Reframing Confucianism Epistemology: Exemplarist morality in the Confucian Analects

Minghao Li

Abstract


This essay includes three sections that examine the embodiment of the modern analytic structure of exemplarist epistemology in The Analects and whether it is appropriate to state that the foundation of The Analects is rooted in this epistemology. A general introduction of The Analects is given at the beginning of section one, which provides the historical context of The Analect’s creation and the central ideas present in The Analects, such as Ren and Li. The first and second sections of this essay argue that exemplarist epistemology is presented in The Analects both substantively and procedurally. The third and last section of this essay discusses that while it is reasonable to apply such an epistemology to understand the ideas of The Analects, it does not imply that The Analects was an exemplarist text itself or such an epistemology was the purpose of The Analect’s creation. This is mainly due to the lack of analytic philosophical structure in the time of The Analect’s writing. In fact, the historical purpose behind writing The Analects and the numerous contents in the text go against the epistemology model of exemplarism. The English translation of The Analects was used to find primary source excerpts. In addition, the book Exemplarist Moral Theory by Linda Zagzebski, the essay Dreaming of the Duke of Zhou by Olberding, and the essay Imagining Confucius: Paradigmatic Characters and Virtue Ethics by Sor-hoon Tan were used as critical reference sources on the definition of exemplarist epistemology and its application in The Analects, respectively.


Keywords


Chinese Philosophy, Analects, Confucius, Exemplarism, epistemology

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References


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.18533/journal.v9i9.1916

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