Beyond liberal civil society: Confucian familism and relational strangership

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


This essay argues that if Confucian familism, which has been blamed as the single greatest obstacle to achieving a civil society, is creatively repossessed, the potential looks very promising for constructing a Confucian civil society that is qualitatively different from a liberal civil society predicated on moral individualism, and for underpinning its unique mode of civility ("sociability") and citizenship ("strangership"). This essay first shows that the intrinsic value of the Confucian family consists in "filial and fraternal responsibility" (xiaodi), then contends that a Confucian self-cultivation (xiushen) that involves a double transformation of individuality and relationality (due to the very nature of the Confucian self being a relational self) engenders a responsible moral agent that is at once filial and civil. It concludes by proposing "relational strangership" as the backbone of a Confucian civil society.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)476-498
Number of pages23
JournalPhilosophy East and West
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2010 Oct

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Philosophy


Dive into the research topics of 'Beyond liberal civil society: Confucian familism and relational strangership'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this