MRI Forum 73

"Altruism and Christian-Confucian Dialogue"

by Lai Pan Chiu

29 May 2013






Summary of the Presentation

Altruism is both an ethical principle and a human phenomenon being studied by scholars from various academic disciplines and philosophical / religious backgrounds. There are some comparative or dialogical studies focusing on the Christian and Confucian views of altruism and the related concepts such as ren and agape. This lecture attempts to show that many of these studies tend to stereotype the traditions to be compared, highlight their dissimilarities, downplay their similarities, and neglect the plurality of positions in the respective traditions. These methodological problems are not particular to a few individual scholars, but may reflect the historical and social influences on the Chinese academia as a whole. If these methodological limitations can be overcome, altruism can be a very useful concept, which can become the focus of fruitful dialogue between Christianity and Confucianism.

Profile of the Speaker

Lai Pan-Chiu is Professor in the Department of Cultural & Religious Studies, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China. He has published extensively on religious pluralism, inter-religious dialogue (especially Buddhist-Christian and Christian-Confucian), modern Christian theology (including Chinese Christian theology) in both Chinese and English. His recent publications include: Christian-Confucian Dialogue and Ecological Concern (co-authored with Lin Hongxing, in Chinese, 2006); Sino-Christian Theology: A Theological Qua Cultural Movement in Contemporary China (co-edited with Jason Lam; Frankfurt: Peter Lang, 2010); Plurality, Diversity and Identity: Explorations in Theology and Culture (in Chinese, 2011); Mahayana Christian Theology: Thought-Experiments of Sino-Christian Theology (in Chinese, 2011); Friend or Foe? The Pluralistic Relationship between Science and Religion (co-authored with Jason Lam and So Yuen-tai, in Chinese, 2012).