Tuesday, December 19, 2006



Wuqing



Many people consider Zhuangzi, the great Daoism philosopher, as an utterly free but cold person. This is largely because of his claim of wuqing. Yet to understand Zhuangzi’s wuqing simply as “without feelings, emotions or passions” is superficial and it’s far from his true intent. Zhuangzi, as I understand him, also has feelings about human life, but he is alert to the possible harm qing could do to his body, which is given by tian, therefore, he tries to use li () to free himself from it.

One reason account for Zhuangzi’s content of wuqing is that you (being, existing) and wu (non-being, non-existing), sheng (living) and si (dead) are the same; they are bound together in an interchanging circle.


When Chuang Tzu's wife dies, Hui Tzu went to condole. He found the widower sitting on the ground, singing, with his legs spread out at a right angle, and beating time on a bowl.

'To live with your wife', exclaimed Hui Tzu, 'and see your eldest son grow up to be a man, and then not to shed a tear over her corpse, this would be bad enough. But to drum on a bowl, and sing; surely this is going too far.'

'Not at all', replied Chuang Tzu. 'When she died, I could not help being affected by her death. Soon, however, I remembered that she had already existed in a previous state before birth, without form, or even substance; that while in that unconditioned condition, substance was added to spirit; that this substance then assumed form; and that the next stage was birth. And now, by virtue of a further change, she is dead, passing from one phase to another like the sequence of spring, summer, autumn, and winter. And while she is thus lying asleep in Eternity, for me to go about weeping and wailing would be to proclaim myself ignorant of these natural laws. Therefore I refrain.' 1

Here Huishi represents the conventional perception of life and death, that life is something to be cherished and death is something to be mourned. On the contrary, Zhuangzi views death from a position higher than conventional emotions, appearing calm and rational. In Zhuangzi, the boundary between life and death doesn’t exist for they are forever transforming from one to another just like the sequence of spring, summer, autumn, and winter. Many critics have opposed Zhuangzi on this point, for instance, in the Preface of The Orchid Pavilion, the great writer, XiZhi Wang writes: “Well I know it is a lie to say that life and death are the same thing, and that longevity and early death make no difference!” 2

In a passage where Zhuangzi mentions the forms of qing: “Joy and anger, sadness and pleasure, anticipation and regret, fickleness and fixedness, vehemence and indolence, eagerness and tardiness”, he says: “(all these moods), like music from an empty tube, or mushrooms from the warm moisture, day and night succeed to one another and come before us, and we do not know whence they sprout. Let us stop! Let us stop! Can we expect to find out suddenly how they are produced?” It seems that qing to Zhuangzi is vague and traceless. He goes on to say that “It might seem as if there would be a true Governor concerned in it, but we do not find any trace (of his presence and acting). That such an One could act so I believe; but we do not see His form. He has affections, but He has no form.” 3This true Governor who has affection but no form appears to me as natural alterations in moods and feelings.

But when it comes to the sage, Zhuangzi contents that “He has the bodily form of man, but not the passions and desires of (other) men” because “The sagely man lays no plans;-- of what use would wisdom be to him? He has no cutting and hacking to do;-- of what use would glue be to him? He has lost nothing;-- of what use would arts of intercourse be to him? He has no goods to dispose of;-- what need has he to play the merchant? (The want of) these four things are the nourishment of (his) Heavenly (nature); that nourishment is its Heavenly food. Since he receives this food from Heaven, what need has he for anything of man's (devising)?”4 And as a result of not having the feelings of a man, “right and wrong cannot get at him.”5 Here we could see the notion of “right and wrong” (shi/fei) is brought up the table. It seems that the virtue of being without feelings is that people are excluded from the troubles of shi/fei . This connection between shi/fei and qing is clearer stated in the following text:


Hui Tzu said to Chuang Tzu, "Can a man really be without feelings?"

Chuang Tzu: "Yes."

Hui Tzu: "But a man who has no feelings-how can you call him a man?"

