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The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the “Spirits” of Confucian Ethics
April 10,2019   By:CSHRS
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the “Spirits” of Confucian Ethics
 
HUANG Aijiao*
 
Abstract: At present, the value revealed in the Universal Decla-ration of Human Rights is under attack, and the consensus on human rights value is experiencing division globally, which asserts that “human rights can only be provided by paradox”. The root of this is that “reason”, the metaphysical nature of human rights proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, is infinitely magnified while the “spirit” is ignored. History and philosophy show that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights entails the Confucian ethical “spirit”. At this time, this potential factor is gradually emerging in the course of world history and became a force to bridge the global division of human rights values. The significance of Confucian ethics “spirit” to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights lies in: from the perspective of “spirit”, its holistic view, bridging individual rights and collective rights; its relational view focuses on the realization of human rights and transcends the “paradox of human right; progressing from the value consensus to common action, so that in the process of judging the progress of human rights in the world, we consider not only the value consensus, but also the common action.
 
Keywords: Universal Declaration of Human Rights, human rights, Confucian Ethnics Reason, “Spirits”
 
I. The Struggle Between the Two Forces of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
 
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 10, 1948, is considered to be “a common standard to be followed by all peoples and all nations”. At the same time, it reveals and confirms some common human values, such as “basic human rights, human dignity, value, and equal rights between men and women”. In this sense, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is considered as “the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of value consensus”. This conclusion has been proved by many facts. First, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was a resolution voted for by the United Nations. 48 member states voted in favor of it, no member states voted against it, and 8 member states abstained from voting, including the Soviet Union, Poland, Saudi Arabia and South Africa. Two countries voted in absentia. Second, many provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights have become part of customary international law. For example, in 1966, the United Nations adopted the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which reiterated the majority of human rights enumerated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and gave specification and restriction. “Human rights have become the basic principle of modern international political exchanges and the common basis for mutual understanding and peaceful coexistence among countries with different political systems.”1 Third, most countries in the world have formally acceded to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
 
However, the value consensus of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights presents two forces pulling in two different directions: the power to maintain the value consensus and the power to split the value consensus. In the struggle, maintaining the value consensus gained the upper hand for a long time. For example, more and more countries have acceded to international human rights conventions, and the list of human rights in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights has been incorporated in more and more UN resolutions, treaties and conventions. But the forces that are trying to split the value consensus have been reluctant to calm down, for example, the “human rights diplomacy” of the Carter administration of the United States, as well as the phenomena of racial isolation, discrimination and massacre. After entering the 21st century, the ambition of splitting the value consensus has been thoroughly exposed. For example, the refugees in the wars of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria have con-tinuously emerged; the United States Department of State declared to withdraw from UNESCO on October 12, 2017, which took effect on December 31, 2018; in 2018 the United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the Permanent Representative of the United States to the United Nations Nikki Haley held a conference to express the “political bias” of the UN Human Rights Council and announced that the United States would withdraw from the UN Human Rights Council.
 
The ambition to split the value consensus was severely criticized after it was exposed. With regard to the withdrawal of the United States Government from the United Nations Human Rights Council, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights believes that the values enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are being attacked; China, the United Kingdom and other countries have expressed regret, while Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop feels “disappointed” and Russia considers the United States to be “brazen”. These criticisms reveal at least two problems: one is that the force of maintaining the value consensus is defending the value consensus of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; the other is that the force of splitting the value consensus seriously challenges the value consensus of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. At this moment, the two forces inherent in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights seem to be trying to fight a life-or-death struggle. The ambition to split the value consensus was not restrained by the severe criticism. It has become a fact that the United States continues to withdraw from the Human Rights Council of the United Nations. From the perspective of the power to safeguard the value consensus, although the United States was the leader in drafting and adopting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in the historical progress of the human rights, the United States gave up the role of leader to safeguard the value consensus by action and turned to its opposite of splitting the value consensus.
 
