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    Traditional Chinese beliefs from humanistic vision

    Author  :  ZHUO XINPING     Source  :    Chinese Social Sciences Today     2022-08-16


    On Humanistic Religion: Traditional Chinese Beliefs and Daily Life

    On Humanistic Religion: Traditional Chinese Beliefs and Daily Life, written by Li Silong, a professor from the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies at Peking University, summarizes the characteristics of Chinese religion with the concept of “humanistic religion.” It proposes “humanism as the foundation and interaction as the form” is the basic feature of humanistic religion.

    Li has constructed a unique theoretical system of “heavenly laws and human natures—the intellectual basis of Chinese religion,” “interaction, or deity-man telepathy—the mysterious experience of Chinese religion,” “inter-flow and symbiosis—the relationship pattern of Chinese religion,” and “mixed usage of different beliefs—the belief picture of daily life.”

    These four aspects can basically reflect the structure and content of Chinese religion, which are its typical characteristics, and also a new exploration and a new path to develop Chinese religious studies. In Chinese social and cultural traditions, the relationship between culture and deity, that is, the coexistence of ethics and religion, is more important than the relationship between humanity and deity. The understanding of deity is also different from that in Western religion. Therefore, the mystery of Chinese religion can be understood through the “relationship between culture and deity,” which also formed the cognitive and thinking differences between Chinese and Western religion.

    Observing religion from humanism has been studied by scholars in both China and the West. Tang Junyi, renowned contemporary Neo-Confucian thinker, first put forward the idea of “humanistic religion” in 1951. Discussion of the concept started around 2000, but remained scattered, not systematic. In 2010, with the Journal of Humanistic Religion launched by Peking University, and the Institute for Advanced Study of the Humanities and Religion established by Beijing Normal University, the term “humanistic religion” gradually became popular. Li has been devoted to the research field for more than a decade, and this book has made a systematic discussion and theoretical construction of this concept for the first time.

    The book, closely associating traditional Chinese beliefs with daily life, portrays the vivid religious existence and its cultural value. At the same time, the “humanistic religion” is an important achievement made by exploring religion from a cultural vision. It is inspiring to correctly understand religion in contemporary society, especially to objectively recognize the existence of Chinese religion and its significance, and to further encourage people to reflect on Chinese cultural traditions following the idea and rethink the attitude towards religion and related practical measures.


    Zhuo Xinping is a research fellow from the Institute of World Religions at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.





    Editor: Yu Hui

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