The concepts of Jen, Yi and Li in Confucius

Dissertation, University of Hong Kong (1986)
Abstract
(Uncorrected OCR) .A."h>!3 "fc rsL.cs �c Abstract of thesis entitled "The Concepts of Jen, Yi and Li in Confucius' submitted by Fong Chi Wah for the degree of <span class='Hi'>Master</span> of Philosophy at the University of Hong Kong in October, 1986. In this thesis, I investigate Confucius' concepts of Jen*, jdb and lic as represented in the Analects. In Chapter 1, I point out a common hermeneutical pitfall of injecting later meanings of the three concepts into the reading of the Analects. In order to avoid this pitfall, I suggest that the interpretation of the three concepts is to be supplemented by a reading of the historical literature, mainly the Tso-chuan, as a source of information about the pre-Confucian meanings of the concepts of Jen, yi and li. In Chapter 2, I observe that there are two prominent features of the pre-Confucian concept of li: first, it was considered the absolute standard of action; second, emphasis was put on the sociopolitical effects of li. Though Confucius inherited this high respect for li, I try to show that he did not regard it as immutable; rather, he shifted the emphasis of li to the appropriate inner attitudes----deference and reverence �of the Ji-performers. I also tackle the problem of justification of li and suggest that yi is the basis of li. In Chapter 3, I observe that both the pre-Confucians and Confucius understood yi as the Tightness of an action. But what actions are yi? I criticize several proposed answers and suggest i that for Confucius, an action is yi if it is conducive to preserving and enhancing our integrity. I argue that this understanding of yi is implied by chung-shu^. Chung is a commitment to the integrity of both oneself and others. Shu is the ability to "empathize" with others. I further note that they are complementary to each, forming one complex principle. Finally, I explain more clearly how yi is the basis of Ji. In Chapter 4, I observe that the Ch'un Ch'iu intellectuals located the virtue of Jen in one's ability to behave appropriately in human relations. Confucius uses this ancient meaning a few times, but in most cases his emphasis is on the self-cultivation of Jen which consists in being chung-shu. I argue that various other virtues can be seen as springing from chung-shu. Thus Jen is indeed the complete virtue. Finally I reconstruct the relations between Jen and yi and between Jen and li. I argue that Jen and yi are both fundamental concepts, but that Jen is more basic than li. I conclude this thesis by pointing out what I think is the most important insight of Confucius' moral philosophy �its primary orientation towards human beings rather than towards moral laws. a. 1_ D. 3g C. is U-. ic崤;c# ii.
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