Can a morally great / virtuous person choose the right thing to do in every situation all by herself, or does she need to follow moral rules as guides?
Texts and Courses
The activity helps motivate the Confucian focus on the relationship between ritual activity (li) and ethics.
Students (and more than a few philosophers) tend not to think of everyday social interactions as the paradigmatic realm of ethics, but for the early Confucians, small-scale social interactions were of central ethical importance.
This is best done as a group activity, but could be done as an individual or pair activity.
This activity helps students question widespread beliefs (in western cultures) about individuality and independence. It helps illustrate the Confucian emphasis on community and the importance of our relations to others.
The Deviant Philosopher provides individual primers for particular schools of early Chinese philosophy. However, there are basic questions someone new to teaching any of these materials may have. The purpose of this more global primer is address some of these general questions and additionally provide sufficient background information and tips useful to philosophers new to early Chinese philosophy. Our goal in what follows, then, is simply to give philosophers some basic information that can help one feel more confident in wading into unfamiliar waters.
Early Confucianism is typically identified with the Confucian philosophers active during the period leading up to and during the Warring States era in China (6th – 3rd century BCE). The most familiar and discussed figures in this period are Confucius himself, Mengzi, and Xunzi. The period in which these philosophers lived was extraordinarily violent, chaotic, and troubling. Philosophical inquiry thus betrays an atmosphere of crisis, reflecting concerns about what had gone wrong, both politically and morally, and how it might be repaired.