The History of Chinese Philosophy: Continuity vs. Change
New Confucianism and The Revival of Yogacara Buddhism in Modern China
Since the 1970s, New Confucian philosophy has been growing in influence in "cultural China" to become the dominant philosophical current in Chinese philosophy of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. Its rise to pre-eminence in mainland China over the past two decades is nothing short of phenomenal. Its proponents claim that it is the legitimate transmitter and representative of orthodox Confucian values. It remains the case, however, that the negative and positive roles Buddhism has played in the construction of New Confucian philosophy generally remains muted or absent in contemporary accounts that emphasize the movement's connections with Confucian traditions of the Song and Ming periods. In this presentation Professor Makeham aims to show why an adequate understanding of New Confucian philosophy must include an understanding of the role that Buddhist thought played in its construction. This claim consists of two arguments. First, that Yogacara Buddhist thought was both a resource and a foil for major New Confucian figures. Second, that New Confucianism's most influential theorists, Xiong Shili and Mou Zongsan, both sided with Sinitic Buddhism -- that is, traditions such as Huyan, Tiantai, and Chan that first developed in China -- in construction their philosophical systems.
John Makeham, Australian National University