Mencius

Edited by Hagop Sarkissian (CUNY Graduate Center, Baruch College (CUNY))
Assistant editor: Andrew Lambert (College of Staten Island (CUNY))
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  1. Resenting Heaven in the Mencius : An Extended Footnote to Mencius 2B13.Daryl Ooi - forthcoming - Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy:1-23.
    It is widely accepted among Mencius scholars that for Mencius, the junzi 君子 is the kind of person who accepts Heaven’s will and never resents Heaven. There are, however, several passages where resentment seems to be presented as a quality that the junzi possesses. In particular, Mencius 2B13 has been the subject of much contention. In Section 1, I will discuss various interpretations of 2B13, building on and updating Philip Ivanhoe’s helpful 1988 survey. In Section 2, I will present an (...)
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  2. Confucianism and Totalitarianism: An Arendtian Reconsideration of Mencius Vs. Xunzi.Lee Wilson - forthcoming - Philosophy East and West 71 (4).
    Totalitarianism is perhaps unanimously regarded as one of the greatest political evils of the last century and has been the grounds for much of Anglo-American political theory since. Confucianism, meanwhile, has been gaining credibility in the past decades among sympathizers of democratic theory in spite of criticisms of it being anti-democratic or authoritarian. I consider how certain key concepts in the classical Confucian texts of the Mencius and the Xunzi might or might not be appropriated for ‘legitimising’ totalitarian regimes. Under (...)
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  3. Mencius, Hume, and the Virtue of Humanity: Sources of Benevolent Moral Development.Jeremiah Carey & Rico Vitz - 2020 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 28 (4):693-713.
    In this paper, we elucidate the moral psychology and what we might call the moral sociology of Mencius and of Hume, and we argue for three claims. First, we demonstrate that there are strong similarities between Mencius and Hume concerning some of the principal psychological sources of the virtue of humanity. Second, we show that there are strong similarities between the two concerning some of the principal social sources of the virtue of humanity. Third, we argue that there are related, (...)
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  4. Love’s Extension: Confucian Familial Love and the Challenge of Impartiality.Andrew Lambert - 2020 - In Michael Kühler Rachel Fedock (ed.), Love, Justice, and Autonomy: Philosophical Perspectives. New York, NY, USA: pp. 364pp.
    The question of possible moral conflict between commitment to family and to impartiality is particularly relevant to traditional Confucian thought, given the importance of familial bonds in that tradition. Classical Confucian ethics also appears to lack any developed theoretical commitment to impartiality as a regulative ideal and a standpoint for ethical judgment, or to universal equality. The Confucian prioritizing of family has prompted criticism of Confucian ethics, and doubts about its continuing relevance in China and beyond. This chapter assesses how (...)
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  5. The Challenge of Selfish Actions to the Fight Against COVID-19 and Mencius's Condemnation of Yang Zhu.Ranie Villaver - 2020 - SES Journal:32-52.
    Because Mencius’s condemnation is equivalent to condemnation of ethical egoism, Mencius’s condemnation of Yang Zhu has something to say about the fight against COVID-19. There are measures, imposed by government, to fight the virus and defiance against these measures is condemned as selfish. In other words, Mencius’s condemnation of Yang Zhu could be said to be saying that the defiance is to be condemned as selfish.
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  6. Emotional Attachment and Its Limits: Mengzi, Gaozi and the Guodian Discussions.Karyn L. Lai - 2019 - Frontiers of Philosophy in China 14 (1):132-151.
    Mengzi maintained that both benevolence (ren 仁) and rightness (yi 義) are naturally-given in human nature. This view has occupied a dominant place in Confucian intellectual history. In Mencius 6A, Mengzi's interlocutor, Gaozi, contests this view, arguing that rightness is determined by (doing what is fitting, in line with) external circumstances. I discuss here some passages from the excavated Guodian texts, which lend weight to Gaozi's view. The texts reveal nuanced considerations of relational proximity and its limits, setting up requirements (...)
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  7. Mengzi’s Moral Psychology, Part 1: The Four Moral Sprouts.John Ramsey - 2018 - 1000-Word Philosophy: An Introductory Anthology.
