21 Pages

Introduction: Living the form and knowing the way

Aristotle (384-322 BCE) and Confucius (551-479 BCE) are influential thinkers from two ancient cultures that did not have direct contact with each other; therefore, important differences exist in their teachings. In this study, I focus on the question of what these differences are and, relatedly, whether these are fundamental differences or differences in emphasis. To address these questions more meaningfully than we currently do, I argue that we need to understand the similarities as well as the differences between them. I therefore examine both the similarities and the differences in this study and limit the scope of the examination to Aristotle’s and Confucius’ rhetorical thinking. To do so, I engage scholarly discussions or debates on what rhetorical thinking entails according to Aristotle and Confucius while reading closely Aristotle’s Rhetoric and Confucius’ Analects in the socialhistorical but also discursive contexts. In doing so, I hope this study’s findings could help facilitate communication between East and West, assuming that Confucius’ and Aristotle’s teachings are still informing parts of Eastern and Western cultures today, that cultures need to and can learn from each other and complement each other, and that knowledge of similarities can help to invent ways for differences to coexist productively in the globalized 21st century.