Chuang Tzu: "The Way gave him a face; Heaven gave him a form - why can't you call him a man?"

Hui Tzu: "But if you've already called him a man, how can he be without feelings?"

Chuang Tzu: "That's not what I mean by feelings. When I talk about having no feelings, I mean that a man doesn't allow likes or dislikes to get in and do him harm. He just lets things be the way they are and doesn't try to help life along."

Hui Tzu: "If he doesn't try to help life along, then how can he keep himself alive?"

Chuang Tzu: "The Way gave him a face; Heaven gave him a form. He doesn't let likes or dislikes get in and do him harm. You, now - you treat your spirit like an outsider. You wear out your energy, leaning on a tree and moaning, slumping at your desk and dozing - Heaven picked out a body for you and you use it to gibber about `hard' and `white'!" 6


In this passage, Zhuangzi’s recognition of the ability of distinguish shi/fei as the unique character of human beings seems to resonate with the teachings of Mencius and Xunzi. As Xunzi says: “[A human being] is not as strong as the ox, nor as swift as the horse, and yet he makes the ox and the horse work for him. Why? Because he is able to organize himself in society and they are not. Why is he able to organize himself in society? Because he sets up hierarchical distinctions” 7However, Zhuangzi’s attitude towards this ability are almost exactly the opposite of these held by the other Confucian philosophers. In another word, while Mencius and Xunzi advocate this ability of mankind, saying man should exercise it to a full extent in order to be a complete human being, Zhuangzi preaches that it is exactly the ability one should do without. Because it seems that the other Confucian philosophers’ goal is to be make the full use of the capacities of human, to be as human as possible, the goal of Zhuangzi is to be a sage, which is as far from human and conventional life as possible. Just as Slingerland says, “Indeed, the tendency to fall under the sway of shi/fei distinctions seems to Zhuangzi to be a deeply rooted human disposition: he refers to it as the ‘essence’ (qing) of human beings (i.e. that which distinguishes human beings from other living beings), and describes it as something that the Daoist sage must learn to do without”.8

So according to Zhuangzi, how should we lead our lives? Zhuangzi hasn’t provide us with a straight forward answer, because to do so means he has to dictate some doctrine or principle upon people, telling them shi/fei, which runs into contrary with the Daoism principle that everything revolves in a cycle. So what Zhuangzi does is to give us a description of a person who leads a life he advocates. Zhuangzi says: “The True men of old knew nothing of the love of life or of the hatred of death. Entrance into life occasioned them no joy; the exit from it awakened no resistance. Composedly they went and came. They did not forget what their beginning bad been, and they did not inquire into what their end would be. They accepted (their life) and rejoiced in it; they forgot (all fear of death), and returned (to their state before life).” And the result of this is that in those people there are “what is called the want of any mind to resist the Tâo, and of all attempts by means of the Human to assist the Heavenly”.9

This shows a picture of a truly free man, who has reached a state of which Zhuangzi calls xiao yao. Such a man is wuqing. Since the boundaries of men are created by his surroundings, by being wuqing, not caring about the surroundings, the True men can do anything he wants and are not bound to the conventional principles, or restricted by shi/fei. Wuqing means he has no desires, feelings, attitudes, or positions. He would not argue with people and he would not be argued against. He doesn’t care other people’s opinions to him, thus he could be truly independent in his conducting and thinking. This “advice seems unable to conform to the actual human situation. One may push a bit further in interpretation: If one follows Zhuangzi’s advice and abandons his existing desires, feelings, and ideas, he then no longer insists on any certain thing. As a consequence, he enters a field in which his current ideas, attitudes, and positions will lose control of him. Such a release will enable him to transform into a stage of life containing new ideas, attitudes, and positions.”10

It seems that Zhuangzi endorses a kind of disconnectedness with one’s surroundings and that he tents to cut off one’s relationships with the outside, however, it is not the case. The purpose of wuqing is not wuqing itself, but to avoid hurting one’s body which is given by the heaven and considered “true” (zhen). He contents that one should use li to reform qing and let qing follow li. Wangbi, a great scholar of the Wei Era, best describes this idea of wuqing: “conforms to subjects but not to be burdened by them” (應物而不纍於物).

