This chapter examines the history of the Confucian legal tradition. The Confucian legal tradition is similar to that of the west (in its secularity) and to legal traditions which are religiously inspired (in its rejection in principle of formal structures and sanctions). However, it is precisely because of this combination that is also remains profoundly different from them. The Confucian legal tradition is law which is secular in origin, yet greatly limited, in its formal version, in its reach and effect.
This book offers a major new means of conceptualizing law and legal relations across the world. National laws are placed in the broader context of major legal traditions, those of chthonic (or indigenous) law, talmudic law, civil law, Islamic law, common law, Hindu law, and Confucian law. Each tradition is examined in terms of its institutions and substantive law, its founding concepts and methods, its attitude towards the concept of change, and its teaching on relations with other traditions and peoples. Legal traditions are explained in terms of multivalent and non-conflictual forms of logic and thought.