The Rectification of (Modern) Names: Jürgen Habermas Meets Confucius—Fixing Our Broken Political Discourse


This paper explores four concepts to point a way out of the political morass in which we find ourselves at the middle of the second decade of the 21st century: 1) The “rectification of names”, a concept of Confucius that should have the highest priority in such a situation as now prevails in the United States; 2) Carl Schmitt’s concept of “the political”; 3) A new reading of James Madison’s Federalist Paper No. 51 that envisions “creating a will in the community independent of the majority, that is of society itself”; 4) And Jürgen Habermas’s “communicative action theory”, which would serve to engender genuinely democratic discourse in our political system, combined with a critique by former US Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens of corporate influence in our politics, which together represent a significant step toward finally achieving the Confucian ideal. Finally, this paper offers a mechanism and an institution for realizing the goal that the new Madison reading suggests, something that is consistent with the best values of our nation most grandly conceived, and a social media method—afforded by movements such as the Arab Spring and the Occupy Wall Street Movement—for triggering that mechanism and resulting institution, one that is analogous to the Han dynasty’s development of the Shuo Wen Dictionary, and one that would function in a way similar to that envisioned by Han dynasty thinkers.

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Old, J. and Ferrell, R. (2015) The Rectification of (Modern) Names: Jürgen Habermas Meets Confucius—Fixing Our Broken Political Discourse. Open Journal of Philosophy, 5, 104-116. doi: 10.4236/ojpp.2015.51012.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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