Digging into the bottom of Zhuangzi’s idea of wuqing, we could see that it actually comes from the notion of “one and thousand as the same” (齐一万物)and “life and death as the same” (混同生死), which rooted in the Daoism philosophy as early as Laozi.

This reminds me of what is said in the Daodejing about the heaven and earth being wu qing ( or as later found in earlier text as bu ren ): “Heaven and earth do not act from (the impulse of) any wish to be benevolent; they deal with all things as the dogs of grass are dealt with. The sages do not act from (any wish to be) benevolent; they deal with the people as the dogs of grass are dealt with.”11 As Roger Ames comments: “Repeatedly the Daodejing expresses a fascination for the way in which an indeterminate source spontaneously and inexhaustibly gives rise to the provisionally determinate phenomena that we experience around us… Rather than relying upon externally acquired and often ineffectual learning, we should look to this inner source.”12


1 Chuang Tzu. Chuang Tzu. Translated by Herbert A. Giles. First edition, 1889; second edition, 1923. Chapter 18

2 Yutang, L., 1998. The Importance of Living. City: Perennial Currents. Xizhi Wang, Translated from The Orchid Pavilion by Yutang Lin

3 James Legge, The Writings of Chuang Tzu, Julian Press (1959). Khî Wû Lun, or 'The Adjustment of Controversies.'

4 Ibid. Teh Khung Fû, or 'The Seal of Virtue Complete.'

5 Watson, Burton. Basic Writings of Chuang Tzu. New York: Columbia University Press, 1996. The Sign of Virtue Complete

6 Ibid. The Sign of Virtue Complete)

7 Hs ̈un Tzu: Basic Writings. Translated by Burton Watson. New York: Columbia University Press. 1963. 45

8 Edward Slingerland. Effortless Action: Wu-wei As Conceptual Metaphor and Spiritual Ideal in Early China. Oxford University Press, USA, 2006. P286

9 James Legge, The Writings of Chuang Tzu, Julian Press (1959). Tâ Tsung Shih, or 'The Great and Most Honoured Master.'

10 Wenyu Xie, Approaching the Dao: From Lao Zi to Zhuang Zi, Journal of Chinese Philosophy Volume 27, Issue 4, Page 469-488, Dec 2000

11 Lao-Tse, The Tao Teh King [Daodejing], Or The Tao And Its Characteristics . Translated by James Legge. Chapter 5

12 Ames, Roger and Henry Rosemont. Daodejing “Making This Life Significant”. New York: Ballantine Books/Ballantine Pub. Group, 2003. 25


Tuesday, December 12, 2006


Walking Towards the Horizon


To translate the title Daodejing, one must first have a basic understanding of the book itself. The discussion in the book could roughly be divided into two parts: one about dao, and one about de. While there are hundreds of different translations of the book, people’s translations of dao are more or less the same: many as “way, path, etc”, most just leave it alone. Many scholars, however, disagree on the translation of de. So my first attempt to translate the title is by rendering a felicitous translation of de. But I failed because as I was looking for evidences in the book to support my translation I find it impossible to discuss, let alone having a clear understanding of, de without looking at it along with “dao, wuwei, wuming”. In the same way, it is impossible to discuss any of the other three terms without viewing the rest.

While it is difficult to give a translation straight away, it is relatively clear to me what kind of ideas I want to convey in my translation. First, the dao should be a word that could be used both as a verb and a noun. Second, the direction of the dao should be toward something good and grand. Because no matter how de is translated, it could by no means be defined as vice or evil. And since the book mainly talks about cosmos and governing, the dao should be broad enough to carry tian. Third, the approach to dao and de is natural/ spontaneous and noncoercive. Fourth, the title should suggest a sense of continuity and transforming. The former two is easy to accomplish in a translation, whereas it is difficult to find the English equivalency of dao and de that can express the meaning of both naturalness and transforming.

