Setting the Record Straight: Confucius' Notion of Ren [Book Review]

Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 11 (1):39-52 (2012)
  Copy   BIBTEX


Abstract Comparative studies involving early Confucian ethics often appear to assume that it is a unified approach to morality. This essay challenges that assumption by arguing that Confucius had a significantly different conception of ren , commonly viewed as central to Confucian ethics, from that of Mencius. It is generally accepted that ren has two senses: in a narrow sense, it is the virtue of benevolence (or compassion); in a broad sense, it is the all-encompassing ethical ideal. Both senses fail to capture Confucius’ conception of ren , for the narrow sense fits only Mencius’ understanding of ren , while the broad sense lacks emphasis and precision. I propose a third sense of ren , that is, ren as an integral, higher-order virtue with respect as its most salient component. This sense of ren is more in keeping with the textual evidence in the Analects . It played a key role in Confucius’ political-moral thinking and made his doctrine diverge considerably from that of Mencius, who understood ren primarily as compassion



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 94,623

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Reconsidering Ren as Virtue and Benevolence.George Rudebusch - 2013 - Journal of Chinese Philosophy 40 (3-4):456-472.
Ren: An Exemplary Life.Karyn L. Lai - 2013 - In Amy Olberding (ed.), Dao Companion to the Analects. Springer. pp. 83-94.
Virtue: Confucius and Aristotle.Jiyuan Yu - 1998 - Philosophy East and West 48 (2):323-347.
The Spirit of Confucian Philosophy in the "Dazhaun".Robert Charles Snyder - 2001 - Dissertation, California Institute of Integral Studies
The ontology of Confucius jen (humanity).Lai Chen - 2023 - New Jersey: World Scientific. Edited by Chunlan Jin.
The examined life: Chinese perspectives: essays on Chinese ethical traditions.Xinyan Jiang (ed.) - 2002 - Binghamton, N.Y.: Global Publications, Binghamton University.


Added to PP

96 (#178,830)

6 months
11 (#350,969)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Citations of this work

Mencius, Hume, and the Virtue of Humanity: Sources of Benevolent Moral Development.Jeremiah Carey & Rico Vitz - 2020 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 28 (4):693-713.
Four challenges to Confucian virtue ethics in technology.Morten Bay - 2021 - Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society 19 (3):358-373.

Add more citations