Sublating Sinic Relationism

On a Winding Path from Transcultural to Global Ethics


  • Jana S. ROŠKER University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Arts, Slovenia



transcultural ethics, Sinic relationism, Ruism, Ruist role-ethics, post-compara­tive philosophy, sublation


This paper aims to bring into the global ethics debate concrete alternative models of specific relational ethics developed in the context of Sinic traditions that have not yet been widely introduced into Western scholarship or integrated into the framework of global discourses on ethics and morality. Although much research has been done on certain elements and aspects of such ethical models, there have been no concrete attempts to incorporate them into a global axiological framework that could have helped humanity develop strategies for solving the current global crises we face.

The paper first provides a critical overview of the conceptual history, specific characteristics, and social relevance of relationism. It then addresses the question of how relational ethical models could be integrated into the value system of contemporary global ethics without reproducing the still dominant normativity of Western epistemology and its corresponding axiology. After highlighting some problems related to the methodology and structure of traditional models of comparative philosophy and ethics, the author suggests that this integration of relationism into the general framework of global ethics could be done by applying a new method, which can be tentatively called the method of transcultural philosophical sublation. Starting from different frames of reference that define the basic tenets of modern Western and traditional Chinese axiology, the author demonstrates the application of this method on the example of different conceptions of the human self.


Download data is not yet available.


Arendt, Hannah. 1998. The Human Condition. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Bell, Daniel. 2010. China’s New Confucianism: Politics and Everyday Life in a Changing Society. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Chakrabarti, Arindam, and Ralph Weber. 2016. “Introduction.” In Comparative Philosophy without Borders, edited by Arindam Chakrabarti, and Ralph Weber, 1–33. London: Bloomsbury Academic.

Cheng Chung-ying 成中英, ed. 2002. On Comparative Origins of Classical Chinese Ethics and Greek Ethics. Special issue of the Journal of Chinese Philosophy 29 (3).

Cheng, Chung-ying, and Nicholas Bunnin, eds. 2002. Contemporary Chinese Philosophy. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers.

Elstein, David. 2015a. “Classical Ruist Political Thought.” In Democracy in Contemporary Confucian Philosophy, 23–41. New York: Routledge.

———. 2015b. “Contemporary Confucianism.” In The Routledge Companion to Virtue Ethics, edited by Lorraine Besser-Jones, and Michael Slote, 237–51. New York: Routledge.

Eno, Robert. 1990. The Confucian Creation of Heaven: Philosophy and the Defence of Ritual Mastery. New York: SUNY.

Hall, David, and Roger Ames. 1987. Thinking through Confucius. NY, Albany: SUNY.

———. 1995. Anticipating China. NY, Albany: SUNY.

———. 1998. Thinking From the Han: Self, Truth, and Transcendence in Chinese and Western Culture. NY, Albany: SUNY.

———. 2018. “Dewey, China, and the Democracy of the Dead.” In Justice and Democracy, edited by Marietta Stepaniants, and Engelbert Kaempfer, 257–75. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press.

Heubel, Fabian. 2021. Was ist chinesische Philosophie? Kritische Perspektiven. Hamburg: Meiner.

Huang, Chun-chieh. 2005. “How is ‘East Asian Confucianism’ Possible?” Journal of Shandong University (Philosophy and Social Sciences) (1): 455–68.

———. 2014. Humanism in East Asian Confucian Contexts. Bielefeld: transcript-Verlag.

———. 2018. “Why Speak of ‘East Asian Confucianisms’?” In Confucianisms for a Changing World Cultural Order, edited by Roger T. Ames, and Peter H. Hershock, 75–86. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press.

Huang, Yong. 2016. “Confucian Environmental Virtue Ethics (Focusing on Wang Yangming).” In Routledge Handbook of Religion and Ecology, edited by Willis J. Jenkins, Mary Evelyn Tucker, and John Grim. Taylor & Francis Group, ProQuest Ebook Central. Accessed February 10, 2022.

———. 2020. “Why Confucian Ethics Is a Virtue Ethics, Virtue Ethics is Not a Bad Thing, and Neville Should Endorse It.” Journal of Chinese Philosophy 47 (3): 283–94.

Jullien, François. 2016. “Une culture n’a pas d’identité car elle ne cesse de se transformer.” Interview with Anastasia Vécrin. Libération, October 1, 2016: 20–21.

Kahteran, Nevad, and Ralph Weber. 2021. “Towards Post-Comparative Philosophy: Interview With Ralph Weber.” Asian Studies 9 (2): 211–21. Accessed February 18, 2022.