Eventually, I came up the translation “Walking Towards the Horizon”. This is by no means the best translation, however, I believe it is a more expressive translation than most other ones.

Walking” gives a sense of spontaneous progressing, and it constant with one meaning of dao as road. “Towards” gives a sense of direction, suggesting it’s moving along the direction to something good. The word “horizon” is far from what generally held as de, but I think it is this word that livens the whole translation up.

When you think about horizon, what comes into your mind? Grand, endless, sun-rise and sunset, the sky meets the earth. At the same time, though it doesn’t say anything about virtue or moral, it gives people a feeling of magnificence and greatness. This is because, as far as I’m concerned, people are usually in awe with something grand, and moreover, people have the presumption that tian is always virtuous and right. Such assumptions could be seen from a number of Chinese Classics, including the ones we learnt, namely Zhongyong, in which it discusses people’s natural tendencies as given by the heavens. One interesting aspect of this is the fact that the horizon did nothing to make itself magnificent or great yet is perceived so is consistent with Daodejing’s notion of “wuwei and therefore achieve greatness”.

In addition, because no matter for how long you walk towards the horizon, it never ends and is forever expending/ stretching forward; this can give you a sense of continuity. It is also interesting to ask when that happens whether you have really got closer to the horizon or not? The answer of this question maybe find in the book’s discussion of youwei and wuwei. Furthermore, youwei and wuwei, just as the sunrise and sunset, is forever transforming from one to another.

Another reason why I propose the translation “Walking Towards the Horizon” is that I believe nothing can better put human being, the earths and the heavens into context than the picture of human beings walking towards the horizon.

From my above explanation, you could see that I place much importance on spontaneity, noncoerciveness, continuity and transforming. It is because I believe Daodejing does the same.


Human beings emulate the earth,

The earth emulates the heavens,

The heavens emulate way-making,

And way-making emulates what is spontaneously so (ziran).1


This passage tells us the working of the human and cosmos. It correlates human beings with the earth, the heavens, way-making and ziran (nature), and put ziran on a fundamental position. Ziran, what is spontaneously so, implies that no deliberate human effort or influence is needed, i.e. wuwei.

Wuwei doesn’t mean doing nothing; it means noncoercive, going with what is naturally so. Everything has its natural tendencies. Letting these tendencies carry out by themselves can realize their potentials. That is why Daodejing says: “One does things noncoercively, and yet nothing goes undone.”2 And when this idea applied to governing, it is also effective: “It is simply in doing things noncoercively (wuwei) that everything is governed properly.”3

Moreover, this wuwei is in close connection with the notion of wuming. Those wuwei should remain wuming because “Way-making (dao) is really nameless (wuming).”4 and “To retire when the deed is done is the way (dao) that tian works.”5 So wuming is one aspect of dao, as it is one aspect of tian.

Laozi also says: “The highest renown is to be without renown, They do not want to be precious like jade, But common like stone.” 6 But to understand “common as stone” as banal is far from what the original text wants to say. As far as I’m concerned, “common as stone” suggests not draw attention to oneself, and what’s more, because jade is precious and mostly processed, “common as stone” also indicates living in a rich context/ environment, and being natural and modest.

Then there is the notion of continuity and transforming. In Daoism, everything is forever changing. Nothing has only one form. For example, water could appear in the form of ice, water or steam; it also could appear in lakes, rivers, or oceans. These different forms of water could easily transform to one another, in addition, the different water bodies are constantly exchanging their containing water.

Perhaps the most prominent idea in Daoism is transforming, changing from one side to the opposite. It’s the way to maintain the continuity. It is common knowledge that the sun rises and then the sunsets, day becomes night. Day to night, as sunrise to sunset, are the opposite of each other. Time is what works in between them, transforming them to another. Yet without this transformation, time would have no meaning, it would not continue, a new day would not begin. Similarly, we are born to die.


