Ren: An Exemplary Life

In Amy Olberding (ed.), Dao Companion to the Analects. Springer. pp. 83-94 (2014)
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This chapter discusses ren 仁, a major term in the Confucian Analects. It analyzes the range of meanings of ren across different conversations, paying special attention to its associations with other key Confucian terms such as li (禮 behavioural propriety) and zhi (知 understanding). Building on this analysis, the discussion focuses on ren in terms of how it is manifest in a person’s life. In particular, it expresses ren in terms of an exemplary life—a life lived well. The chapter also dwells briefly on how this model of a good life can inform and enrich contemporary debates in ethics.



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Karyn L. Lai
University of New South Wales

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