, Volume 6, Issue 3, pp 211–220

Heaven as a Source for Ethical Warrant in Early Confucianism


    • Department of Public and Social AdministrationCity University of Hong Kong

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.


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© Springer Science + Business Media B.V. 2007