The Way of Harmony in the Four Books


  • Xinzhong Yao

    Corresponding author
    1. Renmin University of China, Beijing, China
    2. King's College London, London, United Kingdom
    • XINZHONG YAO, Professor, School of Philosophy, Renmin University of China; Director, Lau China Institute, King's College London. Specialties: ethics, religious studies, comparative philosophy. E-mail:

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This article is to examine the way of harmony that is initiated in the Analects of Confucius, and further elaborated in the other three of the Four Books. It will argue that the Confucian harmony is a philosophy defining the relation between the self and the other and among the elements of the unity, that it is a way of living and behaving that leads to modesty and flexibility, and that it is a moral process starting from the self and reaching the Middle Way. It concludes that the way of harmony is not only theoretically important for Confucian philosophy but also practically significant for Chinese culture because it later became central to the doctrinal foundation on which all philosophical schools operated.