The Educative Function of Personal Style in the "Analects"

Philosophy East and West 57 (3):357 - 374 (2007)
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One of the central pedagogical strategies employed in the "Analects" consists in the suggestion of models worthy of emulation. The text's most robust models, the dramatic personae of the text, emerge as colorful figures with distinctive personal styles of action and behavior. This is especially so in the case of Confucius himself. In this essay, two particularly notable features of Confucius' style are considered. The first, what is termed "everyday" style, consists in Confucius' unusual command of conventional norms in ordinary circumstances; the second, termed "deviant" style, consists in Confucius' occasional and sometimes puzzling departures from conventional norms. The combind effect of these two aspects of Confucius' personal style is shown to yield a productive pedagogical tension for the moral learner who would emulate, but cannot imitate, Confucius



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Amy Olberding
University of Oklahoma

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