In fact, severe criticism only seems pale and powerless, we need to find resourc-es to bridge the forces of maintaining the value consensus with the forces of splitting value consensus. If we look for resources from outside, it may be counterproductive, because the embedding of external resources requires adaptation and integration. So the effective way is to find within the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which contains the seeds of maintaining value consensus and splitting value consensus. Now, the “seed of division” has sprouted and become the “reality of division”; correspondingly, the “seed of bridging” should begin to sprout and become a “power of bridging”. In the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, can Western liberal human rights concepts and resources become “bridging resources or forces”? Obviously, the answer is No. When the United States became a force for splitting the value consensus, it was destined that Western liberalism would force human rights off track. For this reason, we turn to Chinese philosophical thought, which is rarely mentioned in the historical process of the formation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights but gradually raised in recent academic discussions.
 
It is easy to ask the question: can Chinese philosophical thought really be a resource for bridging the division of value consensus? With the constant mention of “Asian values” and “Confucian civilization”, especially the continuous recognition of Confucian civilization as a result of cultural relativism and the continuous excavation of its inherent significance, there is sufficient reason to believe that Confucianism or Confucian ethics should bear more responsibility in the split value consensus, despite the fact that there is a conflict between the Chinese concept of human rights and the Western concept of human rights.2 Currently, the research on the relationship between human rights and Confucianism in the Chinese world mainly focuses on the collection of papers such as Confucian Tradition and Human Rights?Democratic Thoughts and Virtue and Rights - Confucianism and Human Rights in the Perspective of Interculture, which represent the two research perspectives of “Confucianism” and “Human Rights”. Although their conclusions are different, they have clearly demonstrated the role and significance of Confucianism or Confucian ethics in the progress of consensus on human rights values. However, these studies lack the analysis of the metaphysical nature of human rights—lack of reason, and the construction of the metaphysical nature of Confucian ethics—spirit. In the analysis of the relationship between human rights and Confucian ethics, we try to explore the hidden factors of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights—Confucian ethics, and make up for the shortcomings of the metaphysical nature of human rights — the lack of “ideal” with the “spirit” of Confucian ethics.
 
II.  Analysis Framework and Practice of Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Confucian Ethics
 
More and more scholars are trying to explore the contribution and significance of Confucianism or Confucian ethics to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, especially focusing on the contribution of Zhang Pengchun, one of the drafters of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In the discussion, the facts and logic point to there being a relationship between “Confucianism and human rights.” The results of the discussion on the relationship between Confucianism and human rights can be summarized into four main points. For a clearer analysis, we present it in a matrix graphic (see Figure 1).
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The first view, as shown in Figure 1 (1), holds that Confucianism and human rights are compatible if both are evaluated positively. On the one hand, Confucianism is no longer regarded as an obstacle to social thoughts, and scholars see more positive factors, such as “benevolence”, “etiquette” and the protection of rights in specific social relations. On the other hand, human rights are no longer criticized by non-Western societies. For example, Professor Li Cunshan believes that Confucianism’s people-oriented thought is compatible with “three generations of human rights”. In his view, in the process of the social transformation of modern China, after the people-oriented thought critically inherited the essence, intellectually accepted new ideas, abandoned its backward concept of hierarchical superiority and inferiority, and recognized that everyone was born free and equal and had inalienable civil and political rights, it not only conforms to the concept of “the first generation of human rights”, but more importantly, it can be consistent with the concept of “the second generation of human rights” and the further development of the concept of human rights.3 American scholar Sumner B. Twiss expressed similar views in the construction of Confucianism and human rights. He believed that “although the three generations of human rights concepts have different emphases, they can all be in harmony with Confucian morality and political thought.”4
 
