Politics and Interest in Early Confucianism

Philosophy East and West 64 (2):425-448 (2014)


Confucianism has long been considered an ethical system that consciously opposes material interest. Most tellingly, upon King Hui of Liang’s question of how to make his state profitable, the quintessential political question that no sensible political leader can afford to avoid, Mencius, one of the three giants of Confucianism (alongside Confucius and Xunzi), responded, “Why must you mention the word ‘profit’ (he bi yue li 何必曰利)? All that matters is that there should be benevolence (ren 仁) and rightness (yi 義).”1As Mencian Confucianism became dominant in mainstream Chinese politics in the eleventh century, later Confucians, especially Cheng-Zhu Neo-Confucians, who were strongly influenced by Mencius, never ..

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Sungmoon Kim
City University of Hong Kong

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