Confucianism and ethics in the western philosophical tradition I: Foundational concepts

Philosophy Compass 5 (4):307-316 (2010)
Abstract
Confucianism conceives of persons as being necessarily interdependent, defining personhood in terms of the various roles one embodies and that are established by the relationships basic to one's life. By way of contrast, the Western philosophical tradition has predominantly defined persons in terms of intrinsic characteristics not thought to depend on others. This more strictly and explicitly individualistic concept of personhood contrasts with the Confucian idea that one becomes a person because of others; where one is never a person independently or in and of oneself but develops into one only in community. This article surveys some differences between Confucian and Western ideas of self and their connection to ethics mainly in light of the relational self of the Confucian Analects and Mencius . A Philosophy Compass article called Confucianism and Ethics in the Western Philosophical Tradition II: A Comparative Analysis of Personhood will follow, that examines how the more individualistic way of conceiving of personhood in the West has had moral and political implications that differ, and even conflict, with those of Confucianism.
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    Wing-tsit Chan (1963). A Source Book in Chinese Philosophy. Princeton, N.J.,Princeton University Press.

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