The second view, as shown in Figure 1 (2), is that if the evaluation of Confucianism is negative and that of human rights is positive, Confucianism will be regarded as an obstacle to the development of human rights. This view is based on the fact that the role of Confucianism is regarded as negative. For example, Chen Duxiu wrote in his famous paper published in 1916 that “the core of Confucianism is feudal code of ethics”. He thought that the foundation of ethics is feudal hierarchy, which was incompatible with equality, democracy and human rights. In this period, the writer Lu Xun criticized the “feudal code of ethics” fiercely, such as “feudal code of ethics is cannibalism” in his Lunatic’s Diary. To this end, it is a luxury to expect the protection of human rights by ethics. In the 20th century, Chinese society overthrew the feudal hierarchy and abolished the cannibalistic feudal code of ethics, aiming at removing the obstacles hindering the development of human rights. In the view of the new youth of the May 4th Movement, China’s first task was to “import the foundation of a Western-style society and state, that is the so-called new belief on equal human rights. For Confucianism, which is incompatible with the new belief in this new society and country, we must have a thorough awareness and courageous determination or it will continue to harm.”5 Therefore, the result of fierce criticism of Confucianism is to pursue “Western-style” of human rights.
 
The third view, as shown in Figure 1 (3), is that if the evaluation of Confucianism is positive and the evaluation of human rights is negative, Confucianism may be an alternative to human rights, or Confucianism may provide resources to improve human rights. The negative evaluation of human rights is mainly manifested in the process of human rights realization, such as the human rights paradox, the harms of human rights and the attack on the value of human rights and so on. Some scholars try to find a new academic resource to alleviate this situation when human rights are under attack. For example, Professor Du Weiming said that industrialized East Asia “under the influence of Confucian culture originating in China,” “has developed into a less antagonistic, less individualistic, and less egoistic modern civilization”.6 Many scholars are in favor of transforming human rights with Confucian resources. The scholars Luo Siwen’s Why should we take rights seriously? The Criticism of Confucianism and An Lezhe’s Rites as Rights: A Confucian Substitution all expound the possibility of Confucianism as a human rights substitute from different perspectives.
 
The fourth view, as shown Figure 1 (4), is that if the evaluation of Confucianism is negative and that of human rights is also negative, Confucianism and human rights are certainly incompatible. In the current academic research, on the one hand, if the evaluation of Confucianism is derogatory, we can only see the negative side of Confucianism; on the other hand, if we only see the limitations of human rights in dealing with human rights, the combination of above two situations will surely lead to the conclusion that Confucianism and human rights are incompatible. However, in the views that Confucianism is incompatible with human rights, it is not entirely based on such a relationship. Some scholars believe that Confucianism is an ethical system about benevolence and relationships in harmonious society, in which the rights based on individualism and self-preservation have no place; some scholars believe that Confucianism advocates morality and the politics of authoritarianism, which must be rejected and replaced by a political philosophy of human rights and democracy.7 These two viewpoints, in our research framework, are considered as the obstacles of Confu-cianism to human rights. Our view is that obstruction and incompatibility cannot be equated.
 
The matrix outlines the analytical framework of “Confucianism and Human Rights”. At present, the analysis of the relationship between Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Confucian ethics “spirit” points to the third view that Confucianism may be an alternative to human rights, or that Confucianism may provide resources for human rights, so as to improve human rights. In the process of formulating the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, because of Zhang Pengchun and his integration of Confucian or Confucian ethical “spirit”, the third view was confirmed by the Confucian practice of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. First, it directly provides the Confucian concept of “conscience”. Historical records show that the phrase “giving reason” in the provisions of the declaration is Charles Malik’s contribution; the addition of “conscience” is considered to be a Western translation of the most important Confucian ethics and the contribution of the representative of China Zhang Pengchun, who participated in the drafting work. The two important concepts of “reason” and “conscience” in Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights represent the West and the East respectively. In terms of the order in the articles, “reason” is put before “conscience”. Obviously, the status between them is still dominated by “reason”, which indicates that the metaphysical nature of human rights advocated by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is “reason”. Therefore, after the infinite enlargement of “reason”, the weakness of it has also gradually emerged, burying “seeds of division” for the development of human rights in the world. It is also because of “conscience”, especially the Confucian ethical “spirit” it embodies, that it has become a potential “seed of bridging”.
 
