In Neo-Confucians’ views, morality takes its root either in the universal goodness of human nature, or in the individual’s moral reflection and cultivation of the human mind.
This debate between the was one of the major themes in Neo-Confucianism.
Although it is an exaggeration to characterize traditional Chinese life and culture as Confucian, Confucian ethical values have for well over 2,000 years served as the source of inspiration as well as the court of appeal for human interaction between individuals, communities, and nations in the Sinitic world.
The story of Confucianism does not begin with Confucius.
The final essay, a comparative study on Neo-Confucianism and A. Whitehead’s process philosophy, led an important direction for comparative philosophy.
de Bary 1981, written by a distinguished historian de Bary, contains three essays.
East Asians may profess themselves to be Shintōists, Daoists, Buddhists, Muslims, or Christians, but, by announcing their religious affiliations, seldom do they cease to be Confucians.
Although often grouped with the major historical religions, Confucianism differs from them by not being an organized religion.
Both Bol 2008 and de Bary 1981 take the historical approach.
Bol 2008 covers the cultural and political background in which neo-Confucianism emerged and developed, while de Bary 1981 traces the development of neo-Confucian orthodoxy from the Yuan dynasty to Tokugawa Japan. This book is a collection of essays by the author, who has been plowing the field for many years and is instrumental in promoting Chinese philosophy in the West.