Seek and You Will Find It; Let Go and You Will Lose It: Exploring a Confucian Approach to Human Dignity

Abstract

While the concept of Menschenwürde (universal human dignity) has served as the foundation for human rights, it is absent in the Confucian tradition. However, this does not mean that Confucianism has no resources for a broadly construed notion of human dignity. Beginning with two underlying dilemmas in the notion of Menschenwürde and explaining how Confucianism is able to avoid them, this essay articulates numerous unique features of a Confucian account of human dignity, and shows that the Confucian account goes beyond the limitations of Menschenwürde. It is arguably richer and more sophisticated in content, and more constructive for protecting and cultivating human dignity.

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Correspondence to Peimin Ni.

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Ni, P. Seek and You Will Find It; Let Go and You Will Lose It: Exploring a Confucian Approach to Human Dignity. Dao 13, 173–198 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11712-014-9381-2

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Keywords

  • Human dignity
  • Confucianism
  • Universalism
  • Human rights
  • Human nature