Second, it has an important impact on the formation of the provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Zhang Pengchun’s contribution to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was not always made by using Chinese philosophy or Confucian ethics. In the formation of the relevant provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Zhang Pengchun’s role lies in his wisdom, his understanding of Western culture and his integration of Chinese and Western cultures. For example, Mr. Zhang’s opinions on Articles 2 and 7 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights concerning anti-discrimination and protection of equal rights, the proposition of Article 3, the revision of the wording of Article 7 on anti-discrimination, and the expression of Article 24 on the “right of leisure”, etc., have been endorsed by other members.8 These opinions are expressed in two aspects: one is Mr. Zhang’s under-standing of some problems with his own interpretation. For example, the first three articles are a unity of the three philosophical ideas of the 18th century: fraternity, equality and liberty. The second is to put forward the relevant Confucian ideas for discussion. For example, Mr. Zhang was a strong supporter of the provisions of social and economic rights. He often reminded Westerners that economic and social justice is not a modern concept, but an ancient Confucian concept with a history of 2,500 years. He translated “Datong society” recorded in the Book of Rites and shared it with his Western colleagues.9 Obviously, compared with the Western members who know little about Chinese philosophy or Confucian ethics, Mr. Zhang, as a practitioner of the integration of Chinese and Western cultures, provided a revised resource for the historical progress of human rights in the world and has urged them to constantly re-vise the direction of the development of human rights in the world.
 
III. Possible Factors for Global Divisions of the Value Consensus of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
 
The above explanations show that Confucian ethics have been recognized as an important resource of for the value consensus in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the process of human rights development in the world. The Confucian practice of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights demonstrates the third view in the matrix graphic of Figure 1. The logical premise is that human rights based on Western liberalism have some defects or deficiencies, and Confucian ethics can just become a resource to remedy these defects or deficiencies. Therefore, it is necessary to further analyze the possible factors of global division existing in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights — the “seeds of division”, which are gradually sprouting. “Although the sprout is not the tree itself, it contains a tree, and contains all the strength of the tree”.10 The “seeds of division” were planted by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and have sprouted constantly in the course of world history, making the division in global value consensus a reality, which are the so-called defects or deficiencies of human rights. At the same time, these defects and deficiencies also bring many problems to the development of human rights in the world.
 
The factors that may enable the forces to successfully split the value consensus of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are: First, Eleanor Roosevelt, Charles Malik, Zhang Pengchun, John Humphrey Noyes, Rene Cassin are considered to be the founders of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, among which, Eleanor Roosevelt supported the American concept of rights, and Charles Malik was a Christian who hoped that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights would be based on his belief in God; Zhang Pengchun tried to add Chinese philosophy to the Universal Dec-laration of Human Rights so that people could accept different civilizations or cultural concepts. For this reason, there were two possible paths for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: one is that it is the result of the mix of different cultures, which may be more accepted by different systems and cultures. This was later proved when the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Second, it is the product of different civilizations. Because of the diversity of civilizations, it may be over-emphasized or underestimated by some civilizations in the progress of world history, and eventually lead to division. This point has gradually been proved by world history.
 
Second, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted with the fact that no Member State voted against it, but some members abstained. The attitude of these member states towards human rights is uncertain, and the possible problems will appear due to some unfavorable factors, which will lead to division. After the emergence of “Asian Values”, some scholars pointed out that the economic and technological background of the formulation and adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, that is, the fact that the Western capitalist economy accounts for more than half of the world economy, has changed, and the world needs a new value consensus. This has been serious challenges to the value consensus reached by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Further analysis found that the eight countries abstained from voting are socialist countries. This shows that the strength of the capitalist camp was superior to that of the socialist camp at that time. It also shows that there were differences in the human rights concepts between the two camps at that time. With the development of the world economy and politics, especially the stalemate between the East and the West, civil and political rights, economic, social and cultural rights have been divided into two conventions and were drafted separately. The Eisenhower Administration in United States announced that it would no longer participate in the drafting of the conventions and would not sign any binding United Nations conventions. Later, the United States did not join the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. These actions of the United States had a profound impact on human rights development worldwide.
 
