Confucianism has already been widely regarded as a religious tradition and taught at Western, if not only American, universities. But what is the “Confucian” response to those basic issues that almost every religious tradition has to tackle? Or, if there are some ultimate concerns and questions shared by those religious traditions in the world, what is the Confucian approach to those concerns and questions? This research project I am working on by myself is trying to reveal the characteristics of Confucian as a religious or spiritual tradition, especially in a framework of comparing with other great religious traditions in the world such as Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Islam, and so on. For instance, what is the “Confucian” understanding of and attitude toward “death”? What is the “Confucian” definition of and attitude to “scripture”? What different perspectives Confucianism provided and can provide comparing to other religions traditions regarding to these kinds of issues.
I’ve already published a book, Confucian Tradition: Crossing the boundaries of Religion and Humanism, in 2007. It can be regarded as a preparation of the current project I am working on. Some issues have already been touched in that book. But this current project is also going to be a more systematic study of my relevant considerations as mentioned above.
This project I am working on is a book manuscript research plan. It obviously cannot be completed in just a few months. So, the research I would like to carry out during my stay in Bochum will be a sub-section or part of my whole research project. Specifically, I will focus on the dialogical dimension of Confucianism as a religious tradition and its modern relevance and significance. First, I will argue if Confucianism can be regarded as a religious tradition and in what sense this understanding makes sense. Secondly, I will demonstrate there has been a strong dialogical dimension in Confucian tradition all along and this “dialogicalness” should be construed as a distinctive feature of Confucianism. Thirdly, I would like to point out the contributions that a dialogical Confucianism can make to religious dialogue in a global context.