Date of Award


Document Type



Santa Clara : Santa Clara University, 2018.

Degree Name

Licentiate in Sacred Theology (STL)


Anh Tran, SJ


In contemporary China the education at universities focuses mainly on the acquisition of skills and knowledge and rarely includes the formation of character and virtues. This neglect of virtue education has been related to ethical tensions in the Chinese economy and reforms have been initiated to re-introduce ethics into professional education. Jesuit education has traditionally integrated both, humanistic as well as professional education. Confucian learning and Jesuit humanistic education also share commonalities as far as virtue formation, textual approach and preparation for participation in society for the augmentation of the common good are concerned. This thesis shows that Jesuit education can help recover Confucian learning and can help addressing the need for an inculturated Chinese approach to virtue education.

Such interaction has a long history dating back to the encounter of the literati of the Ming dynasty with Matteo Ricci. In the twentieth century, this interaction has continued to contribute to the modernization of China through Western educational institutions in China. Currently, Chinese scholars research Christian ethics and continue this long standing interaction. This thesis shows that based on methods of inter-religious dialogue and the expression of Ignatian spirituality through Jesuit education there is a mutually enriching encounter of Jesuit humanistic education with Confucian learning that can contribute to this current research of Chinese scholars for Chinese character education. Further, this thesis shows that this encounter does not only help recovering Confucian learning for Chinese educational purposes but that it also gives the opportunity for an expansion of Ignatian spirituality: In recognizing Confucian spirituality's long tradition of pragmatism and Ignatian spirituality's emphasis on the transcendent, the suggested mutually enriching encounter of both traditions opens for Confucianism the dimension of the transcendent. For Ignatian spirituality it is Confucian pragmatism that helps better recognizing the transcendent through an immersion into the concrete and the pragmatic. In short, this thesis illustrates how on the one hand Jesuit education can help recovering ethics through Confucian learning in contemporary China. On the other hand this thesis also shows how this encounter fosters the grounding of Ignatian spirituality in the concrete and the pragmatic through Confucian spirituality.

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