, Volume 6, Issue 1, pp 1–19 | Cite as

Special Topic: Filial Piety: The Root of Morality or the Source of Corruption?

Confucianism and Corruption: An Analysis of Shun’s Two Actions Described by Mencius
Special Topic


Confucianism advocates the lofty moral ideal of “humane love” (ren ai 仁愛) and condemns immoral actions. Strangely enough, however, Mencius, a “paradigmatic Confucian intellectual” who believed that “a true man cannot be corrupted by wealth, subdued by power, or affected by poverty” (Tu 1989a: 15), highly commended such typically corrupt actions as bending the law for the benefit of relatives or appointing people by mere nepotism when he talked about Shun 舜 in the text of the Mencius. In the first four sections of this article, I will address the issue of how Confucianism encourages a special kind of corruption through its fundamentally consanguineous affection. Then, in the remaining sections, I will try to respond to some criticisms of my views by a few Chinese scholars.


Confucianism Consanguineous affection Corruption Nepotism 


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© Springer Science + Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Research Center for Value and CultureBeijing Normal UniversityBeijingChina

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