Returning” is how way-making (dao) moves,

And “weakening” is how it functions.

The events of the world arise from the determinate (you),

And the determinate arise from the indeterminate (wu).7


So as we were born and filled with life, we are actually weakening and getting closer and closer to death every minute. It seems that the world spins, but never makes much progress as it would always return to its original form. Does this mean Laozi, or Daoism is pessimistic? I don’t think that way.

I see you and wu as two sides of an apple, the one facing you is you, and the one opposite you and thus you can’t see is wu. Now even if the wu part of the apple is bitten, when you see the unbitten side of the apple (you), you would still think the apple is a whole, that the wu part is the same as the you part. But you are deceived. How could a small apple deceive human beings, the supreme beings in the universe? Why are we so readily to make assumptions of something opposite us? The answer is quite simple. It’s because we all know that apple, as well as any other things, could not only have one side. Even a piece of paper, no matter how thin is it, it has to have two sides. The existence of one side is on the condition of the existence of the other. In this apple analogy, the complete side couldn’t exist if not for the bitten side just as you and wu are interdependent and non could exist without the other.

In Lau’s translation of Passage 42, it says:


The way begets one;

One begets two;

Two begets three;

Three begets the myriad creatures.

The myriad creatures carry on their backs the yin and embrace in their arms the yang

and are the blending of the generative forces of the two. 8


Ames contextualized the vogue terms and rendered a translation as follows:

Way-making gives rise to continuity,

Continuity gives rise to difference,

Difference gives rise to plurality,

And plurality gives rise to the manifold of everything that is happening.

Everything carries yin on its shoulders and yang in its arms

And blends these vital energies (qi) together to make them harmonious.9


The metaphor of yin on shoulders and yang in arms are similar to that of you and wu. But Daodejing does not stop on the coexisting and transforming of the opposites, it brings the relation of you and wu to a new level by saying they are co-consummate. The Daodejing says:

Crimped then whole,

Warped then true,

Hollow then full,

Worn then new,

Modest then satisfied,

Demanding then bewildered.

Is it for this reason that the sages grasp oneness

To be shepherds to the world.

Those who are not self-promoting are distinguished,

Those who do not show off shine,

Those who do not brag have lots to show,

Those who are not self-important and enduring.

It is only because they do not contend

That none are able to contend with them.10

To Laozi, the consummation of anything is based on not deliberately perusing it, only then can one acquire it through natural course. Otherwise, it would be like someone who is chasing the horizon, ends up exhausting himself without gaining anything.

Based on the above analysis of the Daoism notion of cosmos, spontaneity, transforming, I propose the translation of Daodejing as “Walking Towards the Horizon”. Nevertheless, I realize my translation is by no means perfect; it has limitations as to explaining the relationship between dao and de and how each or both works on people. Much discussion and a careful study of not only Laozi, but all Daoism works, is needed for rendering a felicitous translation to the title.


1 Ames, Roger and Henry Rosemont. Daodejing “Making This Life Significant”. New York: Ballantine Books/Ballantine Pub. Group, 2003. 25

2 Ibid. 48

3 Ibid. 3

4 Ibid. 32 & 37

5 Ibid. 9

6 Ibid. 39

7 Ibid. 40

8 Tzu, L. & Lau, D. C., (1994). Tao Te Ching. City: Everyman's Library. 42

9 Ames, Roger and Henry Rosemont. Daodejing “Making This Life Significant”. New York: Ballantine Books/Ballantine Pub. Group, 2003. 42

10 Ibid. 22

1


Tuesday, December 5, 2006


Why the Confucian China would not Wage a War Against Iraq

-- The Proposition of 修人观



I want to start with an argument that if the Confucian China were the U.S. (it’s very important not to miss the Confucian here), it would not wage a war against Iraq. This argument is based on my proposition that the Confucian philosophy holds a “修人观”. means cultivation/ education. has two levels of meaning: human beings and oneself. This proposition is mainly concerned with three aspects: 1) “由下至上”: the Confucian philosophy is from bottom to top, i.e. it starts at a personal level and then rises to family, community, state, and then the cosmos; 2) “由内而外”: like an extending ripple, to exert an effect on others or the cosmos one should start by cultivating oneself, only then can one affect the people and objects he has relationships with; likewise, in order to influence other states, a country should start by developing itself; 3) “成己成物成人(仁)”: consummating oneself, consummating other events and being a consummate person, these are the desired results of cultivation / education.