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is nurturing the “seeds of consensus” and also planting the “seeds of division”, and the “seed of division” is gradually becoming reality and a force that hinders the development of human rights in the world. So what are the factors that lead to the reality? Its root lies in the “reason” weaknesses in the metaphysical nature of human rights and the “clash of civilizations”.
 
From the perspective of Western liberalism, human rights and reason are inseparable. Reason is the metaphysical basis or essence of human rights. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was born under western liberalism. “Although a popular view holds that human rights are only the product of the special view of human rights and hypothesis moral reason in the West, the fact that cannot be ignored is that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was formally adopted by representatives of different countries and cultures in 1948.”11 This view has been refuted by many scholars, Douzina said: “Today, most of the contemporary states have abandoned the previous opinions on human rights. The ontological presupposition of human rights, the principle of freedom and equality for all and its political inference, political power must comply with the requirements of reason and law has become their main ideology.” It seems metaphysical nature of human rights is clearly expressed — “reason” has been universally recognized. However, Douzinais not very optimistic about the consensus and the “victory” of human rights in the world. He believes that “the victory of human rights is more or less a paradox” and that human rights are “the only paradox left” and that the emergence of human rights comes from the unsolved nature of the mystery.12 If this is the case, “human rights can only provide paradoxes”.13 So, what is its root? Obviously, this situation can be attributed to the weakness of “reason”.
 
“Reason” can be divided into instrumental reason and practical reason. Instrumental reason is to confirm the usefulness of tools (means) by practice, so as to pursue the greatest effectiveness and serve to achieve some kind of human gains. Instrumental reason achieves the goals most effectively by accurate calculation. It is a kind of value that takes tool worship and technology as the survival goal. So “instrumental reason” is also called “functional reason” or “efficiency reason”. Practical reason is that people use reason to decide how to act in a particular situation. There are profound contradictions in reason itself. On the issue of human rights, it has been confused by these two “rationalities”. There is a tension between the validity of instrumental reason and the legitimacy of practical reason, which leads to the paradox of rights or human rights, that is, “the more rights I have, the less protection I get for harm; the more rights I have, the greater my desire for even more rights, but the less happiness they give me. The paradox of ideological triumph of human rights coincides with the perception of experience, that is, our times have witnessed the greatest harm to human rights.14 Obviously, in the western mainstream ideology, human rights are individual rights. According to Hegel, ethics and spirit are identical. He holds that there are always only two kinds of viewpoints in ethics: one is to start from entity, the other is to discuss atomically, that is, to gradually improve on the basis of a single person. The latter view is not spiritual.15 In Hegel’s view, families, nations and states are ethical entities and realistic spirits. According to this logic, exploring human rights from an individual perspective will result in the loss of “spirit” and the only thing left behind is “paradox”.
 
Similarly, how can we transcend the “paradox of human rights” in terms of the metaphysical nature of human rights? The answer here is very obvious, that is, to take the spirit as the metaphysical possibility of human rights. So, what kind of spirit can be the basis? If we go back to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, its hidden Confucian ethical spirit is exactly what we need to pursue and what we need to advocate. The world history of human rights shows the possibility of interpretation with this theory, and whether it can become a reality will also be depend on many factors. The world has been flooded with too many conflicts. The greatest conflict, which is also a global conflict, has far-reaching impact on what Huntington called “the clash of civilizations”, which is also the “seed of division”.
 