    Mengzi (372–289 BCE), or Mencius, an early Confucian whose thinking is represented in the eponymous Mengzi, argues that human nature is good and that all human beings possess four senses—the feelings of compassion, shame, respect, and the ability to approve and disapprove—which he variously calls “hearts” or “sprouts.” Each sprout may be cultivated into its corresponding virtue of ren, li, yi, or zhi. -/- Here we explore why Mengzi thinks we possess these four hearts and their relation to the cultivated (...)
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  8. Mengzi’s Moral Psychology, Part 2: The Cultivation Analogy.John Ramsey - 2018 - 1000-Word Philosophy: An Introductory Anthology.
    We explore the central analogy behind Mengzi’s view of ethical cultivation. -/- Philosophers sometimes ask what makes a person’s life worthwhile or what conditions make for a good life. Mengzi’s answer involves cultivating our innate moral senses into fully ripened virtues of ren (humaneness), yi (rightness), li (propriety), and zhi (wisdom). This cultivation neither is individualistic nor can it happen in isolation: it requires a lifetime of meaningful interactions with other people. In short, one’s ethical cultivation is interdependent with other (...)
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  9. Confucianism and American Philosophy.Mathew A. Foust - 2017 - Albany, USA: SUNY Press.
    In this highly original work, Mathew A. Foust breaks new ground in comparative studies through his exploration of the connections between Confucianism and the American Transcendentalist and Pragmatist movements. In his examination of a broad range of philosophers, including Confucius, Mencius, Xunzi, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Charles Peirce, William James, and Josiah Royce, Foust traces direct lines of influence from early translations of Confucian texts and brings to light conceptual affinities that have been previously overlooked. Combining resources from (...)
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  10. Confucianism and American Philosophy. [REVIEW]Andrew Lambert - 2017 - Review of Metaphysics 71 (4).
  11. Wong on Three Confucian Metaphors for Ethical Development.Christian Miller - 2017 - Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 16 (4):551-558.
    This is my contribution to a symposium on David Wong’s paper, “Early Confucian Philosophy and the Development of Compassion.” I simply grant Wong his reading of the relevant texts and consider the merits of the ideas about ethical development on their own terms. In particular, my aim is to see how fruitful these ideas might be in the contemporary philosophical landscape.
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  12. Correlative Reasoning About Water in Mengzi 6A2.Nicholaos Jones - 2016 - Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 15 (2):193-207.
    Mengzi 孟子 6A2 contains the famous water analogy for the innate goodness of human nature. Some evaluate Mengzi’s reasoning as strong and sophisticated; others, as weak or sophistical. I urge for more nuance in our evaluation. Mengzi’s reasoning fares poorly when judged by contemporary standards of analogical strength. However, if we evaluate the analogy as an instance of correlative thinking within a yin-yang 陰陽 cosmology, his reasoning fares well. That cosmology provides good reason to assert that water tends to flow (...)
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  13. How Kierkegaard Can Help Us Understand Covering in Analects 13.18.Andrew James Komasinski - 2016 - Asian Philosophy 26 (2):133-148.
    ABSTRACTI suggest that Kierkegaard proves a helpful interlocutor in the debate about Analects 13.18 and the meaning of yin 隱. After surveying the contemporary debate, I argue that Kierkegaard and the Confucians agree on three important points. First, they both present relational selves. Second, both believe certain relationships are integral for moral knowledge. Third, both present a differentiated account of love where our obligations are highest to those with whom we are closest. Moreover, Kierkegaard’s ‘covering’ in the deliberation ‘Love covers (...)
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  14. Confucian Role Ethics: A Critical Survey.John Ramsey - 2016 - Philosophy Compass 11 (5):235-245.
    This article surveys recent scholarship on Confucian role ethics, examines some of its fundamental commitments, and suggests future directions for scholarship. Role ethics interprets early Confucianism as promoting a relational conception of persons and employs this conception to emphasize how a person's roles and relationships are the source of her ethical obligations and ethical growth. While there is much consensus among role ethic scholars, they disagree over the role of theory in further explicating the view and about the metaphysical basis (...)
