Confucian questions to Augustine: is my cultivation of Self your care of the Soul?
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In this thesis I compare the works of Confucius and Mencius with those of Saint Augustine. My purpose in so doing is to show Confucian Augustinianism as a new theological perspective on Confucian- Christian ethics and Augustinianism by discovering analogies and differences in their respective understandings of the formation of moral self, particularly the acquisition of virtue, and how they believe this leads to happiness. Using the method of inter-textual reasoning, and assuming continuity between Augustine’s early and later works, I compare Confucius and Mencius’s xue (學), si (思) and li (禮) including yue (樂) with Augustine’s moral learning, contemplation, sacrament, and music respectively from chapter two to four. For Augustine the formation of the moral self is the process of finding truth in God. For Confucius and Mencius it is the process of becoming a person of virtue, which follows from growth in self-understanding in relation to the Way (道). For Confucians humans already have potential self-in-heart bestowed by Heaven whereas for Augustine the self is the metaphor of the soul in the struggle of both body and soul to be directed toward the love of God in which true happiness exists. In the concluding chapter, I propose a Confucian Augustinian synthesis as a new theological perspective on Confucian-Christian ethics and Augustinianism which offers a useful medium for the formation of the moral self by mutually making up for their respective weaknesses as revealed by this critical intertextual and cross-cultural reading. I argue that Augustinians can learn the value of public ritual practices and the public political self from classical Confucians whereas Confucians can learn from Augustine the value of spiritual experience in the moral formation of the pubic self. Confucian Augustinianism is teleological, constructive, political, public, sacramental and sin-virtue oriented theology. Confucian Augustinianism which is based on virtue ethics as common ground between Confucians and Augustine not only shows methodologies for engaging in public issues with civil society for its articulation of theology in the public sphere, but also provides profound spirituality with the engagement of Augustinian biblical and systematic theology unlike liberation theologies. In contrast to modern Augustinianism such as Augustinian realism (hope), Augustinian proceduralism (justice), Augustinian civic liberalism (love), and Radical Orthodoxy (love), Confucian Augustinianism highlights the virtue of humility and sincerity (誠) for the practice of love of God and neighbour by offering specific methods for cultivating self. Contrary to Confucian theology according to understanding of Heaven in the Confucian tradition, Confucian Augustinianism focuses on how to embody the Way of Heaven by cultivating virtue (德) rather than the theology of Heaven (天) or lists of virtues. By linking the self to family, community, nation, and transcendent God Confucian Augustinianism shows distinguishing ways for sanctification. Confucian Augustinianism is to seek true happiness by cultivating virtue and promoting inward, outward, and upward self through moral learning, contemplation, sacramental ritual, and music on the basis of biblical truth in a pluralistic global context. It can rectify the limit of Protestant individualism. Confucian Augustinianism is an own angle of Asian Christians on Augustinianism in the rapid growth of Christians in Asia contrary to previous Western Augustinianism. Confucian Augustinianism could make Asian Christians happy in truth.