chapter  4
24 Pages

Exemplarist Elements in the Analects

Exemplarism may operate to close perceived gaps in the structure of the Analects’ moral reasoning, but much of what I have so far addressed refl ects metatheoretical interests we cannot assume Confucius or the text’s authors to have shared. They may not have worried in the same manner as we about theoretical foundations, general motivation, or the clarity of concepts. I thus now move toward an exemplarist analysis of what the text affi rmatively offers. Exemplarism invites us to attend carefully to the narrative features of the text, to its depiction of its dramatic personae and the story it tells about them. In this chapter, I wish to draw closer to these fi gures and sketch the way this story is told, the conceptual features and commitments that I expect are drawn from the experience of exemplars, the moral vocabulary and priorities that I think sourced in exemplars. As before, I proceed in something of a reversal of exemplarist method, beginning with the conceptual features of the text and showing how these may issue from admiration and scrutiny of exemplars. I hope to show that just as we can explain some of the Analects’ “silences” with an exemplarist rendering of the text, so too we can account for some of the text’s most pronounced interests, commitments, and patterns of reasoning.