“The clash of civilizations” is the end of history.16 The global debate over academic themes that have arisen after the “end” is also a global fact. After the end of the Cold War, Huntington believed that “cultural and cultural identity (which is civilized identity in the broadest sense) formed a pattern of integration, division and conflict model in the Post-Cold War world”.17 This is the so-called “the clash of civilizations”. Huntington expressed different responses to Westernization and Modernization by means of graphic method. He believed that “Westernization and Modernization were closely linked originally. Non-Western societies absorbed quite a lot of factors from Western culture and made slow progress towards modernization. However, as the pace of modernization accelerates, the rate of Westernization decreases and the local culture revives. Therefore, further modernization has changed the cultural balance between Western and non-Western societies, and strengthened the belief in local culture.18 On the issue of human rights, the rise of cultural relativism represented by “Asian values” demonstrates this view. “With the weakening of Western power, the ability of the West to impose its concepts of human rights, liberalism and democracy on other civilizations has diminished, and the attractiveness of those values to other civilizations has also diminished.”19 In Huntington’s exposition, he was very keen to capture the chang-es to the world order in the West after the Cold War. As a result, “almost all non-Western civilizations have resisted Western pressures, including Hinduism, Orthodox Church and African countries, and to some extent even Latin American countries”. Moreover, “Islam and Asia are the strongest resisters to Western democratization. This resistance is rooted in a broader movement to expand their own cultures, which manifested in the Islamic Renaissance Movement and Asian self-affirmation.” This situation makes US self-confidence — “it will not take long for Western human rights concepts and political democracy to prevail globally” to be seriously challenged. Obviously, the Western Empire of Human Rights has gradually declined. “Every civilization regards itself as the center of the world and writes its own history as the main dramatic scene of human history.” So the clash of civilizations is inevitable.
 
The logic of “the clash of civilizations” lies in the premise of diversity and multi-centeredness of civilizations. However, the confrontation and division that ensued with the conflicts put forward with the question: Is there a future for human rights? If the consensus of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is entirely Western, the resistance around the world will be more intense than ever. In fact, in the process of formation of consensus and development, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was created by the clash and exchange of different civilizations, systems and cultures. It not only is “the result of consensus”, but also plants “the seed of division”, which contains “the seed of bridging” — Confucian ethics. This kind of “seed” played an important role in the formation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but at that time it was only as a potential or insignificant resource, submerged by two powerful forces. At this time, it is precisely this potential “seed” that gradually sprouted and become a force.
 
IV. The Orientation of Maintaining the Value Consensus of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: Defending the “Spirit” of Confucian Ethics
 
There is no doubt that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights reveals a global value consensus and that “human rights finally won in 1989”20 and it has become the “universal medium of the new world order”. But this is only the weapon of the “aggressive empire”. The problem that cannot be ignored is that “the victory of the United States over other communist adversaries has made human rights, the Western ideology, the creed of the new world order”.21 This sudden change took place when the United States withdrew from the Human Rights Council of the United Nations and its ambition to split the power of the value consensus of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was unveiled. What should the world do at this time? The force of maintaining the value consensus of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is also trying to find a kind of resources that can bridge the division and all point to the Confucian ethical “spirit” in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
 
China’s economy, science and technology, and international political influence are continuously increasing. In 2010, China became the second-largest economy in the world. In 2012, General Secretary Xi Jinping put forward and explained the “Chinese Dream of Great Rejuvenation of the Chinese Nation”; in 2014, General Secretary Xi Jinping proposed to “enhance cultural self-confidence and value self-confidence” in the 13th collective study of the Central Political Bureau, and held that “cultural self-confidence is the most lasting and deepest strength”; in 2017, the State put forward the Guiding Idea of the Inheritance and Development of Chinese Excellent Traditional Culture. From this we can see that China constantly affirms itself with cultural self-confidence and is actively seeking to integrate into the world order. China should make a positive contribution to the development of human rights in the world, that is, to hold the third view in the matrix figure of “Confucianism and Human Rights”. The history of the formation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights shows that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights not only planted “the seeds of division”, but also provided resources that can bridge the division. The problem now is that the divisive forces are strong, and the bridging resources seem to be somewhat inadequate. If we hope that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights will continue to be a uni-versal value consensus, we should, in the future development of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights safeguard the “spirit” of Confucian ethics. To achieve this, we will need to go through the following two steps.
 
