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Reconsidering Ren as Virtue and Benevolence

Authors


GEORGE RUDEBUSCH, Professor, Department of Philosophy, Northern Arizona University. Specialty: ancient philosophy. E-mail: ghr@nau.edu

Abstract

One reason why Confucius is preeminent among Chinese philosophers is his teaching about ren 仁. Interpreters have said many different things about ren, yet two basic assumptions are pervasive: that ren is a virtue and that ren is benevolence. I argue that it is more respectful to the text of the Analects to discard both assumptions. Instead of virtue, ren is a priority in one's motives. Instead of benevolence, ren is humane courtesy.

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