Reconstructing natural theology with the aid of Confucian axiology and American Pragmatism
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The current project attempts to construct a modest version of natural theology with the aid of Confucian axiology and American Pragmatism. Its main thrust is to map out several levels of integrative valuation moving from nature and society into the innermost part of the human core. It envisions a Confucian axiological cosmos where values are scattered ubiquitously in the universe and its myriad presences. The pragmatic theories of Charles S. Peirce and William James are employed to construct methodological mechanisms by which natural values are to be recognized, semioticized, transferred and integrated into the human equilibrium as valutional core. Nature, society and the human valutional core are envisioned as three major value hubs that are intricately intertwined and mutually reciprocal. The levels of integrative valuation consist of a series of evaluative steps spread along the history of Confucianism. Beginning with an objective observation of Investigation of Things, it reaches the semiotic stage of Rectifying the Name, which followed by physical participation in the Unity of Knowledge and Action, and eventually arrives at the grand stage of Ritual Appropriateness. The Protestant churches with Chinese cultural background are considered as the communal basis of this project. The rival coexistence of both naturalistic and anti-naturalistic tendencies makes them an apt sample for this axiological project of reconfiguring a natural theology. If accomplished successfully, this project will establish an axiological type of natural theology by means of integrating resources from Confucianism, American Pragmatism and Christian Theology. It will demonstrate a way of engaging nature alternative to those of logical positivist, materialistic or even ecological approaches. This project may help conservative Protestant Christians redress their obsession concerning special, direct, salvific grace by redirecting them towards natural values that are profoundly rich and nourishing by reconciling the cultural and religious dimensions of their lives.