, Volume 5, Issue 4, pp 506-522
Date: 01 Dec 2010

Reproduction, familiarity, love, and humaneness: How did confucius reveal “humaneness”?

Abstract

This article draws out the subtle connections among the various sorts of categories—“sheng 生 (reproduction),” “qin 亲 (familiarity),” “ai 爱 (love),” and “ren 仁 (humaneness)”—focusing on the following: Confucius found the original significance of “reproduction” to be sympathy between males and females, and upon further study he found it extended to the.affinity of blood relations, namely “familiarity.” From “familiarity” he came to understand “love” that one generates and has for people and things beyond one’s blood relations, in other words, the empathic heart or the feeling of empathy itself. From here he anticipated rende 仁德 (the humane and virtuous) level of “fan’ai zhong 泛爱众 (universal love for all people)” or “fan’ai wanwu 泛爱万物 (universal love for all creatures).” The article further makes the point that in order to meet the conditions for the perfection of “humaneness” which has neither any excesses nor any deficiencies, Confucius ultimately developed a means, that is, “the golden mean,” which indicates that his ancient understanding of life and growth produced in Confucius a profound shift in the focus of human concern from “ming 命 (fate)” to “Dao 道 (the Way).”

Translated by Ian M. Sullivan from Zhexue Dongtai 哲学动态 (Philosophical Trends), 2009, (3): 80–85