Human nature and self-cultivation: a comparative study on the philosophies of Confucius and John Dewey

Abstract

In this thesis, I have explored, explicated and argued for some specific areas of commonalities between the philosophy of John Dewey and the teaching of Confucius. Both theories start with the same fundamental assumption that there is no such thing as immutable human nature, and their shared emphasis on education is based on this supposition. John Dewey and Confucius agree that the self mainly consists of habits and that the transformation of the self implies growth, i.e., the acquisition of new and intelligent habits. The Deweyan conception of growth overlaps the Confucian doctrine of self-cultivation in that both concepts focus on the obtainment of inner moral qualities that are of great communal import. Dewey's construal of freedom seems to parallel jen, the Confucian ideal, because both thinkers maintain that human perfection is the ultimate goal for which we should strive unceasingly

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