Politics and interest in early Confucianism

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Abstract

This essay investigates the "morality of interest" in classical Confucianism by examining the philosophical thoughts of Mencius and Xunzi. It argues that despite many differences, Mencius and Xunzi strove to (re-)construct a civil political order that could best serve the welfare of the people by rejecting the stringent dichotomy of morality and interest and attempted to reinvent interest enlightened by ren (benevolence) and yi (righteousness) and harnessed by li (Confucian rituals). Examining Mencius' advocacy of a creative entwinement between the Kingly Way and interest and his unarticulated idea of positive Confucian moral politics, it is shown how Xunzi brought Mencius' nascent idea of positive Confucian moral politics to full fruition by, ironically, criticizing him.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)425-448
Number of pages24
JournalPhilosophy East and West
Volume64
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Apr

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Philosophy

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