The Analects by Confucius (Kongzi)

Author: Nicholas Hudson (University of Hawaii) 

A foundational text of Confucianism, The Analects is a collection of dialogues, sayings, and observations involving Confucius (Kongzi) and his disciples. It is generally believed that Confucius’ disciples started to compose it shortly after his death in 479 B.C.E. and over the next two hundred or so years the text was added to and revised, perhaps becoming the received text around 150 B.C.E. Written during the Warring States Period, a time of great upheaval, much of the book can be seen as a response to violent social and political disorder. It opposes the use of force, advocating instead a government based on ritual and moral authority. Although Confucius describes himself as transmitter and not an innovator (Analects VII.1) and emphasizes the dao (way) of former kings, The Analects does not promote a simple return to the past. Rather, much of the text is concerned with reinterpretation; for example, the word jun, formerly referring to a martial nobleman, comes to mean a cultured noble man. Continue reading “The Analects by Confucius (Kongzi)”

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Mencius (Mengzi) on morality and human nature

Author: Pamela Lee  (University of Ottawa)

Mencius (372-289 B.C.E.), a philosopher of the“Warring States” period of Chinese history, is the most influential Confucian to take up Confucius’theory of morality and humanist vision for a flourishing society. He developed a sophisticated moral psychology as an elaboration of Confucius’ ethic of benevolence (ren) and account of the virtuous sage. He is known for his argument that human nature is innately good because of the existence of moral sprouts (duan)—inborn moral preferences or inclinations. He argued that moral virtue or proficiency could be cultivated through the nurturing of these ‘sprouts’through moral reflection (si), a process of analogical ‘extension’ from paradigmatic moral situations to novel ones. Continue reading “Mencius (Mengzi) on morality and human nature”