Confucianism and the Philosophy of Well-Being: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Confucianism and the Philosophy of Well-Being

1st Edition

By Richard Kim


128 pages

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Hardback: 9781138037922
pub: 2020-02-01
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Well-being is topic of perennial concern. It has been of significant interest to scholars across disciplines, culture, and time. But like morality, conceptions of well-being are deeply shaped and influenced by one’s particular social and cultural context. We ought to pursue, therefore, a cross-cultural understanding of well-being and moral psychology by taking seriously reflections from a variety of moral traditions.

This book develops a Confucian account of well-being, considering contemporary accounts of ethics and virtue in light of early Confucian thought and philosophy. Its distinctive approach lies in the integration of Confucian moral philosophy, contemporary empirical psychology, and contemporary philosophical accounts of well-being.

Richard Kim organises the book around four main areas: the conception of virtue in early Confucianism and the way that they advance both individual and communal well-being; the role of Confucian ritual practices in familial and communal ties; the developmental structure of human life and its culmination in the achievement of sagehood; and the sense of joy that the early Confucians believed were central to the virtuous and happy life.


"Richard Kim’s book offers a pithy introduction to how Confucianism contributes to thinking about the good life for us now. I came away convinced that there are universal features of well-being, and also that some things that make a life good depend on one’s stage in life, and the particulars of one’s culture. Well-written and extremely accessible." - Owen Flanagan, Duke University, USA. Author of 'The Geography of Morals: Varieties of Moral Possibility'

"At long last, we have a sophisticated and systematic account of early Confucian views on well-being and its relations to ethics. Kim's book is the best on these subjects. He offers a sympathetic and plausible exposition of early Confucianism and makes compelling arguments for an account of well-being that is holistic and developmental, and he paints a very appealing portrait of what he calls 'ethical equanimity', which is one of Confucianism's distinctive contributions to philosophical reflection on well-being and the good life." - Justin Tiwald, San Francisco State University, USA

"Richard Kim’s book is a superb introduction to the Confucian conception of human well-being embedded in the thought of Confucius, Mencius, and Xunzi. His advocacy of a Confucian approach to well-being, admirable for its clarity, is informed by his familiarity with the best scholarship on Confucianism, recent empirical research on moral development, and contemporary philosophical theories of prudential value." - Richard Kraut, Northwestern University, USA

Table of Contents


1. Concept, Theory, and Framework

2. Confucian Moral Psychology and Well-Being

3. Confucian Virtue

4. Family and Well-Being

5. Joy and Equanimity: The Happy Sage

6. Conclusion.



About the Author

Richard Kim is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Loyola University Chicago, USA.

About the Series

Routledge Focus on Philosophy

Routledge Focus on Philosophy is an exciting and innovative new series, capturing and disseminating some of the best and most exciting new research in philosophy in short book form. Peer reviewed and at a maximum of fifty thousand words shorter than the typical research monograph, Routledge Focus on Philosophy titles are available in both ebook and print on demand format. Tackling big topics in a digestible format the series opens up important philosophical research for a wider audience, and as such is invaluable reading for the scholar, researcher and student seeking to keep their finger on the pulse of the discipline. The series also reflects the growing interdisciplinarity within philosophy and will be of interest to those in related disciplines across the humanities and social sciences.

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