chapter  7
18 Pages

A Partial Exemplar: Zigong

Just as the Analects proposes total moral exemplars and partial moral exemplars, so too it proposes negative exemplars. Here again, I expect that such exemplars are originally identifi ed through direct reference and in advance of any articulated, abstract account of moral failing. Such is to say that among our experiences of others, we sometimes see another and effectively conclude that whatever goodness is, it is not that. More dramatically, we may even conclude that whatever badness is, it is that. The exemplar here inspires aversion rather than admiration, and inclines us against wanting to be like him. A conceptual and general account of moral failure or of particular vices, can in turn be derived from scrutiny of such models. We query what they offer in an effort to assay and specify just what sources aversive responses. As is the case with positive moral exemplars, negative moral exemplars can generate a process of inquiry in which our models seed refl ection and generate general abstract moral concepts and schemata.