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This transformation can happen even in the first half of this century. Based on a new interpretation of the Confucian tradition, the New Confucianism proposes the transition of the Communist government to a new kind of social and political order, based on legitimately Chinese traditions.
The New Confucianism is not a recent movement. Yet, over the last two decades, this movement is becoming stronger in mainland China, and the Chinese government has allowed it to act with significant freedom. Brazil should be attentive of these changes. The Brazilians consider China an ideal partner for the future. But Brazil no has a significant sinological tradition. Much of society ignores the culture and history of China. Some Brazilian Marxist intellectuals few believe that the Chinese political and economic model should be copied by Brazil.
But which model? This applies to the case of New Confucianism. The readers have a great difficulty to understanding the question. These difficulties have direct relation to how the character of Confucius was built in the Brazilian imaginary. Brazilian universities do not know the Chinese thought. This situation creates deep problems to understand the work of the ancient Chinese sage.
In this essay, we study the history of Confucius in Brazil, and see how the Brazilians have a much distorted view of this doctrine.
Finally, we discuss the difficulties for the Brazilians, in the future, to understand the political transition in contemporary China, and the consequences it may generate. The appearance of Confucius in the Brazilian intellectual context It was in the 19th century that the name of Confucius first emerged, with strength, among Brazilian intellectuals.
Brazil was still an empire. It may seem strange that this text start with this information. We shall see, however, that the foundation of this group shows a very strong aspect in the Brazilian mentality: a religious interpretation. In Spiritism, a soul can appear face a group, using an invented name. The issue is that few in Brazil that period knew Confucius. There was no translation into Portuguese of Confucian books. Although the Spiritism of Allan Kardec proposes to be a segment of Christianity, it was repudiated by Catholics as a dangerous heresy.
Brazil was already one of the largest Catholic country in the world at the time. Maybe Spiritualists seek a differential with the rest of the Brazilian Christians. The spiritual figure of Confucius disappears. The move attracted a lot of interest people, which increased in number rapidly. Anyone figure, out the Western history and philosophy was considered a priori a religious personage.
This situation has created a deep prejudice in Brazilian society, against thinkers from Asia and Africa. Since these personages were always treated as religious figures, Brazilian society, almost every Christian, tended to repudiate them.
At most, they were treated as mere curiosity. The second lesson, however, was the following: any of these Afro- Asian thinkers only arouse some interest if dialoguing - and serve — to the Brazilian Catholic Christian thought.
This second lesson was crucial to the diffusion of Confucian thought, in Brazil. According to Raimon Panikkar 2, on the symbolic level that would be able to construct representations may allow the identification of common ideas across 1 See Ribeiro, L. From this, one can also construct equivalent concepts that meet the intellectual reading of the cultures in which they are developed and, however, possible to define a common identity among them.
These concepts, according to Panikkar, address the need to create a specific plan on which intercultural dialogue can develop, allowing agents of cultures involved have a common point of support. But an intellectual interpretation of these symbols is necessary. And, in the Brazilian case, the figure of Confucius would be adapted as a religious icon - but serving to Christianity.
Confucius in Brazilian literature There is a lapse of nearly fifty years between the activities of ' Confucius' Group ' and the resumption of interest in China.
Brazil had changed significantly: it was a consolidated republic since the year During the First World War , the Brazilian government tried to appear in the international political scene with greater intensity. There was a renovation in diplomatic activities of the country. The Brazilian public, yet timid way, begins to express some interest about world geopolitics.
Seizing the opportunity, Brazilian publishers search publications that could better explain the Chinese culture. Then, coming the first translations of fragments of the works of Confucius. The two books have the same problems: they are only fragments of texts of Confucius, and both invest in a religious vision of Confucius.
This is the likely reason why the editions achieve some success with the Brazilian public. The main ideas of Confucianism are always compared to Christianity in a positive way.
Confucius was virtually treated like an Old Testament prophet, he knew about God, but do not know Jesus. The Brazilian public still did not adequately meet the Confucian philosophical project, and the university was not interested in a religious figure.
So, to sell books, it reinforced a prejudice, and Confucius was still practically a stranger. Probably for this reason, a single academic study of Confucius was published: Apologia do Confucianismo The Apology of Confucianism, , written by Orientalist Giuseppe Tucci.
Translated from Italian, this small - but informative - introduction to Confucius and Confucianism did not obtain any impact from the public, and unfortunately, it was forgotten. Lin Yutang In , the study of China in Brazil receives a significant contribution. The work of Lin Yutang was very well received by the public, but it takes an important remembrance: the author was a Christian.
This question, as we have seen, was important in the Brazilian mentality. The Chinese seemed as proto-Christians, and the Brazilian public felt calmer. It was a matter of time before China becomes a Christian. Again, Confucius emerged as one of those unconscious propagators of God.
A detail should be added: Lin Yutang published several novels, and his sinological work was not considered seriously. The Brazilian public was not accustomed with scholars who were also writers. And how Chinese culture was still regarded superficially, the historical and philosophical books edited by Lin not received an academic consideration. Their sinological works were treated as literary texts, and Chinese historical passages were seen often as mythological passages, like Homer's Iliad.
The task was arduous: Priest Kao had to appeal to the Christian soul of the western world, and at the same time, convincing people that the Chinese not comes from another planet.
What was the strategy adopted by the Priest? Not to be confused with the priest Nicholas Kao Se Tsien , other important priest from Hong Kong with similar name. Rio de Janeiro: Zahar. Priest Kao published another book in the same direction: Confucionismo e Tridemismo Confucianism and Tridemism, , which explains the relationship between Confucianism and political theory of Sun Yatsen, the patron of the Chinese republic.
The answer is simple: Kao was a religious Priest, and by this reason, an authority recognized by the Catholic Church. In the Brazilian mentality, that made its warnings against communism an absolutely serious question. The Priest Kao could, therefore, become Confucius in a religious Christian and political anti-communist personage.
At that time, occurred the Korean War , in which Communist China was involved. Church services and cults were prayed throughout Brazil, clamoring for the end of the war. The Brazilian government has considered sending troops to Korea to assist the UN, but preferred to maintain their neutrality. In , the project of Priest Kao was practically buried. The communist government was consolidated in mainland definitely. This, for most Brazilians, made China a terrifying country atheist and communist and Confucius, a failure as a religious and political.
Again, Confucius is rescued as an Eastern mystic sage - but this time, he went from being Christian. There was a search for religious options, in general non-Western, mystical, and to propose some sort of alternative individual freedom.
Clearly, the path has not helped in the development of a legitimate Brazilian Sinology. He repeated the same previous errors: Asian authors were considered as purely religious, regardless of its history and philosophy. Disparaged as a finished religious form, the doctrine of Confucianism did not motifs to arouse any serious academic interest. Brazilians Intellectuals unknown the work of the Asian and North American philosophical Confucianism. Betting on Confucianism seemed, in fact, a useless eccentricity.
The book, though excellent, bringing the texts of a conference held in ! Still, it was one of the first efforts to introduce Asian philosophies seriously. However, it would be quickly eclipsed by the return of the Asian knowledge by the esoteric way. It is the Brazilian esotericism that would rescue Confucius, Buddha and other Asian thinkers. Embedded in the chaotic systemization of esoteric 'universal wisdom', the 'Eastern teachers' began to resurface on the desks of the esoteric centers, sharing space with transcendental meditation, martial arts, astrology, runes, crystals and tarots.
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