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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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PRINTED FROM HONG KONG SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.hongkong.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Hong Kong University Press, 2021. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in HKSO for personal use.date: 28 October 2021

Were the Early Confucians Virtuous?

Were the Early Confucians Virtuous?

(p.17) 1 Were the Early Confucians Virtuous?
Ethics in Early China

Roger T. Ames

Jr. Henry Rosemont

Hong Kong University Press

This chapter responds negatively to the question entitling it. While the vocabulary of virtue ethics for describing the early Confucian vision of the moral life (dào) is superior to those linked to Kantian or utilitarian principle-based ethical theories, that vocabulary, too, forces the Master and his followers more into the mold of Western philosophical discourse than they ought to be placed and hence makes it difficult to see the Confucian vision as a genuine alternative to those with which we are most familiar. The chapter claims that early (pre-Buddhist) Confucianism is best described as a role ethics. This role ethics is sui generis in both philosophy and religion, East and West, and it embodies a specific vision of human beings as relational persons constituted by the roles they live rather than as individual selves.

Keywords:   Confucian vision, moral life, Confucianism, role ethics, sui generis

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