“Is There a Social Justice Dimension in Li (禮)?” By Jonathan Sim

Is There a Social Justice Dimension in Li (禮)?

In the book, Confucian Perfection: A Political Philosophy for Modern Times, Joseph Chan argues for a Confucian perspective on social justice, based on his study on early Confucian writings. While the notion of social justice did not exist in that period, the early Confucian thinkers nonetheless approached and attempted to address issues closely linked to our modern understanding of social justice, such as the problems of inequality, poverty, and the redistribution of material goods. Through this approach, Chan arrives at three principles to a Confucian perspective on social justice: (1) sufficiency for all; (2) priority to the badly off; and (3) merit and contribution (pp. 175-176).

Yet, what is interesting about Chan’s conclusion is that these principles are regarded as rituals, li (禮) in early Confucian texts, as well as in the Liji (禮記 The Book of Rites). In this paper, I will investigate the relation of social justice and li, by examining the early Confucian texts, and I attempt to determine whether there is a social justice dimension inherent to the concept of li.

Date: 28 February 2017, Tuesday
Time: 2pm to 3pm
Venue: Philosophy Resource Room (AS3-05-23)

About the speaker:
Jonathan Sim graduated in 2013 from NUS with a B.A. (First Class Honours) in Philosophy, and has since been invited to speak on various philosophical issues for the Financial Times, Channel News Asia, and the Institute for Asian Consumer Insight. His research interests include early Chinese philosophy, comparative philosophy, ethics, political philosophy, and the philosophy of technology.

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