Wednesday, June 17, 2015

397. David Weir: Confucian thought Irrelevant to American Revolution

For David Weir, from the Cooper Union for the Advancement ofScience and Art, “Confucian thought ultimately proved irrelevant to the revolutionary shift from colony to nation that the founding fathers accomplished. “ (American Orient: Imaging the East from the Colonial Era Through the Twentieth Century, p.15.) If we agree with him, we have to agree that Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, James Madison were irrelevant to the revolutionary shift from the colony to nation. The above founding fathers had studied Confucian ideas and applied them to solve the moral and educational issues in the process of the formation of the new nation. Let see what Weir claimed in his book, All three (Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams) “ were aware if the political import of Confucius, who entered into American political thought mainly by way of the great European philosophers that the nation’s founders admired and respected: Leibniz, Condorecet, Voltaire, and others.” (ibid. p.15) For your convenience I put the picture of the page on the right. 

Clearly, Mr. Weir contradicted himself on the same page in the same book he wrote in 2011.  He agreed that Confucius ideas had an impact on the founders before the founding of the United States on one hand, but, on the other hand, he claimed,  in the founding era, the Confucius impact on the founders suddenly disappeared. The history of the United States founding was cut. The problem with his conclusion was that the founding father didn’t die before the founding of the United States. Some of them lived long after the founding of the nation. Benjamin Franklin passed away in 1790. Thomas Jefferson and John Adams passed away in 1826, fifty years after 1776. Further more, their influence on the United States never die out. Their efforts to borrow positive elements from other cultures always inspire the people of the United States. As for more information on the founding of the United States and Confucius, please read Dr. Dave Wang’s essay, Confucius in American Founding (Virginia Review of Asian Studies, volume 16 (2014) 11-26).

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