Relationality and rationality in Confucian and Western traditions of thought

Qin, Yaqing and Nordin, Astrid (2019) Relationality and rationality in Confucian and Western traditions of thought. Cambridge Review of International Affairs, 32 (5). pp. 601-614. ISSN 0955-7571

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This paper provides a theoretical sketch of relationality within the field of International Relations (IR). It argues, contrary to what many IR scholars hold, that representation is practice: academic representation reflects the background of a community of practice and highlights what is embodied therein. Therefore, different cultural communities have different practices and draw from different background knowledge. Rationality, which serves as the dominant foundation for background knowledge within many Western communities of practice, permeates mainstream IR theory. Relationality performs a similar role in traditionally Confucian communities of practice, where relations enjoy a distinct ontological status over individual rationality. A relational theory assumes (1) that self-existence coincides with other-existence and coexistence, and (2) that self-interest coincides with other-interest. Based on these assumptions, it argues that relations select, meaning that in a social situation actors base their action on relations in the first place and that rationality is and can only be defined in terms of relations. The article uses the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) as an example to elaborate its theoretical point.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Cambridge Review of International Affairs
Additional Information:
This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Cambridge Review of International Affairs on 30/07/2019, available online:
Uncontrolled Keywords:
?? political science and international relations ??
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Deposited On:
30 Aug 2019 10:50
Last Modified:
27 Jun 2024 00:21