Over the past half-century, China has experienced some incredible human dramas, ranging from Red Guard fanaticism and the loss of education for an entire generation during the Cultural Revolution, to the Tiananmen tragedy, the economic miracle, and its accompanying fad of money worship and the rampancy of official corruption. Social Ethics in a Changing China: Moral Decay or Ethical Awakening? provides a rich empirical narrative and thought-provoking scholarly arguments, highlighting the imperative for an ethical discourse in a country that is increasingly seen by many as both a materialistic giant and a spiritual dwarf.
Professor He Huaihong was not only an extraordinary firsthand witness to all of these dramas, he played a distinct role as a historian, an ethicist, and a social critic exploring the deeper intellectual and sociological origins of these events. Incorporating ethical theories with his expertise in culture, history, religion, literature, and politics of the country, He reviews the remarkable transformation of ethics and morality in the People’s Republic of China and engages in a global discourse about the major ethical issues of our time. The book aims to reconstruct Chinese social ethics in an innovative philosophical framework, reflecting China’s search for new virtues.
Thornton Center Chinese Thinkers Series
Foreword by John L. Thornton
Introduction by Cheng Li
1. Reconstructing China’s Social Ethics
2. Historical and Sociological Origins of Chinese Cultural Norms
3. The Transformation of Ethics and Morality in the PRC
4. China’s Ongoing Moral Decay?
5. Ethical Discourse in Reform Era China
6. Chinese Ethical Dialogue with the West and the World
Praise for Social Ethics in a Changing China
—Roger T. Ames, professor of philosophy, University of Hawai’i
Social Ethics in a Changing China identifies the universal moral foundations of Confucian values in order to suggest ways in which those values can be realized in contemporary Chinese society. His knowledge and candor about China, old and new, is impressive and will illuminate China even for non-specialists. Because Professor He investigates the foundations of morality, his book is a significant contribution to political theory in general.
—Aloysius Patrick Martinich, Roy Allison Vaughan Centennial Professor of Philosophy, University of Texas at Austin
All societies need a “moral foundation.” Today’s China especially needs to rebuild its ethical base, given society’s rapid changes and development. This rebuilding not only needs to suit modern Chinese society, but must also be based on the intrinsic traditions of Chinese culture. This volume by He Huaihong explains this need from the perspective of ethics more pointedly and profoundly than any other.
—Chen Lai, professor of philosophy and dean of the Academy of Chinese Learning, Tsinghua University