Skip to main content
Replacing Liberal Confucianism with Progressive Confucianism
Journal of Confucian Philosophy and Culture (2019)
  • Stephen C. Angle, Wesleyan University
The core thesis of this essay is that “progressive Confucianism” is a clear and viable category, a label for many though not all contemporary Confucians, which succeeds in capturing what is useful about so-called “liberal” Confucianism without suffering from various problems to which I show “liberal Confucianism” falls prey. The essay begins with examples of progressive Confucians being labeled as “liberal” in ways that are misleading. I next turn to the use of “liberal” by influential twentieth-century New Confucians and then look at some contemporary theorists who are often labeled “liberal Confucians.” Overall, for reasons having to do both with content and with rhetoric, I argue that even some Confucians who have been content to be called “liberal Confucians” should resist this label and identify as progressive Confucians instead, although others with “dual- commitments” may still prefer “liberal Confucian” or even “Confucian liberal.” The essay concludes with some further clarification of the senses in which progressive Confucians use the idea of “progress.”    
  • progressive Confucianism,
  • liberal Confucianism,
  • progress,
  • liberalism,
  • ziyou 自由,
  • Mou Zongsan,
  • Qiu Feng,
  • Huang Yushun,
  • Bao Wenxin
Publication Date
Citation Information
Stephen C. Angle. "Replacing Liberal Confucianism with Progressive Confucianism" Journal of Confucian Philosophy and Culture (2019)
Available at: