Esoteric Confucianism, Moral Dilemmas, and Filial Piety

Metaphilosophy 51 (2-3):206-225 (2020)
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Abstract

Two controversial cases in Confucian literature present the demands of filial piety as conflicting with those of impartial justice. Let us call them the Case of Concealment (Analects 18.13) and the Case of Evasion (Mencius 7A53). A dogmatic reading of the texts indicates that both Confucius and Mencius give more weight to filial piety than to justice. This essay, however, provides an alternative reading of the cases: the liberal reading. I argue that the Confucian teachers used the cases as moral dilemmas that force Confucian students to learn how to use a cluster of Confucian virtues, including practical wisdom, discretion, and straight determination, under difficult circumstances. The liberal reading views these moral dilemmas as rhetorical tools; they guide Confucian students in meditative exercises and ultimately transform students’ mode of seeing and being.

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References found in this work

Mortal Questions.Thomas Nagel - 1983 - Religious Studies 19 (1):96-99.
Neo-Confucianism: A Philosophical Introduction.Stephen C. Angle & Justin Tiwald - 2017 - Cambridge, UK: Polity. Edited by Justin Tiwald.
Mortal Questions.Thomas Nagel - 1980 - Critica 12 (34):125-133.
Moral Luck. Philosophical Papers 1973-1980.Bernard Williams - 1983 - Philosophical Quarterly 33 (132):288-296.
Moral Dilemmas.Earl Conee & Walter Sinnott-Armstrong - 1992 - Philosophical Review 101 (2):460.

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