining the meaning of communication in business relations with Eastern Asia and especially with China. By focusing on the analysis of Confucian culture and its present social implications, it can contribute to the increased awareness of international communication. The project results can also facilitate learning about diversity by providing knowledge, sensitivity, respect for the values of others and thus, (equally important), for our own Slovene cultural values.
Most important scientific results Annual report 2014, 2015, final report
Most important socioeconomically and culturally relevant results Annual report 2014, 2015, final report
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