Confucius, being one of the earliest of Chinese philosophers that we know of, seems uniquely responsible for setting the tone of Chinese philosophy. His focus on ethical questions of the Way no doubt serves as a reminder of the type of perennial questions that philosophers should answer. In this module, I outline the main concepts of the Analects, followed by an elaboration on the central Confucian ethical doctrines: The doctrine of the Mean, Filial Piety, Patriarchal Hierarchy and the Golden Rule. (...) This is followed by a discussion of the Analects’ comments on politics, and finally, a discussion of the underlying metaethics or moral semantics of Confucius's ethics: The Rectification of Names. Confucius's ethics constitutes a uniquely Asian source of Humanism, and while similar to the ethics of Aristotle, provides a distinctive account of moral theory and Virtue Ethics. (shrink)
Translating Chinese Classics in a Colonial Context: James Legge and His Two Versions of the Zhongyong, by Hui Wang, Peter Lang Content Type Journal Article Pages 166-167 Authors Paul Boshears, Europäische Universität für Interdisziplinäre Studien/The European Graduate School Journal Comparative and Continental Philosophy Online ISSN 1757-0646 Print ISSN 1757-0638 Journal Volume Volume 4 Journal Issue Volume 4, Number 1 / 2012.
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 (...) zhongyong 中庸. Being a polysemous word, zhong has several different but philosophically related meanings. However, for a long time, people usually understood zhong in the sense of only one of its meanings, and zhongdao or zhongyong has been commonly interpreted as “the doctrine of the mean.” My argument in this paper is that a synthetic interpretation, which includes all the semantic meanings of zhong is necessary in order to acquire a deep and well-rounded comprehension of the philosophical significance of the Way of zhong. The Way of zhong features a dialectal view of the relationship between heaven and human beings, mind and materials, subjective desire and the available objective conditions, self and others, centrality and diversity, and so on. The Way of zhong has become a widely applied philosophical methodology in Confucianism, as well as a political principle and a kind of personal moral merit in early Confucian doctrines. Today, it still has relevance in contemporary Chinese social and cultural contexts. (shrink)
The concept of junzi is the central issue in the Zhongyong , one of the most important Confucian books. A junzi leads a life starting with the original disposition of cheng 诚(being truthful to the real self). This paper analyzes the disposition of cheng to reveal two kinds of good in human existence, that is, the natural good, which is present in cheng ; and the idea of good, which is a conceptualization of the natural good. The natural good is (...) actually equal to the nature endowed by the Tian , and so it is primary and absolute. Meanwhile, the idea of good is secondary and can be improved by self-cultivation. The distinction and interaction between these two kinds of good are crucial in conceiving the concept of junzi . Yet, the distinction is so subtle that it often confuses people in self-cultivation. In fact, people in their actual lives may mix them up and perceive only the idea of good. We call this the junzi impasse. The Zhongyong does not offer enough discussion about this impasse. Since this confusion may cause the termination of self-cultivation, this paper offers a comparative discussion in the light of Christian guilty consciousness, and attempts to propose a solution to the junzi impasse. (shrink)
This Nietzschesque “genealogy of morals” presents the Confucian virtue of xin (trust and true) so basic to friendship as a civic virtue rooted among social equals. Among non-equals, a servant has to prove his trustworthiness but not yet vice versa. The script 信 ( xin ) tells of living up to one’s words. Yanxing 言行 (speech and action) describes actively keeping a verbal promise. The Agrarian school endorses xin as the primary virtue in its utopia of virtual equals. It knew (...) oral trust and had no use for written covenants. In debating Mencius, Gaozi kept to that earlier primacy granted public speech as tied to one’s social reputation. Mencius turned inward and elevated mind as the inner good of moral intent instead. In the Doctrine of the Mean , inner xin would expand outward into becoming the ultimate truth, the sincerity of Heaven and Earth. The essay ends on an aside on the case of the Cretan Liar. (shrink)
In Zhongyong 中庸 (The Doctrine of the Mean), cheng 诚 (sincerity) is the “Dao of all Daos”, the “virtue of all virtues”, and thus connects the Dao of humans and that of Heaven. The Dao of humans can reveal the sincerity in the Dao of Heaven in two approaches: to contemplate on sincerity and to conduct in sincerity. Meanwhile, sincerity in the Dao of Heaven is unfolded in everything’s seeking for its own nature and destiny, thus the most fundamental approach (...) for the Dao of humans to reveal the sincerity in the Dao of Heaven is for humans to seek for everything’s own nature and destiny. (shrink)
Roger Ames and David Hall’s Focusing the Falimiar makes a significant contribution to revealing the holistic and dynamic worldview entailed in the Confucian classic--the Zhongyong. Yet their emphasis on metaphysics eclipses an important dimension of the book—the “gongfu” (kungfu) instruction dimension. In this paper, the author first explains this concern by discussing Ames’ and Hall’s translation of the key terms of the book, namely “zhong,” “yong,” and “cheng.” Then he shows that their work, though falls short of revealing the gongfu (...) dimension, has laid the groundwork for taking the further step. (shrink)
The doctrine of the Mean owns an important academic position in ethics theories both in the Western and Eastern philosophical fields. To understand the doctrine of the Mean will benefit further study of virtuous ethical theories. Therefore, I choose this topic as an approach to studying Aristotelian and Confucian ethics theories. The methodology I have chosen is a comparative study. The literary sources are mainly from Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics and Zhongyong, which recorded Confucius’ theories of the Mean, and Confucius’ Lunyu (...) as well. Firstly, I went through the text in Nicomachean Ethics and found out the logic of context, in order to understand Aristotle’s idea of the Mean. Secondly, I referenced and compared some scholars’ interpretations of the doctrine of the Mean, in order to get a fuller understanding. With this approach, I know that the Mean in Aristotle’s doctrine is moral virtue itself, which is a settled intermediate state of character, towards virtuous actions. With the same structure and method, I understand the doctrine of the Mean of Confucius. To Confucius, the Mean is Heavenly nature, being Zhong – He “Equilibrium - Harmony” and Cheng – Ming “Sincerity - Intelligence”. Confucius thinks that Heaven’s nature itself is the virtue of Heaven because it is innately good, so the doctrine of the Mean is a theory of virtue as well. To be virtuous, a man should become one with Heaven and Earth. A comparative methodology has two benefits. One benefit is that it works as a mirroring function. By mirroring each other, we can see various differences more clearly. For instance, at the end of this paper, one can see that the ways to becoming a virtuous person can vary. Aristotle, for example, argues for the neutral natures of men, while Confucius’ ethics theory is based on a claim of innate good natures of men. With acknowledging this difference, we can better understand their ethical theories. The other benefit is we can integrate with broader phenomenon to research, complete the methodology that we have used and open up approaches by a comparative way. Apparently, Aristotle and Confucius have come up with a similar theory utilizes different approaches and methodologies, and also they were focusing on different facts that existed in different eras and places. So, looking through their theories and then comparing them, we can find more sources to analyze along with double approaches and methods to understand the Mean, especially with these two typical theories in both West and East as the theories of Aristotle and Confucius’. In the end, to compare Aristotle and Confucius’ theories is aiming to find a true knowledge of humanity. Although there are some objections to the possibility of this comparison, like Alasdair MacIntyre who described it as “incommensurability”, I believe that the truth can be found, no matter the methodologies, approaches and sources used. (shrink)