Advertisement

Dao

, Volume 12, Issue 3, pp 359–368 | Cite as

Does Zhu Xi Distinguish Prudence from Morality?

  • Justin Tiwald
Article
  • 216 Downloads

Abstract

In Stephen Angle’s Sagehood, he contends that Neo-Confucian philosophers reject ways of moral thinking that draw hard and fast lines between self-directed or prudential concerns (about what is good for me) and other-directed or moral concerns (about what is right, just, virtuous, etc.), and suggests that they are right to do so. In this paper, I spell out Angle’s arguments and interpretation in greater detail and then consider whether they are faithful to one of the chief figures in Neo-Confucian thought. I begin by identifying some of the better-known ways in which moral philosophers give special treatment to prudential considerations, and say which of these Angle’s reading of the Neo-Confucians appears to rule out. After laying this groundwork, I proceed to test Angle’s interpretation against the moral thought of history’s most influential Neo-Confucian philosopher, Zhu Xi 朱熹 (1130-1200), arguing that even on Angle’s own reading, there are certain respects in which Zhu preserves the distinction, although by Angle’s lights these ways are perhaps less pernicious than their contemporary equivalents. I also look closely at how Angle uses the psychological structure of humane love (ren 仁) to undermine the prudence-versus-morality distinction. Here I suggest that the better way to phrase his point is to say that prudence drops out or becomes an ethically incoherent concept, which is something quite different from rejecting or collapsing the distinction between prudence and morality.

Keywords

Neo-Confucianism Zhu Xi Prudence 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Angle, Stephen C. 2009. Sagehood: The Contemporary Significance of Neo-Confucian Philosophy. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  2. _____. 2011. “Reply to Justin Tiwald.” Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 10.2: 237-39.Google Scholar
  3. Chan, Wing-tsit. 1989. C hu Hsi: New Studies. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press.Google Scholar
  4. Cheng, Hao 程顥 and Cheng Yi 程頤. 1981 (2008 reprint). “Surviving Works of the Chengs of Henan” 河南程氏遺書. In The Collected Works of the Two Chengs 二程集. Ed. by Wang Xiaoyu 王孝魚. Beijing 北京: Zhonghua shuju 中華書局, volume 1, 1-349.Google Scholar
  5. Gardner, Daniel K. 1990. Learning to Be a Sage: Selections from the Conversations of Master Chu, Arranged Topically. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  6. Ivanhoe, Philip J. 2002. Ethics in the Confucian Tradition: The Thought of Mengzi and Wang Yangming, second edition. Cambridge: Hackett.Google Scholar
  7. Kant, Immanuel. 1996. “The Metaphysics of Morals.” In Practical Philosophy. Edited and translated by Mary J. Gregor. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Slote, Michael. 2007. The Ethics of Care and Empathy. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  9. Tiwald, Justin. 2011a. “Reply to Stephen Angle.” Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 10.2: 241-43.Google Scholar
  10. _____. 2011b. “Review of Sagehood: The Contemporary Significance of Neo-Confucian Philosophy.” Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 10.2: 231-35.Google Scholar
  11. Wolf, Susan. 1982. “Moral Saints.” Journal of Philosophy 79.8: 419-39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Zhu, Xi 朱熹. 1986. The Classified Sayings of Master Zhu 朱子語類. Beijing 北京: Zhonghua shuju 中華書局.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophySan Francisco State UniversitySan FranciscoUSA

Personalised recommendations