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The Contemporary Revival of Confucianism

Anshen liming or the Religious Dimension of Confucianism
Sébastien Billioud and Joël Thoraval
p. 88-106


Since the beginning of the century, the resurgence in Mainland China of what is referred to as “Confucianism” has included a “religious” dimension. The term “religious” is here used to characterise a variety of explorations where the quest for “inner peace” also echoes a concern for individual or collective destiny (anshen liming). In order to understand these phenomena better, this article first examines an individual story that provides insight into what a Confucian religious experience may be today. This example is then placed within the context of shifting categories (religion, philosophy, science) once accepted as self-evident but now being questioned by elites and other groups in society. Finally, to give a sense of various explicit projects oriented towards achieving recognition of Confucianism as an official and institutionalised religion, the article analyses three such efforts seeking to institute Confucianism either as a “religion on par with other official religions,” as the “state religion,” or as “civil religion.”

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Electronic reference

Sébastien Billioud and Joël Thoraval, « The Contemporary Revival of Confucianism », China Perspectives [Online], 2008/3 | 2008, Online since 01 July 2011, connection on 24 May 2017. URL :

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