This book is a perfect example of the kind of scholarly rigor that all histories of discourse should aspire to and serves as a powerful contribution to the interdisciplinary study of Confucianism, feminism, and the democratization of China.
Yuan's efforts advance the broader project of highlighting valuable and effective concepts and attitudes within Confucianism that can support feminist social goals. Ren appears to be a good candidate for inclusion in a care ethics framework. Situating ren in the relational ontology of heaven, earth, and humanity, and in the reciprocal ethics of zhong and shu, this book shows where Confucianism can speak the language of feminism, equality, and democracy. It also takes a critical stance in identifying the Confucian concepts and attitudes that stand in the way of gender equality, especially the traditional support of power hierarchies for the sake of social stability. Clearing Confucian theory of this kind of rigid stratification may make it much more applicable to the contemporary egalitarian milieu. This paves the way for actual policies--such as state-sponsored home medical care for elderly women in rural China--that recognize the existential need in every human life to be cared for at times. Yuan's vision of this is an egalitarian ren politics of reciprocal caring with each other, which is a contemporary moral ideal rooted in the deep wisdom of traditional values.
Lijun Yuan has presented a renovating, robust study of Confucian and feminist care ethics, and creatively engage in a profound dialogue between Eastern and Western philosophies. This is as grounded and deep account of care ethics as one who does comparative studies wishes for. It also raises the profound questions of the foundation of ethics. The suggestion of a fusion of the Confucian and feminist horizons of the book is thought-provocative, and attractive.