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  15. Confucian Role Ethics and Relational Autonomy in the Mengzi.John Ramsey - 2016 - Philosophy East and West 66 (3):903-922.
    This essay examines whether Confucian role ethics offers resources to identify and redress gender inequality and oppression. On its face, Confucian role ethics seems ill suited for this task for two reasons. First, a central tenet of role ethics is that a person is constituted by her roles. Because roles are constituted by norms that govern them, many social roles are, and have been, historically oppressive. Second, discussions of Confucian role ethics tend to avoid talk of autonomy, yet autonomy is (...)
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  16. The Role of Human Nature in Moral Inqiury: MacIntyre, Mencius, and Xunzi.Richard Kim - 2015 - History of Philosophy Quarterly 32 (4):313-333.
    Appeals to human nature in normative inquiry have fallen out of favor among contemporary philosophers. There are a variety of reasons frequently cited by those who see appeals to human nature as deeply problematic: (a) that the notion of human nature, which conceives nature as having a teleological direction, is incompatible with evolutionary biology; (b) that the manifest diversity of cultural values and traditions falsify any essentialist claims involving a common nature necessarily shared by all humans; (c) that appeals to (...)
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  17. Mengzi’s Externalist Solution to the Role Dilemma.John Ramsey - 2015 - Asian Philosophy 25 (2):188-206.
    The role dilemma raises a problem for role ethic interpretations of Confucianism. The dilemma arises from the conflict between the demands and obligations of Humaneness and the demands and obligations of roles one occupies. Favoring the demands of Humaneness undermines a role ethic because roles and role-obligations no longer ground the ethic. However, favoring social role-obligations permits immoral and unjust role-obligations and allows for uncharitable readings of Confucianism.This paper examines how Mengzi resolves the dilemma. I argue that Mengzi’s account of (...)
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  18. Wisdom, Agency, and the Role of Reasons in Mengzi.John Ramsey - 2015 - Journal of Chinese Philosophy 42 (3-4):300-317.
    I examine the role moral reasons play in the Mengzi and their relationship to Mengzi's conception of wisdom. Some commentators have argued that agency in early Chinese thought is best characterized as performance based rather than deliberation based. I propose that Mengzi's conception of agency is both performative and deliberative because he understands wisdom as a sort of expert decision making. Consequently, Mengzi relies on moral reasons of two sorts. First, duan-reasons are reasons to act so as to overcome internal (...)
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  19. Growing Virtue: The Theory and Science of Developing Compassion From a Mencian Perspective.David Wong - 2015 - In Brian Bruya (ed.), The Philosophical Challenge from China. Cambridge: MIT.
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  20. Seok, Bongrae, Embodied Moral Psychology and Confucian Philosophy: Lanham: Lexington Books, 2013, Xvi + 197 Pages.Brian Bruya - 2014 - Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 13 (4):613-616.
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  21. Ethics of Compassion: Buddhist Karuṇā and Confucian Ren.Tim Connolly - 2013 - In Ithamar Theodor Zhihua Yao (ed.), Brahman and Dao: Comparative Studies of Indian and Chinese Philosophy and Religion. Lexington Books.
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  22. Sagehood and Supererogation in the Analects.Timothy Connolly - 2013 - Journal of Chinese Philosophy 40 (2):269-286.
    The Confucian ethical tradition emphasizes unceasing progress toward the goal of sagehood, and so it is generally opposed to the idea of supererogation, as this implies that we may be satisfied with attaining some sub-sagely level of morality. The one possible exception to this anti-supererogationist stance, however, turns out to be Confucius himself, who in the Analects appears to downplay sagehood and instead focus on the goal of junzi. Yet given that Confucius stresses ceaseless cultivation as much as anyone else (...)
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  23. Partiality Versus Impartiality in Early Confucianism.Lok Hoe - 2013 - Philosophia 41 (2).
    Confucianism supports partiality because of its heavy emphasis on filial piety, but this may not always be true. Some assertions in the Analects appear to support comprehensive cosmopolitanism . Filial piety can simply be a requirement for moral training, and once this virtue is cultivated, the individual should extend the same love to all human beings. Impartiality as a requirement of morality is clearly exhibited in Mencius. If it is human nature to feel fear and pity for a child on (...)