By saying the Confucian China would not wage a war against Iraq, I do not claim that it is because one should repay ill with beneficense, Confucius believes that punishments are necessary, and punishments should be given to where punishments are due. As said in the Analects: “(If one repay ill with beneficense, ) then how would one repay beneficence? Repay ill will remaining true. Replay beneficense with gratitude.”1 This leads us to believe that it might be possible for the Confucian China to wage a war against Iraq if 1) Iraq is identified as ill; and 2) by going into war we are actually remaining true. However, both assumptions are controversial. So instead of focusing on the justification / injustification of the Iraqi war, this essay attempts to discover the way in which the Confucian China would solve the Iraqi problems if it were in the position of the U.S..

The Confucian China has the capacity to go into a war; it is not an armless country. This could be drawn from a conversation between Zigong and Confucius when “Zigong asked about governing effectively. The Master said to him, ‘Make sure there is sufficient food to eat, sufficient arms for defense, and that the common people have confidence in their leaders.’” Armory and force is necessary in protecting a state against its enemies, and unfortunately, necessary in maintaining order within an morally imperfect state. However, Confucius goes on to say that “If you had to give up one of these three things… Give up the arms (first)”. That is to say among these three necessities of governing, arms is dispensable. This is because when the common people have food at eat and have confidence in their leaders, they themselves would not revolt and when attacked, they would be able to unite together and fight against the enemies. This passage goes on: “If you had to give up one of the remaining two,” he (Zigong) said, “which should be given up first?” “Give up the food,” he replied, “Death has been with us from ancient times, but if the common people do not have confidence in their leaders, community will not endure.”2 Now we can see that Confucius places common people’s confidence in their leaders on a higher position than deaths. Why? My understanding is that it’s not the confidence itself that is important but a leader who is worthy of such confidence, a leader that is similar to the Platonic philosopher-king. And the becoming of such a leader also requires education / cultivation.

The sense of “from bottom to top” is clearly showed in Zhongyong, as it says: “In general there are nine guidelines in administering the empire, the state, and the family: cultivate one’s person, esteem those of superior character, be devoted to one’s kin, respect the high ministers, be inclusive of the whole assembly of ministers, treat the common people as one’s children, attract the artisans, be tolerant of those from afar, and cherish the various nobles.”3

Moreover, if you observe how the Chinese character is formed you’ll find there is some truth to the notion that ren (human, person) is the foundation of all phenomena in the Confucian philosophy. Starting with (authoritative conduct), this is is its perfection; and , which is the basic component of a state (国家) is formed by several people, and ultimately, , which is, in fact, a very interesting character. You can see the in it, meaning the people is a part of tian, but not only that, the two strikes also have meaning. As far as I’m concerned, the upper one refers to the position of tian as above human beings and the middle strike refers to the responsibility human shoulders, which is carrying out the xing (“natural tendencies”) tian has given us, so ren is not only a part of tian, but also an active part. Furthermore, notice that the upper strike is placed upon ren, this could mean 1) the divine influence of tian on human beings; 2) ren is what holds up the tian; tian relies on / is built upon human activities/ conducts; so it shows the creative role human plays in the tian-ren relationship.

That is why I think Confucian philosophy is a from-bottom-to-top philosophy, both in a sociological sense and in a cosmological sense. It is important to note that the bottom here doesn’t mean low in terms of importance, it means personal, yet foundational.

