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Seeking to come ever-closer to sage-hood was a concrete goal for many" p.

This utilization of sagehood as a regulative ideal informs much of his discussion, leading him to write about sagehood from the perspective of non-sages, rather than focus on sagehood in terms of historical or legendary sages. In fact, according to Angle, the utility of the ideal of sagehood does not depend on whether that ideal can be fully realized.

Sagehood: The Contemporary Significance of Neo-Confucian Philosophy

As he puts it, "Taking sage-hood as an ideal, like taking junzi as an ideal, means striving to improve oneself. It means committing oneself to being on the road to sagehood. A few pages later he writes:. There is no need to insist that very many people are or can become sages.

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The only people clearly identified as such are those far in the past, cases in which little is actually known about them and we can almost imagine that their status as 'sage' is partly honorific. I think nothing would be lost if a Confucian were to acknowledge the possibility that there never has been a full-on, one-hundred-percent sage. Angle, however, maintains that the unattainability of this ideal does not vitiate its normative significance. This is because the difference between the full sage and partial sage Project MUSE promotes the creation and dissemination of essential humanities and social science resources through collaboration with libraries, publishers, and scholars worldwide.

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This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless. Institutional Login. LOG IN. Philosophy East and West. In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content: Reviewed by:. A few pages later he writes: There is no need to insist that very many people are or can become sages.

Taking neo-Confucianism seriously means to explore the ways that its theories of psychology, ethics, education, and politics engage with the views of contemporary philosophers. Angle's book is therefore both an exposition of Neo-Confucian philosophy and a sustained dialogue with many leading Western thinkers--and especially with those philosophers leading the current renewal of interest in virtue ethics.

The book's significance is two-fold: it argues for a new stage in the development of contemporary Confucian philosophy, and it demonstrates the value to Western philosophers of engaging with the Neo-Confucian tradition. But that is the case in this instance in which Angle brings Neo-Confucian philosophy into fruitful conversation with contemporary Western, virtue-ethics based analytic philosophers.

The result is a presentation of Neo-Confucianism that advances it beyond any previous Neo-Confucian: Angle is the best in the line so far, at least among those writing or written about in English. Indeed, one thing that makes this book worth reading is the way it puts new and interesting sources into conversation with one another in order to shed new light on the topics at hand.

While this work is certainly recommended for specialists in comparative ethics and Chinese philosophy, it is also a resource for philosophers interested in learning how non-Western philosophy might potentially contribute to work in ethics today. His book is very accessible for readers with a wide variety of backgrounds.

Philosophers with no background in Chinese thought will find challenging and interesting discussions of many issues relevant to their own work.


  • Citations per year.
  • Philosophy East and West?
  • 2010.02.17.
  • Yale Center Beijing.
  • Review of Stephen Angle, Sagehood: The Contemporary Significance of Neo-Confucian Philosophy.

Furthermore, I think this book is also quite appropriate to assign to strong undergraduate students. I recommend it highly.