A Total Exemplar: Confucius
Confucius, it is clear, is the most complete and compelling exemplar presented in the Analects. Regardless of what theoretical orientation we adopt, the text unambiguously indicates that Confucius is a moral master who warrants emulation. Under an exemplarist reading of the text, Confucius, qua man and qua good person, is, I suspect, the hinge around which the rest of the text pivots. He is at once our “leading expert,” sussing out the direction in which exemplars point; a master learner who seeks to emulate his exemplars, thus marking out a path for others seeking to do the same; and, above all, the paramount exemplar proposed by the text’s authors, the that to which the text most energetically points. Because Confucius is so indubitably central to the Analects and the text’s depiction of him is so detailed, there is much more we can say about him than I can possible say here, so let me briefl y outline the direction of my remarks.