First, the dialectical movement from “reason” to “spirit”. Fan Hao, a scholar in the field of moral philosophy, has criticized the long-standing view that ethics and morality are “practical reason”, which he thinks is a misunderstanding of the nature of ethics and morality.22 He has put forward the viewpoint that the metaphysical nature of morality should be interpreted as “spirit”, and considers that “spirit” has more theoretical reason than “practical reason” compared with morality and ethics; and that “spirit” is more in line with the tradition of Chinese moral philosophy and a concept with more national characteristics than “practical reason”.23 We also agree that the metaphysical nature of ethics and morality should be interpreted as spirit. Undoubtedly, if we take this as the theoretical basis, it will be more reasonable to interpret the metaphysical nature of Confucian ethics with spirit. When discussing the metaphysical nature of Confucian ethical law, it interprets Confucian ethical law with spirit.24 Therefore, the metaphysical nature of Confucian ethics and Confucian ethical law should be interpreted as “spirit”. The human rights advocated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights have been emphasized indefinitely due to the nature of “reason” in the progress of world history, and the consequent weaknesses of “reason” have been constantly presented, which ultimately leads to the conclusion that “human rights can only be provided by paradoxes”. When we interpret the metaphysical nature of human rights with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, if we can realize the dialectical movement from “reason” to “spirit”, we can solve many problems in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, there exists the possibility of a dialectical movement from “reason” to “spirit”, which is the Confucian ethics embodied in “conscience” in Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Now in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, “reason” and “conscience” are put together, and one after another, provides a metaphysical basis for the dialectical movement in the history of international human rights.
 
If the metaphysical nature of human rights is interpreted as “spirit”, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights can be interpreted reasonably. First, we should rationally explain the development of human rights. At present, the development of human rights has gone far beyond the framework of individual rights. Economic, social and cultural rights and the right to development are increasingly accepted by most countries, although Western countries ignore and resist the collective rights advocated by non-Western countries. The root of this phenomenon is that we have always interpreted the metaphysical nature of human rights as “reason” rather than “spirit”. When “reason” transcends “spirit”, the most serious consequence is the confusion of theory, especially the ambiguity of the concept of human rights. Spirit is always holistic, and reason is always individual. This can explain the history of the development of human rights in the world, which includes both individual rights and collective rights. Otherwise, if we simply emphasize reason, the inevitable result is to exclude collective rights and excessively advocate individual rights. Second is putting more emphasis on the realization of human rights. The weaknesses of reason result from, “human rights can only be provided by paradox” or human rights are only “Utopia”. In the Confucian ethical tradition, more emphasis is placed on the realization of their rights in specific ethical relations. For example, one of the reasons why scholars advocate the importance of the theory and practice of Confucian human rights methods is that the real relationship between our daily life and the moral community is the basis of rights.25 Therefore, in the Confucian ethical tradition, and from the perspective of the spirit, it pays attention to the realization of rights, not only to people’s rights, but also to whether such rights bring happiness, thus eliminating the paradox of human rights.
 
Second, from value consensus to joint action. The current problem with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is that the fragmentation of action leads to conscious challenges. In the era of rationalism, there is a lack of spiritual connection between individuals and societies. At present, no one seems to doubt that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights has reached a consensus on human rights worldwide. From the perspective of spirit, in order to bridge the global division of the consensus on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as a value consensus, the consensus on human rights should construct “spirit” in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and further enrich the “spirit” in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. At present, two issues are critical: one is the return of the universality of human rights proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the other is the joint action to defend the Universal Declaration of Human Rights worldwide. At present, the most important difference of the human rights concepts in the world is no longer the difference of understanding and idea, but the difference between action and reality. The key to bridge the global division and human rights conflict of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is no longer to form a value consensus, but to act together. The key is not to see what the country is saying, but more importantly to see what the country is doing, whether it is promoting human rights or leading to human rights violations. By this measure, Huntington’s “the clash of civilizations” will also be resolved. Western countries are also criticized when they use human rights as a tool to infringe the human rights of other countries. Such criticism is strong. Only when individuals, societies, countries and the international community are committed to human rights actions, rather than merely focusing on the value consensus, can human rights get rid of the “paradox” and develop the cause of human rights.
 
