Advertisement

Dao

, Volume 13, Issue 1, pp 1–21 | Cite as

Role Ethics or Ethics of Role-Play? A Comparative Critical Analysis of the Ethics of Confucianism and the Bhagavad Gītā

  • Geoffrey AshtonEmail author
Article
  • 301 Downloads

Abstract

Both Confucianism and the Bhagavad Gītā emphasize the moral authority of social roles. But how deep does the likeness between these ethical philosophies run? In this essay I focus upon two significant points of comparison between the role-based ethics of Confucianism and the Gītā: (1) the interrelation between formalized social roles and family feeling, and (2) the religious dimension of moral action. How is it that Confucians ground their social roles in family feeling, while the Gītā emphasizes rupture between role and sentiment? Furthermore, are we to understand Confucianism as presenting a social philosophy that eschews religious concerns, whereas the Gītā denies the moral significance of family feeling in lieu of obtaining soteriological freedom? Examining the aesthetic and religious dimensions of the ethics of Confucianism and the Gītā clarifies a key distinction that both views implicitly make, albeit for divergent reasons: the difference between living one’s roles and playing one’s roles.

Keywords

Role ethics Family feeling Sincerity Role-play 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Adarkar, Aditya. 2001. “Karna in the Mahābhārata.” Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Chicago.Google Scholar
  2. Ames, Roger T. 2011. Confucian Role Ethics: A Vocabulary. Hong Kong: The Chinese University Press.Google Scholar
  3. _____, and Henry Rosemont, Jr., trans. 1999. The Analects of Confucius: A Philosophical Translation. New York: The Ballantine Publishing Group.Google Scholar
  4. Ashton, Geoffrey R. 2013. “The Soteriology of Role-Play in the Bhagavad Gītā.” Asian Philosophy 23: 1–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bodde, Derk. 1953. “Harmony and Conflict in Chinese Philosophy.” In Studies in Chinese Thought, edited by Arthur Wright. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  6. Cahill, James F. 1975. “Confucian Elements in the Theory of Painting.” In Confucianism and Chinese Civilization, edited by Arthur Wright. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Gitomer, David. 1992. “King Duryodhana: The Mahābhārata Discourse of Sinning and Virtue in Epic and Drama.” Journal of the American Oriental Society 112: 222–232.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Legge, James, trans. 1861. The Chinese Classics, vol. I. London: Trubner and Co.Google Scholar
  9. Patton, Laurie, trans. 2008. The Bhagavad Gītā. London: Penguin.Google Scholar
  10. Potter, Karl. 1992. Presuppositions of India’s Philosophies. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass.Google Scholar
  11. Radhakrishnan, Sarvepalli, and Charles Moore. 1957. A Sourcebook in Indian Philosophy. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  12. Rosemont, Jr., Henry, and Roger T. Ames, trans. 2009. The Chinese Classic of Family Reverence: A Philosophical Translation of the Xiaojing. Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of ColoradoColorado SpringsUSA

Personalised recommendations