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  24. What’s Ignored in Itō Jinsai’s Interpretation of Mencius?Chun-Chieh Huang - 2013 - Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 12 (1):1-10.
    This article discusses the 17 th century Japanese Confucian I tō Jinsai’s interpretation of Mencius. It is argued that I tō Jinsai grinds the Mencius with an axe of Japanese “practical learning.” In his representation of Mencius, the government of “Kindly Way” is upheld as the core value in Mencius’ thought. Although there is a clear spirituality in his own philosophy, he stressed the political aspect of Mencius’ thought at the expense of the transcendental aspect of his theory of human (...)
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  25. The Bridge of Benevolence: Hutcheson and Mencius.Alejandra Mancilla - 2013 - Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 12 (1):57-72.
    The Scottish sentimentalist Francis Hutcheson and the Chinese Confucianist Mencius give benevolence (ren) a key place in their respective moral theories, as the first and foundational virtue. Leaving aside differences in style and method, my purpose in this essay is to underline this similarity by focusing on four common features: first, benevolence springs from compassion, an innate and universal feeling shared by all human beings; second, its objects are not only human beings but also animals; third, it is sensitive to (...)
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  26. The Bridge of Benevolence: Hutcheson and Mencius.Alejandra Mancilla - 2013 - Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy.
    The Scottish sentimentalist Francis Hutcheson and the Chinese Confucianist Mencius give benevolence (ren) a key place in their respectivemoral theories, as the first and foundational virtue. Leaving aside differences in style and method, my purpose in this essay is to underline this similarity by focusing on four common features: first, benevolence springs from compassion, an innate and universal feeling shared by all human beings; second, its objects are not only human beings but also animals; third, it is sensitive to proximity; (...)
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  27. Structured Inclusivism About Human Flourishing: A Mengzian Formulation.Matthew D. Walker - 2013 - In Stephen C. Angle & Michael Slote (eds.), Virtue Ethics and Confucianism. New York, NY, USA: pp. 94-102.
  28. Mencius and Dewey on Moral Perception, Deliberation, and Imagination.Amit Chaturvedi - 2012 - Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 11 (2):163-185.
    I argue against interpretations of Mencius by Liu Xiusheng and Eric Hutton that attempt to make sense of a Mencian account of moral judgment and deliberation in light of the moral particularism of John McDowell. These interpretations read Mencius’s account as relying on a faculty of moral perception, which generates moral judgments by directly perceiving moral facts that are immediately intuited with the help of rudimentary and innate moral inclinations. However, I argue that it is a mistake to identify innate (...)
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  29. An Aristotelian Doctrine of the Mean in the Mencius?Howard J. Curzer - 2012 - Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 11 (1):53-62.
    Xiahui. While Confucius’ actions are intermediate between the actions of these three sages, the sages’ character traits do not bracket Confucius’ character traits. Instead, the failings of the three sages are skew to each other. Boyi lacks righteousness; Y i Yin lacks benevolence; and L iu Xiahui lacks wisdom. The comparison of the sages centers on the question of when to resign an advisory position. According to Mencius, one should resign only if one’s advice will not be heeded, or if (...)
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  30. Mengzi (Mencius), Adam Smith and Edmund Husserl on Sympathy and Conscience.Iso Kern - 2012 - In Christel Fricke & Dagfinn Føllesdal (eds.), Intersubjectivity and Objectivity in Adam Smith and Edmund Husserl. Ontos Verlag. pp. 139-170.
  31. Van Norden, Bryan W. (Tr.), Mengzi: With Selections From Traditional Commentaries. [REVIEW]Jung H. Lee - 2012 - Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 11 (3):409-413.
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  32. Setting the Record Straight: Confucius' Notion of Ren. [REVIEW]Shirong Luo - 2012 - Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 11 (1):39-52.
    Abstract Comparative studies involving early Confucian ethics often appear to assume that it is a unified approach to morality. This essay challenges that assumption by arguing that Confucius had a significantly different conception of ren , commonly viewed as central to Confucian ethics, from that of Mencius. It is generally accepted that ren has two senses: in a narrow sense, it is the virtue of benevolence (or compassion); in a broad sense, it is the all-encompassing ethical ideal. Both senses fail (...)