V. Conclusion
 
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is closely related to the Confucian ethical spirit. The Confucian ethical spirit is the potential “seed of bridging” and gradually “sprouting” becoming a force to safeguard the value consensus of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights against the threat of global division. Even so, the metaphysical basis of human rights in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is still “reason”, and the role and significance of Confucian ethics “spirit” in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are complementary. It is precisely because of this kind of complement that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights will be more complete in world history and become a worldwide and sustainable value consensus.
 
* HUANG Aijiao ( 黄爱教 ), associate professor in School of Marxism in Tianjin Polytechnic University, Doctor of Philosophy, Post-doctor of Politics.
 
1. Chang Jian. Ideals, Paradoxes and Realities of Human Rights (Chengdu: Sichuan People’s Publishing House, 1992), 28.
 
2. Zhou Qi, “Conf1icts over Human Rights between China and the US”, 27 Human Rights Quarterly 1 (2005): 105-124.
 
3. Chen Qizhi and Zhang Shuhua, Confucian Tradition and Human Rights ? Democratic Thoughts (Jinan: Qilu Book Society, 2004), 93.
 
4. Sumner. B. Twiss, “Confucianism and Human Rights: A Constructive Framework,” Jianghan Forum 6 (2014).
 
5. Chen Duxiu. “Constitution and Confucianism,” in Duxiu Wencun (Beijing: Foreign Language Publishing House, 2013), 79.
 
6. LiangTao, Virtue and Rights - Confucianism and Human Rights in the Perspective of Interculture (Beijing: China Social Science Press, 2016), 8.
 
7. Chen Zuwei, “Confucianism and Human Rights,” Academic Monthly Magazine 11 (2013).
 
8. Gudmundur Alfredsson and Asborn Eide, The Universal Declaration of Human Rights: Common Standards to Achieve, trans. the Chinese Society for Human Rights Studies (Chengdu: Sichuan People’s Publishing House, 1999).
 
9. Huang Jianwu, “From the Perspective of Zhang Pengchun’s Contribution to the Formation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on Confucian Tradition and Modern Human Rights Construction,” Journal of Sun Yatsen University (Social Sciences Edition) 6 (2012).
 
10. Hegel, “Elements of the Philosophy of Right,” trans. Fan Yang and Zhang Qitai (Beijing: Commercial Press, 1961), 1.
 
11. Sumner. B. Twiss, “Confucianism and Human Rights: A Constructive Framework,” Jianghan Forum 6 (2014).
 
12. Costas Douzinas, The End of Human Rights, trans. Guo Chunfa (Nanjing: Jiangsu People’s Publishing House, 2002), 19.
 
13. Costas Douzinas, Human Rights and Empire-the Political Philosophy of Cosmopolitanism, trans. Xin hengfu, Phoenix Publishing Media Group (Nanjing: Jiangsu People’s Publishing House, 2010), 9.
 
14. Costas Douzinas, The End of Human Rights, 57.
 
15. Hegel, Elements of the Philosophy of Right, 173.
 
16. In the summer of 1989, Fukuyama published the article The End of History in the magazine National Interest. The article holds that the liberal democracy system practiced by western countries may be the “end of human ideology” and “the last form of human domination”, thus constituting the “end of history”.
 
17. Samuel Phillips Huntington. The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order (Revised Edition), trans. Zhou Qi (Beijing: Xinhua Publishing House, 2010), 4.
 
18. Ibid., 54.
 
19. Ibid., 73.
 
20. Costas Douzinas, The End of Human Rights, 35.
 
21. Ibid.
 
22. Fan Hao. China Ethics Report (Beijing: China Social Science Press, 2010), 41.
 
23. Fan Hao, The Spiritual Philosophical Basis of Moral Metaphysics (Beijing: China Social Science Press, 2006), 12.
 
24. Huang Aijiao, “Metaphysical Nature of Confucian Ethics: Reason or Spirit,” Ningxia Social Sciences 1 (2018).
 
25. May Sim, “A Confucian Approach to Human Rights”, 21 History of Philosophy Quarterly 4 (2004): 337-356.
 
(Translated by LI Man)
 
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