Only three aspects of the broad concept "privacy" will be explored in this essay: privacy as providing a sphere for intimate personal relationships with family and friends, privacy as freedom from surveillance for purposes of gathering personal information, and privacy as freedom from interference by government or social controls. These concepts describe quite different concerns. They are often grouped together under the single term "privacy," but not without some strain... A comparison between a modern Western value and its counterpart, if any, in very early Confucian and Taoist belief is inevitably somewhat strained. But it serves a purpose. If nothing else, it helps us to define what is unique about our own views, thereby keeping us from assuming that our talk about privacy refers to some universally shared, thus necessarily correct, human value. ...we value privacy because it permits each person to discover and develop what is unique about himself. Our notion of privacy allows the individual to stand apart from all others. Confucians and Taoists do not give the goal equal emphasis. They, too, value intimate relationships and self-discovery, but the reasons behind these values are inconsistent with our emphasis on individual uniqueness.
Publication Information & Recommended Citation
Whitman, Christina B. "Privacy in Confucian and Taoist Thought." In Individualism and Holism: Studies in Confucian and Taoist Values, edited by D. Munro. Ann Arbor: Univ. of Michigan, Center for Chinese Studies, 1985.