, Volume 6, Issue 3, pp 211–220

Heaven as a Source for Ethical Warrant in Early Confucianism


DOI: 10.1007/s11712-007-9013-1

Cite this article as:
Ivanhoe, P.J. Dao (2007) 6: 211. doi:10.1007/s11712-007-9013-1


Contrary to what several prominent scholars contend, a number of important early Confucians ground their ethical claims by appealing to the authority of tian, Heaven, insisting that Heaven endows human beings with a distinctive ethical nature and at times acts in the world. This essay describes the nature of such appeals in two early Confucian texts: the Lunyu (Analects) and Mengzi (Mencius). It locates this account within a larger narrative that begins with some of the earliest conceptions of a supreme deity in China. The essay concludes by noting some similarities and differences between these early Confucian accounts and more familiar views commonly shared by monotheists.


Confucianism Kongzi Mengzi Heaven Morality 

Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Public and Social AdministrationCity University of Hong KongKowloon TongHong Kong

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