Enlightened Compassion and Global Governance with Chinese Characteristics: Oneness, Care, and Cosmopolitanism in the Political Philosophy of Wang Yangming (1472-1529)

Doctoral Dissertation


In this dissertation, I explore the idea of cosmopolitanism in Neo-Confucian political philosophy and the Chinese historical context where a universal authoritarian empire dominated a non-Westphalian order through force and culture. Using textual and historical analysis, I examine and reconstruct Chinese cosmopolitanism and a theory of world order advocated by Wang Yangming (1472-1529), a Neo-Confucian philosopher and general of Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).Wang’s role as a philosopher-statesman provides an ideal case to investigate complex relations between Confucian ethics of compassionate care and the discourses of Sino-centric world order. First, I articulate Wang’s ideas of “being one body with the myriad creatures” and socio-political imaginary of “the world as one family”, and inquire how such “senses of embodied oneness” can be seen as a philosophical and ethical foundation of cosmopolitanism. Next, I examine how his view of psychological holism can be understood as a kind of cosmopolitan sensibility. I further explore its ethical and political implications in the context of Wang’s personal and political career. Finally I turn to Wang’s views on otherness by looking into his memorials on Buddhism as an ethical way of life and competing political culture as well as his commentaries on civilizing ethnic groups on the Southwestern frontier. Such a contextualization allows us to appreciate Wang’s cosmopolitanism which is based on compassion with distinction and sympathetic understanding.


Attribute NameValues
  • etd-07172014-181731

Author Shaojin Chai
Advisor Peter Moody, Jr.
Contributor Fred Dallmayr , Committee Member
Contributor James McAdams, , Committee Member
Contributor Peter Moody, Jr., Committee Chair
Contributor Catherine Zucket , Committee Member
Degree Level Doctoral Dissertation
Degree Discipline Political Science
Degree Name PhD
Defense Date
  • 2014-07-10

Submission Date 2014-07-17
  • United States of America

  • Wang Yangming

  • Chinese

  • cosmopolitanism

  • University of Notre Dame

  • English

Record Visibility Public
Content License
  • All rights reserved

Departments and Units


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