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  33. A Synthetic Comprehension of the Way of Zhong in Early Confucian Philosophy.Keqian Xu - 2012 - Frontiers of Philosophy in China 7 (3):422-438.
    Zhong 中 is a very important philosophical concept in early Confucianism. Both the received ancient Confucian classics and the newly discovered ancient bamboo manuscripts tell us that adhering to the principle of zhong was an important charge that had been transmitted and inherited by early ancient Chinese political leaders from generation to generation. Confucius and his followers adopted the concept of zhong and further developed it into a sophisticated doctrine, which is usually called zhongdao 中道 (the Way of zhong) or (...)
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  34. Ren Xing and What It is to Be Truly Human.Dennis Arjo - 2011 - Journal of Chinese Philosophy 38 (3):455-473.
  35. Naturalizing Mencius.James Behuniak Jr - 2011 - Philosophy East and West 61 (3):492-515.
    In a recent paper titled “Mencius and an Ethics of the New Century,” Donald J. Munro argues that recent theories in the evolutionary sciences regarding the biological basis of altruism and infant bonding might lend credence to Mencius’ philosophy of human nature.1 Such theories, says Munro, support Mencius’ contention that certain moral concepts derive from something that is inborn. What such naturalistic theories do not address, however, is whether or not these moral concepts are also “founded on something transcendental,” and (...)
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  36. Finding Wisdom in East Asian Classics.Wm Theodore de Bary (ed.) - 2011 - Cambridge University Press.
    _Finding Wisdom in East Asian Classics_ is an essential, all-access guide to the core texts of East Asian civilization and culture. Essays address frequently read, foundational texts in Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese, as well as early modern fictional classics and nonfiction works of the seventeenth century. Building strong links between these writings and the critical traditions of Confucianism, Buddhism, and Daoism, this volume shows the vital role of the classics in the shaping of Asian history and in the development (...)
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  37. Mencius' Aesthetics and its Position.Jiaxiang Hu - 2011 - Frontiers of Philosophy in China 6 (1):41-56.
    Mencius’ aesthetics unfolded around the ideal personality in his mind. Such an ideal personality belonged to a great man who was sublime, practical and honorable, and it was presented as the beauty of magnificence or the beauty of masculinity. Mencius put forward many propositions such as the completed goodness that is brightly displayed is called greatness, nourishing one’s grand qi 气 (the great morale personality), only after a man is a sage can he completely suits himself to his own form, (...)
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  38. McDowell, Wang Yangming, and Mengzi’s Contributions to Understanding Moral Perception.Philip J. Ivanhoe - 2011 - Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 10 (3):273-290.
    This essay explores some of the similarities and differences between the views of several Western and Chinese thinkers on the metaphysical status of moral qualities and how we come to perceive and appreciate them. It then uses this comparative analysis to identify and address some remaining problems in regard to these two issues. The essay offers a brief sketch of and introduction to the history of the study of moral qualities and moral perception in modern Western philosophy and takes the (...)
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  39. Arguing for Zisi and Mencius as the Respective Authors of the "Wuxing" Canon and Commentary Sections, and the Historical Significance of the Discovery of the Guodian "Wuxing" Text.Chen Lai - 2011 - Contemporary Chinese Thought 43 (2):14-25.
  40. A Study of the Philosophy of the Silk "Wuxing" Text Commentary Section and a Discussion of the Silk "Wuxing" Text and Mencius's Philosophy.Chen Lai - 2011 - Contemporary Chinese Thought 43 (2):70-107.
  41. Mengzi: With Selections From Traditional Commentaries (Review).Yuet Keung Lo - 2011 - Philosophy East and West 61 (2):399-402.
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  42. The Cultivation of Moral Feelings and Mengzi's Method of Extension.Emily McRae - 2011 - Philosophy East and West 61 (4):587-608.
    Offered here is an interpretation of the ancient Confucian philosopher Mengzi's (372–289 B.C.E.) method of cultivating moral feelings, which he calls "extension." It is argued that this method is both psychologically plausible and an important, but often overlooked, part of moral life. In this interpretation, extending our moral feelings is not a project in logical consistency, analogical reasoning, or emotional intuition. Rather, Mengzi's method of extension is a project in realigning the human heart that harnesses our rational, reflective, and emotional (...)
