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Confucius' Ideal Person

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What is the ideal person according to Confucius? Include the concepts of ren, li, shu, xiao, and wen.

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Solution Summary

The ideal person according to Confucius is determined.

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The first point is: all people are born good.

Second point: he lived at a time of social turmoil in China c. 500BC. He is, in other words, worried about social reconstruction.


Ren-benevolence; the source and ground of all virtues - dignity of human life. It is, at its most practical, a harmonious social order. It includes all the virtues that are needed for this as our primary end.

Li-benefit; concrete guide; social order - all virtues exist both in themselves and as a part of a social order. This is a big one, since it connects the heavenly to the earthly order. Social order as a reflection of the heavenly, and the relations among people connected to the social order. Hence, it creates a descending ladder. All life is sacred and partakes, in a sense, in a ritual. Nature does this, so should we.

Li is the standard - it is the "connector" that places our will in the context of social life, family life and religious life. These are not really different for him.

Hsiao (xiao): filial piety; reverence - family the unit of society. All is to be grasped in familial-style relationships. Confucius says that this virtue is central - all relationships are seen as familial. He says there is no more important virtue than this.

Chi - natural knowledge of right and wrong. Man is born both social and moral. The notion is that there are inborn moral traits attached to people, the basic content is the social virtues. Remember - there are no "individuals" here - only relationships and virtues that attach to them.

Ti - power of example and ...

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