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Frontiers of Philosophy in China

Front. Philos. China    2018, Vol. 13 Issue (2) : 217-231
Orginal Article |
Confucian Ethics: Altruistic? Egoistic? Both? Neither?
HUANG Yong()
Department of Philosophy, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, NT, Hong Kong, China
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Is Confucian ethics primarily egoistic or altruistic? There is textual support for both answers. For the former, for example, Confucius claims that one learns for the sake of oneself; for the latter, we can find Confucius saying that one ought to not impose upon others as one would not like to be imposed upon. This essay aims to explain in what sense Confucian ethics is egoistic (the highest goal one aims to reach is to become a virtuous person oneself) and in what sense it is altruistic (a virtuous person is necessarily concerned with the well-being, both external and internal, of others). The conclusion to be drawn, however, is not that Confucian ethics is both egoistic and altruistic, but that it is neither, since the Confucian ideal of a virtuous person is to be in one body with others so that there are really no others (since all others become part of myself), and since there are no others, there is no self either.

Keywords Confucius      Analects      Egoism      Altruism      Ethics     
Issue Date: 28 June 2018
 Cite this article:   
HUANG Yong. Confucian Ethics: Altruistic? Egoistic? Both? Neither?[J]. Front. Philos. China, 2018, 13(2): 217-231.
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