By Lu Zhouxiang, Peter Herrmann
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Additional resources for Conflict and Communication: A Changing Asia in a Globalizing World - Social and Political Perspectives
To begin with, the chapter will analyse the role of sensitivity as the beginning of self-cultivation and will investigate how innate knowledge is developed into moral language. Then, it will discuss the role of the self in Neo-Confucianism and its relation to the issue of the other. Lastly, the concept of Ren as co-humanity and its relation to responsibility will be explained. The discussion will concentrate on the tradition of Confucius, Mencius and Wang Yangming. Though Confucius was the first to stress moral self-cultivation in social life, he did not provide specific ideas on human nature.
In other words, this Thou has its own subjectivity and has the freedom to share its subjectivity with the other subject in a social and multiple relationship. At the same time, the I is also a Thou for the other person in this relationship. Thus, in this situation, the relationship between the I and the Thou is reciprocally established. In other words, the existence of the Thou is for me, and vice versa. This is a mutually ideal relationship, as well as an actual empirical relationship. There is, however, no fixed structure to the I–Thou relationship precisely because this relationship itself is a dynamic event rather than static restraint.
In sum, Confucius’s approach accentuates the mutual response in the communal form of teaching and learning between the minds of two subjectivities. In this section, we have first noted the meaning of innate knowledge and its distinction from ordinary knowledge; second, I pointed out the importance of sensitivity and its relation to sincerity; and, third, I illustrated the way in which Confucius uses moral language in his analects by comparing this with the dialogic method of Plato. From this, we can see that self-cultivation, rather than the conceptual pursuit of moral ideas, plays an essential role in Confucian tradition.