Nobility and Civility: Asian Ideals of Leadership and the Common Good


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5.54 X 8.56 X 1.0 inches | 1.06 pounds
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About the Author

William Theodore de Bary was John Mitchell Mason Professor of the University, Emeritus, and Provost Emeritus at Columbia University.


By addressing the fundamental question of whether Asian values can enrich liberal concepts such as liberty, rationality, human rights, and the due process of law, de Bary makes a significant contribution to the current dialogue among civilizations.--Tu Wei-ming, Harvard University
Since the clash of cultures has replaced the wars of nationalism, whoever wants to be intelligent about American foreign policy needs to know more than the press supplies. In Nobility and Civility Wm. Theodore de Bary, the ranking authority on East Asian civilizations, gives the reader a vivid account of the mingled traditions that guided rulers and moved masses over the ages and that still govern feeling and action in China, India, and Japan.--Jacques Barzun, author of From Dawn to Decadence: 500 Years of Western Cultural Life, 1500 to the Present
De Bary shows how notions of nobility and civility arose in South Asia and East Asia and formed the background for their encounter with Western European thought and various forms of modernization and globalization today. These are topics of immense importance not only to scholars but also to any educated person in the modern world.--John Berthrong, coeditor of Confucianism and Ecology
De Bary, arguably the West's leading scholar of classical Asian thought, has written an elegant and thoughtful essay on the essence of true leadership and political virtue as expounded in the classics of Confucianism, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Japanese thought. Instead of treating the classical writings of Asia as mere relics of 'traditional' thought that will be replaced by more 'modern' thinking, he demonstrates that the great books of Asia contain within them valuable concepts and insights for preserving civilized life in an age of materialistic globalization...Just to follow de Bary's journeys through Asian classical texts is an intellectually broadening experience for anyone, including specialists on contemporary Asia.-- (01/01/2005)
De one of the few scholars trying to probe beneath the easy generalizations about East Asian values. [He] has devoted his career to probing the moral underpinnings of Asia's successes and failures--and his latest book explores how those ethics are poised to transform the West.-- (01/22/2005)
In a time when nobility is scarce, civility in short supply, and intercultural understanding badly needed, this book belongs in every library. De Bary draws on a lifetime of study and reflection to summarize and distill how three very different Asian traditions (Chinese, Indian, Japanese) addressed issues of governance and civil life in a process shaped by intellectual and political contestation and compromise. Written in a clear language free of jargon and supported by quotations from major texts, de Bary presents a coherent overview that should generate discussion (and contestation).-- (06/01/2005)
William Theodore de Bary has long been an influential voice among Asianists and a leading proponent of cross-cultural dialogue. The author's insightful discussion about inter-Confucian discourse concerning nobility and civility is carried over into the four-chapter study of how the Japanese have tended to think about and develop interpretations of noble personhood and the common good.--Tom Pynn "Journal of Ethics in Leadership "