Klenk, Michael. 2019. “Moral Philosophy and the ‘Ethical Turn’ in Anthropology.” ZEMO 2: 331–53. Accessed February 18, 2022.

Lambek, Michael, ed. 2010. Ordinary Ethics: Anthropology, Language, and Action. New York: Fordham University Press.

Lee, Ming Huei 李明輝. 2014. “Dangdai xin rujia ‘Ruxue kaichu minzhu lun’de lilun yihanyu xianshi yiyi 當代新儒家「儒學開出民主論」的理論意涵與現實意義 (The Meaning and the Practical Significance of the Contemporary New Confucian “Theory of Developing Democracy from Confucianism.” Asian Studies 2 (1): 7–18. Accessed February 18, 2022.

Li Zehou 李澤厚. 1980. “Kongzi zai pingjia 孔子再評價 (A Reevaluation of Confucius).” Zhongguo shehui kexue 2: 77–96.

———. 1995. “‘Lunyu jindu’ qinyan”《論語今讀 》前言 (Foreword to the ‘Reading the Analects Today’).” Zhongguo wenhua (1): 26–34.

———. 2010. Lunlixue gangyao 倫理學綱要 (An Outline of Ethics). Beijing: Renmin ribao chuban she.

Roetz, Heiner. 1993. Confucian Ethics of the Axial Age. Albany, New York: SUNY.

———. 2013. “A Comment on Pragmatism in Chinese Studies.” In Dongya shiyu zhong de ruxue: Xiandai de huiying (Confucianism in East Asian Perspective: Modern Responses), edited by Yang Chen-Te, 279–99. Taipei: Academia Sinica.

———. 2017. “Die Achsenzeit im Diskurs der chinesischen Moderne.” Polylog (38): 63–80.

Rosemont, Henry, Jr. 2015. Against Individualism: A Confucian Rethinking of the Foundations of Morality, Politics, Family, and Religion. Lanham: Lexington Books.

Rosemont, Henry Jr., and Roger T. Ames. 2016. Confucian Role-Ethics: A Moral Vision for the 21st Century? Taibei: National Taiwan University Press.

Rošker, Jana S. 2005. Na ozki brvi razumevanja: medkulturna metodologija v sinoloških študijah. Ljubljana: Znanstvena založba FF.

———. 2012. “Cultural Conditionality of Comprehension: The Perception of Autonomy in China.” In Reinventing Identities, edited by Cao Qing, 26–42. Tianjin: Nankai daxue chuban she.

———. 2021. Interpreting Chinese Philosophy: A New Methodology. London, New York: Bloomsbury Academic.

———. 2022. “Comparing Logical Paradoxes through the Method of Sublation: Hui Shi, Zeno and the ‘Flying Arrow Problem’.” Asian Studies 10 (2): 299–312.

Sandel, Michael, and Paul D’Ambrosio. 2018. Encountering China. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.

Schroeder, Sarah L. 2013. “The Remarkable Human Self.” In APS – Association for Psychological Science, December 24, 2013. Accessed March 3, 2022.

Shun, Kwong-Loi, and David Wong, eds. 2004. Confucian Ethics: A Comparative Study of Self, Autonomy, and Community. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Silius, Vytis. 2020. “Diversifying Academic Philosophy.” Asian Studies 8 (2): 257–80.

Song, Bin. 2017. “Dr. Bin Song on the Meaning of Ru 儒 for Confucianism.” Huffpost, August 14, 2017. Accessed February 8, 2022.

———. 2019. “Comparative Metaphysics and Theology as a Scientific Endeavor: A Ruist (Confucian) Perspective.” Socio-Historical Examination of Religion and Ministry 1 (2): 203–24.

Weber, Ralph. 2014. “Comparative Philosophy and the Tertium: Comparing What with What, and in What Respect?” Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 13 (2): 151–71.

Wittfogel, Karl August. 1957. Oriental Despotism: A Comparative Study of Total Power. London: Yale University Press.

Xunzi 荀子. s.d. Chinese Text Project online open-access library. Accessed June 15, 2020.

Yu, Kam-por, Julia Tao, and Philip J. Ivanhoe, eds. 2010. Taking Confucian Ethics Seriously. New York: SUNY.




How to Cite

Rošker, J. S. (2022). Sublating Sinic Relationism: On a Winding Path from Transcultural to Global Ethics. Asian Studies, 10(3), 81–104.

Most read articles by the same author(s)

1 2 3 4 5 > >>