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  43. Manufacturing Mohism in the Mencius.Thomas Radice - 2011 - Asian Philosophy 21 (2):139 - 152.
    The Mencius contains several negative remarks about the Mohists and their doctrine of ?universal love? (jian?ai). However, little attention has been paid to whether Mencius? descriptions of Mohism were accurate. Fortunately, there is a surviving record of the beliefs of Mozi in the text that bears his name. In this essay, I analyze this text and descriptions of Mohism from other early Chinese texts, and compare them to the criticisms of Mohism in the Mencius. Ultimately, I show that the image (...)
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  44. Translating (and Interpreting) the Mengzi: Virtue, Obligation, and Discretion.Stephen C. Angle - 2010 - Journal of Chinese Philosophy 37 (4):676-683.
  45. Mengzi and its Philosophical Commitments: Comments on Van Norden’s Mengzi.Susan Blake - 2010 - Journal of Chinese Philosophy 37 (4):668-675.
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  46. Confucianism and Ethics in the Western Philosophical Tradition I: Foundational Concepts.Mary I. Bockover - 2010 - Philosophy Compass 5 (4):307-316.
    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 (...)
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  47. Courage in the Analects : A Genealogical Survey of the Confucian Virtue of Courage. [REVIEW]Lisheng Chen - 2010 - Frontiers of Philosophy in China 5 (1):1-30.
    The different meanings of “courage” in The Analects were expressed in Confucius’ remark on Zilu’s bravery. The typological analysis of courage in Mencius and Xunzi focused on the shaping of the personalities of brave persons. “Great courage” and “superior courage”, as the virtues of “great men” or “ shi junzi 士君子 (intellectuals with noble characters)”, exhibit not only the uprightness of the “internal sagacity”, but also the rich implications of the “external kingship”. The prototype of these brave persons could be (...)
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  48. What Does the Modularity of Morals Have to Do With Ethics? Four Moral Sprouts Plus or Minus a Few.Owen Flanagan & Robert Anthony Williams - 2010 - Topics in Cognitive Science 2 (3):430-453.
    Flanagan (1991) was the first contemporary philosopher to suggest that a modularity of morals hypothesis (MMH) was worth consideration by cognitive science. There is now a serious empirically informed proposal that moral competence is best explained in terms of moral modules-evolutionarily ancient, fast-acting, automatic reactions to particular sociomoral experiences (Haidt & Joseph, 2007). MMH fleshes out an idea nascent in Aristotle, Mencius, and Darwin. We discuss the evidence for MMH, specifically an ancient version, “Mencian Moral Modularity,” which claims four innate (...)
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  49. The Nature of the Virtues in Light of the Early Confucian Tradition".Eirik Lang Harris - 2010 - In Julia Tao, Philip J. Ivanhoe & Kam-por Yu (eds.), Taking Confucian Ethics Seriously: Contemporary Theories and Applications. Suny Press.
    In this paper, I take a prominent and plausible conception of virtues from the Western tradition, apply it to some early Confucian texts, and see where it succeeds and fails. In this way, I hope to be able to show how this conception of virtues needs to be revised. The particular conception of virtues I am starting with is one of virtues as correctives that was made prominent by Philippa Foot in her paper “Virtues and Vices.” On Foot’s account, “the (...)
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  50. What Cèyǐn Zhī Xīn (Compassion/Familial Affection) Really Is.Myeong-Seok Kim - 2010 - Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 9 (4):407-425.
    This essay aims to delineate Mengzi’s view of emotion by analyzing his first ethical sprout, often referred to by the Chinese term cèyǐn zhī xīn 惻隱之心.Previous scholars usually translate this term as “compassion,” “sympathy,” or “commiseration,” in the sense of the painful feeling one feels at the misfortune of others. My goal in this article is to clarify the nature of this painful feeling, and specifically I argue that (1) cèyǐn zhī xīn is primarily construing another being’s misfortune with sympathetic (...)
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