UPDATED FEBRUARY 2020

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DISSERTATION

My dissertation, entitled Zhu Xi and Confucian Democracy, draws on Zhu Xi (1130–1200)—a towering figure in the diverse traditions of Confucianism—to challenge the popular perception that Confucianism is essentially a moral defense of autocracy. I demonstrate that Confucianism (or at least one of its influential branches) coheres better with democracy than with autocracy. Indeed, Confucians should embrace participatory democracy because, according to Zhu Xi’s self-cultivation program, political participation enhances their ethical self-cultivation by enabling them to acquire and perfect their political knowledge in practice. Upholding Confucian ethics as my normative standard, my dissertation reconstructs key concepts of Western political philosophy (e.g., democracy, rights, and pluralism) to realize the (Neo-)Confucian moral and political aspiration that all people can and should pursue sagehood by self-cultivation through equal political participation.

A one-page summary of my dissertation can be found here. The manuscript is also available upon request.