Open Access Peer-reviewed Research Article

Good and God: The Enlightenment Projects in Europe and China

Main Article Content

Keekok Lee corresponding author


This paper will explore the following themes: (1) To argue that the concepts of Good and God belong to distinctly different discourses – the former to ethics or moral philosophy, the latter to religion; (2) There is no necessary logical link between Good and God; (3) Far from God logically preceding Good, it is Good which logically precedes God and guarantees its existence as a supernatural entity; (4) From above it follows that a society can be moral and not subscribe to a religion which postulates the existence of God as a supernatural entity; (5) Chinese history, its culture and its civilisation which have lasted and continues to endure for at least two and a half thousand years constitutes a refutation of the thesis that there can be no morality without religion and that a society resting solely on Good and not God could survive; (6) European Enlightenment which occurred in the 18th century is about dispensing with God and religion, ushering in secularism and humanism as an alternative philosophical foundation for society; (7) The Chinese has been secular and humanistic since the Spring and Autumn period when Kongzi and other philosophers lived and taught. This means that the Chinese Enlightenment Project has occurred, more than two thousand years before the European Enlightenment Project; (8) Furthermore, there is compelling circumstantial evidence that the Chinese Project could have played a role in the emergence of the European Project via the Jesuit route of knowledge transmission from the East to the West.

Good, God, supernatural entity, religions (Abrahamic), morality, Chinese culture and civilisation, Chinese Enlightenment Project, European Enlightenment Project, secularism and humanism, Jesuits

Article Details

How to Cite
Lee, K. (2022). Good and God: The Enlightenment Projects in Europe and China. International Journal of Arts and Humanities, 3(1), 78-92.


  1. Zuckerman, P. (2020). 2nd Edition (1st Edition 2008). Society without God: What the Least Religious Nations Can Tell Us about Contentment. New York:New York University Press.
  2. Pew Research Center. (2014). Pew Research Global Attitudes Project. Chapter 3. Views of Religion and Morality.
  3. Pew Research Center. (2020). The Global God Divide.
  4. Perkins, R. (1981). Ed. Kierkegaard’s ‘Fear and trembling’: critical appraisals. Alabama: University of Alabama Press.
  5. Statista. (2018). Perceived and actual percentage of Muslim population in China as of 2018.
  6. Chan, A. (2018). Laozi. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.).
  7. Lee, K. (2017). The Philosophical Foundations of Classical Chinese Medicine: Philosophy, Method- ology, Science. Lanham: Lexington Press.
  8. Robinet, I. (1997). Taoism: Growth of a Religion. Trans. P. Brooks. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
  9. Robinet, I. (2008). Daojia. Ed. F. Pregadio, Encyclopedia of Taoism. London: Routledge.
  10. Smith, K. (2003). Sima Tan and the Invention of Daoism, ‘Legalism’ et cetera. Journal of Asian Studies, 62(1), 129-156.
  11. Dunbar, R. (2022). How Religion Evolved and Why It Endured. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  12. Harvey, Van A. (1995). Feuerbach and the Interpretation of Religion. Cambridge/New York: Cambridge University Press.
  13. Stewart, R. (2020). Feuerbach’s Theology or Philosophy of Religion as Anthropology. Ed. Peter Sajda, Modern and Postmodern Crises of Symbolic Structures: Essays in Philosophical Anthropology. Publishers:
  14. Wilson, P. (2009). Europe’s Tragedy: A History of the Thirty Years War. London: Allen Lane/Penguin.
  15. Mignolo, W. (2011). ‘The Darker Side of the Enlightenment: A De-Colonial Reading of Kant’s Geography’ in Elden, S. and Mendieta, E. (eds) Reading Kant’s Geography. Albany: State University of New York Press.
  16. Mignolo, W. (2021). ‘Colonial and Imperial Differences: A Hindrance to Inter-National Cultural Cooperations’. Keynote Presentation to the ICRRA Conference 2021: Cooperation in a Fragmented World. Available at: (333) Walter Mignolo, ICRRA Conference 2021: Cooperation in a Fragmented World - YouTube. (Accessed: 20 March 2022).
  17. Van Norden, Bryan. (2017). Taking Back Philosophy: A Multicultural Manifesto. New York: Columbia University Press.
  18. Van Norden, B. (2007). Virtue Ethics and Consequentialism in Early Chinese Philosophy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  19. Koh, T., & Lee, K. (Forthcoming). Decolonial Explorations: China and the Chinese World. Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press.
  20. Schönfeld, M. (2006a). From Confucius to Kant – The Question of Information Transfer. Journal of Chinese Philosophy, 33(1), 67-81.
  21. Standaert, N. (2002). Jesuits in China. Ed. T. Worcester, Cambridge Companion to the Jesuits. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  22. Powers, M. (2018). China and England: The Preindustrial Struggle for Justice in Word and Image. Abingdon: Routledge.
  23. Kant, I. (1784). An Answer to the Question: What is the Enlightenment?
  24. Lee, K. (2021). Modern Western and Ancient Chinese Philosophy: A Case Study of Intercultural Philosophy.
  25. Fuchs, T. (2006). The European China-Receptions from Leibniz to Kant (Translated by Martin Scho¨nfeld). Journal of Chinese Philosophy, 33(1), 35-49.
  26. Edwards, J., & Schönfeld, M. (2006). Kant’s Material Dynamics and the Field View of Physical Reality. Journal of Chinese Philosophy, 33(1), 109-123.
  27. McKay, R., & Whitehouse H. (2014). Religion and Morality. Psychological Bulletin, 141(2), 447-473.
  28. Van Norden, Bryan. (2021). With Anita L. Allen, Charles W. Mill in a Discussion: Western Philosophy and Racism, organised by Oxford PPE Society.
  29. Camus, Y. (2007). Jesuits’ Journeys in Chinese Studies. World Conference on Sinology 2007.
  30. Schönfeld, M. (2007). Kant’s Early Dynamics. Ed. Bird G., Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
  31. Bird, G. (2006). A Companion to Kant. Oxford: Blackwell.
  32. Harrison, G. (2015). Morality requires a god, whether you’re religious or not. The Conversation.
  33. Gu, M. (2013). Sinologism: An Alternative to Orientialism and Postcolonialism. London and New York: Routledge.
  34. Schönfeld, M. (2000). The Philosophy of the Young Kant: The Precritical Project. New York: Oxford University Press.
  35. Schönfeld, M. (2005). Christian Wolff. Ed. D. Borchett, Encyclopedia of Philosophy. New York: Macmillan.
  36. Schönfeld, M. (2006a). From Confucius To Kant—The Question of Information Transfer. Journal of Chinese Philosophy, 33(1), 67-81.
  37. Schönfeld, M. (2007). Kant’s Early Cosmology. Ed. Bird G., Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
  38. Schönfeld, M. (2006d). Georg Bernhard Bilfinger. Eds. M. Kuhn, & H. Klemme, Dictionary of Eighteenth Century German Philosophers. London: Thoemmes.
  39. Schönfeld, M. (2019). Kant’s Philosophical Development. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2019 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.).