Can Ritual Be Modern? Liquid Modernity, Social Acceleration and Li-Inspired Ritual

European Journal for Philosophy of Religion 13 (2):65-89 (2021)
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Our late modernity has been characterized by Zygmunt Bauman and Hartmut Rosa as, respectively, “liquid” and “accelerated”. These are demanding aspects of reality that have elicited both adaptive and resisting responses. While the drive to adapt has generally been favoured, especially by the corporate sector, a certain resistance to the tendency is also notable among ordinary citizens. It will be argued in this paper, first, that while adaptation evokes Daoist insights, such an association is misleading and an unqualified kind of adaptation is not a viable option; secondly, while many ritualistic and ceremonial practices are being revived as a part of the resistance, many of these are undesirable; thirdly, that an introduction of ritual inspired by the ancient Confucian understanding of li 禮 is a beneficial way to alleviate the harmful effects of late modernity; and fourthly, that this understanding of li can be strengthened and clarified through Neo-Daoist interpretations.


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