chapter
14 Pages

Introduction

ByRichard Kim

Reflections on a historically significant moral tradition like Confucianism helps us see that ethical thought finds its roots in the real lives of flesh and blood humans as they struggle to realize meaning and goodness in their lives. The central virtues and practices of Confucianism—ritual, deferential respect, filial piety—are particular ways of giving expression to and satisfying our need to belong to a community and share in a life directed toward the common good. One significant development is the movement generally known as Neo-Confucianism, advanced by a list of important thinkers in China, Korea, and Japan including the Cheng Brothers, Zhu Xi, Wang Yangming, Ito Jinsai, Dai Zhen, and Dasan. The idea behind the primacy of cultivation is not to claim that personal self-cultivation is the final end of Confucianism, but that from a practical point of view the most important end—a flourishing society—can be achieved if and only if individuals develop the Confucian virtues.