Journal of Confucian Philosophy and Culture 30:75–103 (2018)
AbstractChristian B. Miller has noted a “realism challenge” for virtue ethicists to provide an account of how the character gap between virtuous agents and non-virtuous agents can be bridged. This is precisely one of Han Feizi’s key criticisms against Confucian virtue ethics, as Eric L. Hutton argues, which also cuts across the Aristotelian one: appealing to virtuous agents as ethical models provides the wrong kind of guidance for the development of virtues. Hutton, however, without going into detail, notes that the notion of rituals in the Confucian tradition may be able to sidestep Han Feizi’s criticism. In this essay, I wish to explore not only how the notion of rituals, alongside its corollaries in Xunzi’s Confucian program for ethical cultivation, indeed addresses Han Feizi’s criticism, but also observe that Aristotle’s tragic poetry plays functionally equivalent roles in his own understanding of ethical upbringing. I will begin by considering Han Feizi’s critique of ethical cultivation in virtue ethics as such and how it poses a specific problem for the acquisition of the ‘constitutive reasoning’ shared by Aristotle and Xunzi. I will then briefly note that this problem trades on the synthetic structure of human nature found in both Aristotle and Xunzi (the rational/irrational parts of the soul and the heartmind/five faculties), which grounds the way they understand ethical action and agency. Finally, I will suggest how both Aristotle and Xunzi understand the role of the arts in their extensive programme of ethical cultivation, allowing them to respond to Han Feizi’s attack as too narrow a construal of their respective ethical projects. It is hoped that, through this, we may gain a better sense of how more recent virtue ethicists may similarly draw on aesthetic resources for ethical development.
Similar books and articles
Cultivation : The goal of Xunzi’s ethical thought. [REVIEW]Shiyou Zhan - 2007 - Frontiers of Philosophy in China 2 (1):25-49.
Is Xunzi’s Virtue Ethics Susceptible to the Problem of Alienation?James Harold - 2011 - Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 10 (1):71-84.
Ethics and Tradition in the "Xunzi".Thornton Charles Kline - 1998 - Dissertation, Stanford University
Virtues in Xunzi's Thought.Jonathan W. Schofer - 1993 - Journal of Religious Ethics 21 (1):117 - 136.
Virtue and the Evilness of Human Nature: The Construction of Xun Zi's Moral Foundation-A Perspective of Virtue Ethics.Kai Wang - 2007 - Philosophy and Culture 34 (12):87-104.
Situationism and Confucian Virtue Ethics.Deborah S. Mower - 2013 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 16 (1):113-137.
Xunzi: A Paradigm of Rationalistic Virtue Ethics in Early Confucianism.Wang Kai - 2013 - Frontiers of Philosophy in China 8 (3):388-396.
The Role of Virtue in Xunzi’s 荀子 Political Philosophy.Eirik Lang Harris - 2013 - Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 12 (1):93-110.
Xunzi and Mimamsa on the Source and Ground of Ritual: An Analogical Argument.Alexus McLeod - 2018 - Philosophy East and West 68 (3):737-761.
Justice as a virtue: An analysis of Aristotle’s virtue of justice.Huang Xianzhong - 2007 - Frontiers of Philosophy in China 2 (2):265-279.
Early Confucian Ethics and Moral Sentimentalism.Shirong Luo - 2004 - Dissertation, University of Miami
Integrative ethical education: Narvaez’s project and Xunzi’s insight.Yen-Yi Lee - 2018 - Educational Philosophy and Theory 50 (13):1203-1213.
A Developmentalist Interpretation of Aristotle's "Nichomachean Ethics".Hope Elizabeth May - 2000 - Dissertation, Michigan State University
Added to PP
Historical graph of downloads
Citations of this work
Genealogy as Meditation and Adaptation with the Han Feizi.Lee Wilson - 2022 - The Monist 105 (4):452-469.
Xunzi’s Ritual Program as a Response to Han Feizi’s Criticism of Confucianism.Colin J. Lewis - 2020 - Journal of Confucian Philosophy and Culture 34 (August):129-153.
References found in this work
Lack of Character: Personality and Moral Behavior.John M. Doris - 2002 - Cambridge University Press.
Freedom and Resentment.Peter Strawson - 2003 - In Gary Watson (ed.), Free Will. Oxford University Press.
Virtue Ethics and Consequentialism in Early Chinese Philosophy.Bryan van Norden - 2007 - Cambridge University Press.