The second aspect of my proposition, from inner to outside, is fairly straightforward. It means a person effect others and the people by cultivating himself first. When Zilu asked about what constitutes exemplary persons. Confucius said, “The cultivation of himself in reverential carefulness.” And when Zilu pursued the answer, Confucius said: “He cultivates himself so as to give rest to others… He cultivates himself so as to give rest to all the people. He cultivates himself so as to give rest to all the people:– even Yâo and Shun were still solicitous about this.” 4

This inner to outside notion plays a key role in Confucian China’s decision in not waging a war against Iraq. “Those near at hand are pleased, and those at a distance are drawn to you.”5 It shows the kind of Confucian idealism of governing by modeling, not governing by law and principle. Unlike western tradition in which to change others is done by making them change, the Confucian tradition is about making oneself better / adjusting oneself so as to show the others what is proper. As Confucius put it: “Governing effectively is doing what is proper. If … (the governor) lead by doing what is proper, who would dare to do otherwise?”6 So in an idealistic Confucian China, the best way to solve the problems with Iraq is not by fighting against it, but by educating our own country, our own people about ren (), by being a model and effecting the Iraqi leaders and their people in a positive way. When that is achieved, “what need is there for killing”?

The last is the notion of consummating. Confucius has very high standards for consummate persons, such persons should be wise, free from desires, bold, cultivated, “and who in addition, have become refined through observing ritual propriety and playing music”. Yet because of the lack of morality in the status quo, Confucius says that “if on seeing a chance to profit they think of appropriate conduct, on seeing danger they are ready to give their lives, and when long in desperate straits, they still do not forget the words they live by – such persons can also be said to be consummate”7. Being such a consummate person requires one to constantly educate oneself, and exercise the creativity tian has given him. Zhongyong says: “Creativity is self-consummating, and its way is self-directing.” And since the Confucian philosophy is concerned with relationships, not individuals, this “creativity is not simply the self-consummating of one’s own person; it is what consummates events.” Zhongyong goes on to say: “Consummating oneself is authoritative conduct; consummating other events is wisdom. This is the excellence of one’s natural tendencies and is the way of integrating what is more internal and what is more external. Thus, whenever one applies this excellence, it is fitting.”8 Because authoritative conduct and wisdom are criteria for a consummate person, it could be concluded that 修人 is a consummatory process that includes the consummation of oneself and events.

It is interesting to note that the Confucian philosophy is not the only philosophy that is concerned about consummation in a relational context, in Chapter 1 of John Dewey’s Art as Experience, he says: “For only when an organism shares in the ordered relations of its environment does it secure the stability essential to living. And when the participation comes after a phase of disruption and conflict, it bears within itself the germs of a consummation akin to the esthetic.”9

Now we can draw the conclusion that the Confucian tradition holds a 修人观 that advocates consummating oneself and events as a way achieve one’s consummation and advancing to reach harmony in a family, a community, a state, and between states.



1 Ames, Roger and Henry Rosemont. The Analects Of Confucius. New York: Ballantine Books/Ballantine Pub. Group, 1999. 14.34

2 Ames, Roger and Henry Rosemont. The Analects Of Confucius. New York: Ballantine Books/Ballantine Pub. Group, 1999. 12.7

3 Ames, R., & Hall, D. Focusing the Familiar. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press. 2001. XXII

4 Legge, James. The Analects Of Confucius, The Great Learning, Doctrine Of The Mean. New York: Dover Publications, 1971. The Analects: 14.42

5 Ames, Roger and Henry Rosemont. The Analects Of Confucius. New York: Ballantine Books/Ballantine Pub. Group, 1999. 13.16

6 Ames, Roger and Henry Rosemont. The Analects Of Confucius. New York: Ballantine Books/Ballantine Pub. Group, 1999. 12.17

7 Ames, Roger and Henry Rosemont. The Analects Of Confucius. New York: Ballantine Books/Ballantine Pub. Group, 1999. 14.12

8 Ames, R., & Hall, D. Focusing the Familiar. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press. 2001. XXV

9 John Dewey, Art as Experience, Perigee Trade. July 5, 2005