The Ethics of Confucius and Aristotle : Mirrors of Virtue book cover
1st Edition

The Ethics of Confucius and Aristotle
Mirrors of Virtue

ISBN 9780415803052
Published June 16, 2009 by Routledge
292 Pages

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Book Description

As a comparative study of the virtue ethics of Aristotle and Confucius, this book explores how they each reflect upon human good and virtue out of their respective cultural assumptions, conceptual frameworks, and philosophical perspectives.  It does not simply take one side as a framework to understand the other; rather, it takes them as mirrors for each other and seeks to develop new readings and perspectives of both ethics that would be unattainable if each were studied on its own.

Table of Contents




  1. Two Revivals
  2. The Meaning of Comparison
  3. The Possibility of Comparison
  4. The Nature of Ethical Argument
  5. The Scope of Comparison
  6. The Structure of the Book

Chapter I Eudaimonia, Dao, and Virtue

  1. Eudaimonia and Dao
  2. Virtue: Arete and De
  3. De and Ren
  4. The Beginning of Ethics
  5. Doing Ethics and Being Pious
  6. The Paths of Ethics

Chapter II Humanity: Xing and Ergon

  1. Human Nature and Humanity
  2. Human Function and Human Good Nature
  3. Humanity as the Foundation of Ethics
  4. Justifying the Existence of Humanity
  5. Actualization of Humanity
  6. From Humanity to Virtue

Chapter III Virtue, Mean and Disposition

1. The Mean: Inner and Outer

2. Hitting the Mean

3. The Inner Mean

4. Disposition and Second Nature

5. The Components of the Mean Disposition

Chapter IV Habituation and Ritualization

1. Social Values: li and ethos

2. Political Animal and the Relational Self

3. Nature and Cultivation

4. Family and Virtue

5. Politics and Virtue

6. Virtue and the Liberal Values

Chapter V Emotion and Reason

1. Emotion and Virtue

2. Moral Wisdom: phronesis and yi

3. Moral Wisdom and Traditional Value

4. Moral Wisdom and Emotion

5. Reasoning for Action and Moral Particularism

6. Virtue and Virtues

Chapter VI Virtue, Activity, and the Actualization of Humanity

1. Virtue, Activity and Happiness

2. Contemplation and Self-Completion (Cheng)

3. Being One with God and Being One with Heaven

4. External Goods

5. The Value of Having Virtue

Chapter VII The Practical and the Contemplative

1. Contemplative Activity and Contemplative Life

2. Self and Self-actualization

3. Self and the Others

4. The Value of Contemplation



Greek Glossary

Chinese Glossary

Subject Index

Name Index

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Jiyuan Yu is Associate Professor at the Department of Philosophy, State University of New York at Buffalo. He is author of The Structure of being in Aristotle's Metaphysics, co-author (with Nick Bunnin) of The Blackwell Dictionary of Western Philosophy, and co-editor (with Jorge Gracia) of Rationality and Happiness and Uses and Abuses of the Classics.


"[T]his is a very valuable volume.  It is a rich and textually grounded discussion of these two thinkers.  It is an illuminating account of the parallels and divergences between them." -- Brad Wilburn, Chadron State College, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 

"Yu's book is the best book on comparative philosophy I have ever read. He has proposed a creative methodology and he applies his expert knowledge of Greek and Chinese philosophy with great care and insight. I recommend this book without reservation." -- Nicholas F. Gier, University of Idaho, Journal of Chinese Philosophy