Dao

, Volume 9, Issue 3, pp 257–274

On “Trust and Being True”: Toward a Genealogy of Morals

Open Access
Article
  • 547 Downloads

Abstract

This Nietzschesque “genealogy of morals” presents the Confucian virtue of xin (trust and true) so basic to friendship as a civic virtue rooted among social equals. Among non-equals, a servant has to prove his trustworthiness but not yet vice versa. The script 信 (xin) tells of living up to one’s words. Yanxing 言行 (speech and action) describes actively keeping a verbal promise. The Agrarian school endorses xin as the primary virtue in its utopia of virtual equals. It knew oral trust and had no use for written covenants. In debating Mencius, Gaozi kept to that earlier primacy granted public speech as tied to one’s social reputation. Mencius turned inward and elevated mind as the inner good of moral intent instead. In the Doctrine of the Mean, inner xin would expand outward into becoming the ultimate truth, the sincerity of Heaven and Earth. The essay ends on an aside on the case of the Cretan Liar.

Keywords

Trust and true Gaozi Mencius The Cretan Liar 

References

  1. Brooks, Bruce and Taeko Brooks. 1998. The Original Confucius: Sayings of Confucius and his Successors. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Eno, Robert. 1990. The Confucian Creation of Heaven. Albany, NY: SUNY.Google Scholar
  3. Fingarette, Herbert. 1972. Confucius: The Sacred as Secular. New York: Harper Torchbook.Google Scholar
  4. Gellner, Ernest. 1988. Plough, Sword and Book: The Structure of Human Culture. London: Collin Harvill.Google Scholar
  5. Graham, A. C. 1989. Disputers of the Tao. La Salle, Illinois: Open Court.Google Scholar
  6. Lai, Whalen. 1984. “Kao-tzu and Mencius on Mind: Analyzing a Platonic Shift in Classical China.” Philosophy East and West 34.2: 147-160.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. _____. 1986. “Yung [Courage] and the Tradition of the Shih.” Religious Studies 21: 181-203.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. _____. 1990. “Rectifying the Theory of the ‘Rectification of Names’.” Journal of Humanism and Ethical Religion 3.1: 124-140.Google Scholar
  9. _____. 1995. “The Public Good that Does the Public Good: A New Reading of Mohism.” Asian Philosophy 3.2: 125-142.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. _____. 1996. “Friendship in Confucian China.” In Friendship: East and West. Ed. by Oliver Leaman. London: Curzon.Google Scholar
  11. Li, Dun J. ed. 1967. The Essence of Chinese Civilization. New York: D. van Nostrand Company.Google Scholar
  12. Mair, Victor, trans. 1994. Wandering on the Way (Chuang-tzu). New York: Bantam Books.Google Scholar
  13. WSW (Warring States Workshop). http://groups.yahoo.com/group/wsw/messages.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Religious StudiesUniversity of California DavisDavisUSA

Personalised recommendations