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78 Henry Rasemzont, J1:

early Confucians of the meaning of life, we may nevertheless see that their
view of what it is to be a human being provided for every person to find
meaning bz life.22
All of these issues, I submit, and many more like them, cannot be
addressed properly without making a consideration of values explicit, see-
ing human beings as role and valuc-carrying persons, and s e e i q them as
value carriers all of the time, both ethically and epistemologically; which is
the thrust of early Confucian interpersonal particularism and much con-
temporary feminism, 1t is a l~umanisticthrust, but it does not require the
concept of rights o r of universal principles ostensibly binding o n all
autonomous, self-interested individuals,
1 11avc pressed these views of what it is tu be a human being, and the
moral particularism that flows from them, for a number of reasons. In the
first place, as noted earlier, I believe they much more nearly resemble the
views of three-yuarters of the human race than does the Enlightenment
view; If this is so, then they should command, if not conviction, then at
least our careful attention, for otherwise there is little hope for a United
Natiorata being u n h d h anything but fear of those who have the most
powerful armies.
Second, Confucianism is a moral tradition of great longevity, and simply
in terms of the sheer numbers of people directly influenced by it in Cfillza
itself-people who lived and died in accordance with its vision-it is
arguably the most significant philosophy ever put forward; it should
surely not be dkrnissed merely on the grounds of its antiquity,
Further, it nlust be renlembered that Conhcianlsm was attacked at its
inception by Daoists, Mohists, Legalists, and proponents of others of the
"Hundred Schools" of carIy Chinese thought. tatcr, and for scvcral cen-
turies, it was almost totally eclipsed by Buddhism. Later still, it was chal-
lenged by Christianity, first by the Jesuits and Franciscans of the late six-
teenth axrd seventeenth centuries, and then by both Catholic and
Protestant missionaries of the nineteenth and twentieth, these latter hav-
ing been botcresscd by the gunboat diplomacy acfendarlt on ffle imyerial-
istic "coming of the West" to China. And of course dcmocraticicxyitaIfs-
tic thought, as well as Marxist thought, has contributed much t o
onslaughts on the Confucian philosophical tradition. From all of these
chalIenges Confucianism recovered, was re-vision&, endured. This his-
torical perspective should lead us to consider not that Confucianism must
be irrelevant to contemporary ethical issues, nor that it should be put to
rest, but, rather, that there might be much in that tradition that sgcaks not
merely to East Asians but perhaps to everyone. N o t only in the past, but
perhaps for all time.