Please wait a minute...

Frontiers of Philosophy in China

Front. Philos. China    2020, Vol. 15 Issue (1) : 7-28
Toward a Confucian Notion of Human Dignity
WANG Xiaowei()
School of Philosophy, Renmin University of China, Beijing 100872, China
Download: PDF(306 KB)  
Export: BibTeX | EndNote | Reference Manager | ProCite | RefWorks

This essay discusses the possibility of conceptualizing a Confucian notion of human dignity. Previous discussions on this topic have been either historical or reconstructive, the former discussing mainly how Confucianism considers dignity and the latter exploring the possibility of conceptualizing a Confucian human dignity as an alternative to Kant’s Menschenwürde. This essay focuses on mainly the latter effort. Specifically, I critically evaluate professor Ni Peimin’s celebrated attempt at reconstructing Confucian dignity in the context of Kant’s Menschenwürde, arguing that Ni’s work offers us novel and original insights on human dignity but fails to be coherent in several senses. On the other hand, Kant’s Menschenwürde may well lack motivation in particular circumstances, and gives no credit to moral efforts. Building upon this criticism, I further Ni’s discussion of the “four hearts” and propose a revised version of Confucian dignity.

Keywords human dignity      Confucianism      Menschenwürde      four hearts     
Issue Date: 31 March 2020
 Cite this article:   
WANG Xiaowei. Toward a Confucian Notion of Human Dignity[J]. Front. Philos. China, 2020, 15(1): 7-28.
E-mail this article
E-mail Alert
Articles by authors
WANG Xiaowei
Related articles from Frontiers Journals
[1] TENG Fei. Joining the Transformation of Nature—The Post-Natural and Confucian Perspective on Earth Stewardship in the Anthropocene[J]. Front. Philos. China, 2020, 15(1): 53-72.
[2] NI Peimin. How Is the Kantian or Confucian Metaphysics Applicable to Human Dignity—Response to Wang Xiaowei[J]. Front. Philos. China, 2020, 15(1): 29-35.
[3] Henrique Schneider. Tricking or Benefitting the People? Guanzi on Objective Government and Subjective Preferences[J]. Front. Philos. China, 2019, 14(3): 363-383.
[4] Michele Ferrero. Motivation to Act in Confucianism and Christianity: In Matteo Ricci’s The True Meaning of the Lord of Heaven (Tianzhu Shiyi 天主實義)[J]. Front. Philos. China, 2019, 14(2): 226-247.
[5] Yoshimi Orii. The Limits of a Confrontational Approach: Fabian Fukansai’s Critiques of Neo-Confucianism and Christianity[J]. Front. Philos. China, 2019, 14(2): 181-200.
[6] XU Keqian. A Contemporary Re-Examination of Confucian Li 禮 and Human Dignity[J]. Front. Philos. China, 2018, 13(3): 449-464.
[7] NI Peimin. Toward a Gongfu Reconstruction of Confucianism —Responses to Comments by Huang Yong, Fan Ruiping, and Wang Qingjie[J]. Front. Philos. China, 2018, 13(2): 240-253.
[8] PENG Guoxiang. Contemporary Chinese Philosophy in the Chinese-Speaking World: An Overview[J]. Front. Philos. China, 2018, 13(1): 91-119.
[9] Ady Van Den Stock. The Semantics of Wisdom in the Philosophy of Tang Junyi: Between Transformative Knowledge and Transcendental Reflexivity[J]. Front. Philos. China, 2018, 13(1): 39-54.
[10] Alicia Hennig. Three Different Approaches to Virtue in Business- Aristotle, Confucius, and Lao Zi[J]. Front. Philos. China, 2016, 11(4): 556-586.
[11] TAN Mingran. The Problem of Confucian Moral Cultivation and Its Solution: Using Ritual Propriety to Support Rule by Law[J]. Front. Philos. China, 2016, 11(1): 88-103.
[12] LAN Fei. Humanity and Paternal Eros: The Father-Son Relationship in Comparative Perspective[J]. Front. Philos. China, 2015, 10(4): 629-646.
[13] Richard Shusterman. Somaesthetics and Chinese Philosophy: Between Unity and Pragmatist Pluralism[J]. Front. Philos. China, 2015, 10(2): 201-211.
[14] YAO Xinzhong. An Eco-Ethical Interpretation of Confucian Tianren Heyi[J]. Front. Philos. China, 2014, 9(4): 570-585.
[15] Jung-Yeup Kim. Confucian Ethical Practice as a Method of Creating and Sustaining Whiteheadian Beauty[J]. Front. Philos. China, 2014, 9(2): 318-328.
Full text