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Frontiers of Philosophy in China

Front. Philos. China    2019, Vol. 14 Issue (2) : 226-247     https://doi.org/10.3868/s030-008-019-0014-4
SPECIAL THEME
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)
Michele Ferrero()
International Institute of Chinese Studies, Beijing Foreign Studies University, Beijing 100089, China
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Abstract

The True Meaning of the Lord of Heaven (Tianzhu Shiyi 天主實義) is a Chinese text of the 17th century written by the Italian sinologist and missionary Matteo Ricci. It contains, among other topics, a discussion between a Confucian scholar and a Christian about the motivation to act. For Confucianism a good action should be performed for its own sake, without any thought of future reward. For Christianity it seems that good actions are performed in order to go to Heaven. Ricci argues that human actions are complex. The ultimate motivation for goodness comes from a relation with God. The Confucian scholar claims that actually not all actions need a motive. Sometimes things “just happen.” Also, a good tradition can move people to behave properly. Dealing with topics such as soul, eternal life, causes, descendants, tradition, happiness and proper behavior, this dialogue offers a great insight of the meeting of two great traditions: Confucianism and Christianity.

Keywords moral motivation      Confucianism      Matteo Ricci      soul     
Issue Date: 15 July 2019
 Cite this article:   
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.
 URL:  
http://journal.hep.com.cn/fpc/EN/10.3868/s030-008-019-0014-4
http://journal.hep.com.cn/fpc/EN/Y2019/V14/I2/226
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