Dreaming of the Duke of Zhou: Exemplarism and the analects

Journal of Chinese Philosophy 35 (4):625-639 (2008)
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Exemplars clearly play a significant role in the ethical vision of the Analects. However, while they are often treated as illustrations of the text’s more abstract ethical commitments, I argue that they are better understood to source those commitments. Such is to say that the conceptual schemata of the Analects – its account of human flourishing, the specific virtues it recommends, and its suggested path for self cultivation – originate in the people the text so vividly describes, in the unmediated experiences of admiration and appreciation that these figures inspire. Theory is here an attempt to take our responses to exemplars and query just why we admire them, lifting from the examples they provide more general observations about virtue. Drawing on Linda Zagzebski’s’s recent work, I argue that there are both sound textual reasons and important prudential reasons to treat the Analects as exemplarist virtue ethic.



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Amy Olberding
University of Oklahoma

Citations of this work

Exemplarist virtue theory.Linda Zagzebski - 1996 - Metaphilosophy 41 (1-2):41-57.
Chinese ethics.David Wong - 2012 - In Peter Adamson (ed.), Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Early Confucian Philosophy and the Development of Compassion.David B. Wong - 2015 - Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 14 (2):157-194.
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Moral Artisanship in Mengzi 6A7.Dobin Choi - 2018 - Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 17 (3):331-348.

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