Caring in Confucian Philosophy



This article examines the intersections of Confucian philosophy and feminist ethics of care. It explains the origins and contribution of care ethics to modern ethical discourse and the controversy that surrounds this ethical theory. The article discusses the emergence of comparative research on the compatibility (or incompatibility) of Confucian ren and feminist care. It first explores the question whether it is philosophically feasible to disassociate Confucian ren from its historical context by deploying it for contemporary feminist debates, especially considering that, strictly speaking, no direct counterpart in the original Confucian texts is an exact match to the words ‘care’ or ‘caring’. Following this exploration, the article investigates what ren is and whether Confucian ren is feminist care, what the ‘No Exit’ Objection and the ‘Domesticity’ Objection are, and how ren or caring in Confucian philosophy can answer these objections. The article concludes with an affirmation of the social transformative power of ren and its feminist potential.