5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on March 29, 2005
In his new book de Bary examines many Asian cultures to see what they have to offer to the "humanizing" of the march towards globalization. He traces the history of Confucianism in both China and Japan (also Buddhism is discussed). There is a separate chapter on India. He rejects the "clash of civilizations" model and says, "We owe it to ourselves to make another more determined effort to understand how the... resources available within these traditions afford the means for a meaninful discourse to take palce on each other's terms." This is an important book by Professor de Bary who, at 85, is one of the deans of Asian Studies in the United States.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on December 31, 2008
De Bary's objective is to counter the crude and equally dominant reading of the classical literary records of the Orient as bespeaking nothing but crude interests.
The author contends that the pre-modern Orient was as much oriented towards a democratic ideal as has been the West ever since its infancy.
The main problem with de Bary's book is that it is based almost entirely upon historicist and "multiculturalist" assumptions alien to the records he interprets. Notions such as "ideals" and "values" pervade and frame most arguments, preventing them from allowing the reader to see the realities they are imposed upon without severe distortions. In this crucial respect, de Bary's "apology" of its Oriental authors does a disservice to them.
This book provides evidence that one cannot resist post-modernism's tyrannical reduction of all meaning to self-expressive power, by merely returning to Kant's "as if"--all the more where one replaces Kant's confidence in the autonomy of reason with a sentimental appeal to "traditions". In order to free itself from its limitations, de Bary's work would have to question (or at least "bracket") its "Christian" reading of Nature. Only then would the "Oriental" (or rather, pre-modern) appeal to Nature as fundamental point of reference for the determination of Right, be allowed to manifest its roots in their own light.