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Ethics in Early ChinaAn Anthology$
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Chris Fraser, Dan Robins, and Timothy O'Leary

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9789888028931

Published to Hong Kong Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.5790/hongkong/9789888028931.001.0001

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Agon and Hé: Contest and Harmony

Agon and Hé: Contest and Harmony

Chapter:
(p.197) 10 Agon and : Contest and Harmony
Source:
Ethics in Early China
Author(s):

David B. Wong

Publisher:
Hong Kong University Press
DOI:10.5790/hongkong/9789888028931.003.0011

This chapter considers two values that are usually taken to be in tension with each other: the value of agon or contest, a central value of Greek classical culture, and the value of or harmony, a central value of Chinese classical culture. The association of these values with the Greek and Chinese traditions respectively leads to contrasts between the “combative individualism of the West” and the “harmonious social humanism of China.” Agon and are often taken to be mutually exclusive. However, the chapter argues that contest and harmony co-exist in both the Greek and Chinese moral traditions, because these values not only exist in tension with one another but also mutually imply one another. The Greek and Chinese traditions differ in the prominence given to contest in the former and to harmony in the latter, but the other value given less prominence is still present in each tradition.

Keywords:   agon, Greek classical culture, , harmony, Chinese classical culture

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