Religious worldviews in China are characterized by an emphasis on orthopraxis rather than orthodoxy and thus the discrete lifeworlds (recall the distinction between 'lifeworlds' and 'worldviews' in our previous post) of individuals in China may contain elements from all three principal traditions as well as from folk and lesser-known religious and medical (sub-)traditions. I might live my life, say, by Confucian norms of social etiquette, learning, and filial piety; Daoist cosmological or metaphysical principles and processes; while believing in Buddhist doctrines of karma and rebirth. In other words, these worldviews don't ask of their adherents exclusivist loyalty and identification, despite the occasional historical clashes and tensions between followers of various schools and traditions, particularly when it came to seeking the favor of those in power. It may therefore be the case that one is at the same time a Confucian, Daoist and Buddhist! Is it any wonder that those thoroughly socialized into Judeo-Christian traditions have had a difficult time accurately and fairly portraying or understanding these Asian worldviews?
Novice and seasoned researcher alike will benefit from a handful of Internet sites that specialize in Chinese religions and philosophies. Prior to looking at these however, I would implore anyone with an abiding interest in the issues that arise from the comparative study of Chinese worldviews to read the entry, "Comparative Philosophy: Chinese and Western," by David Wong from the online Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. On Chinese philosophy in general, there is probably no better site than Manyul Im's Chinese Philosophy Blog (with links to other sites devoted to Chinese philosophy). Some of the best known scholars in Chinese philosophy blog and comment there. Joseph Adler, who was just ahead of me in graduate school many years ago in the Department of Religious Studies at UC Santa Barbara, is a well-respected professor in the field with a webpage that is a remarkable resource for exploring virtually anything you want to know about China, but especially for further investigation of its religious and philosophical traditions. Professor Paul Gordin has a website devoted to bibliographies and other research tools that puts my bibliographies to shame. In particular, his list for Ancient Chinese Civilization contains some 4,700 entries and is close to 500 pages long. And it's even kept up-to-date! That should keep most of you well occupied and out of trouble for some time. Enjoy!