Confucianism and critical rationalism: Friends or foes?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


According to Karl Popper’s critical rationalism, criticism is the only way we have of systematically detecting and learning from our mistakes so as to get nearer to the truth. Meanwhile, it is arguable that the emphasis of Confucianism on creating a hierarchical and harmonious society can easily lead to submission rather than opposition, producing a conformist rather than critical mind. A question arises here as to whether Confucianism tends to denigrate criticism and thus run counter to critical rationalism. In this paper, I first argue that Confucianism prizes criticism and critical discussion, for which ample justification can be found in Confucian classics. Then I compare Confucianism with critical rationalism and assess the compatibility between them. Copyright © 2016 Philosophy of Education Society of Australasia.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1136-1145
JournalEducational Philosophy and Theory
Issue number12
Early online dateSept 2016
Publication statusPublished - 2017


Lam, C.-M. (2017). Confucianism and critical rationalism: Friends or foes? Educational Philosophy and Theory, 49(12), 1136-1145.


  • Confucianism
  • Critical rationalism
  • Confucian criticism
  • Karl Popper


Dive into the research topics of 'Confucianism and critical rationalism: Friends or foes?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.