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The Idea of Human Dignity: A Reconstruction of Confucianism

作者:张千帆   点击量:77085

3.    The Confucian Concept of Human Dignity
Although human dignity is explicitly a western concept, it has a close Chinese correlate.  Its literal translation today is Zun Yan, a word often used in conjunction with a familiar Confucian term, Ren Ge, which is sometimes translated as “moral personality”.  The latter word had a rather tortuous history.  It was first used in Japanese to express “persona”, a psychology term.  When it was introduced to China, however, it became associated with the ideal Confucian personality and acquired moral and ethical connotations.[1]  In expressing the idea of human dignity, it is perhaps better that the two Chinese words be used jointly,[2] so that Ren Ge expresses, in Professor Hare’s terms,[3] the descriptive element, and Zun Yan the prescriptive element, of the normative concept.  Although neither word appear systematically in the classical Confucian texts, as I argue below, this concept (denoted as human dignity from now on) best captures the moral teachings of Confucius and Mencius.
In Confucianism, human dignity is a composite normative concept and, as such, implies conceptual elements on three related but distinct dimensions: descriptive, prescriptive, and emotive.  On the descriptive (or cognitive) dimension, the concept contains the belief in the basic facts about human life or, more accurately, about the possibilities of human life, based on empirical observations of social interactions among human beings.  This is the relatively objective realm of “is” or “can”.  The prescriptive (or evaluative) dimension, on the other hand, presupposes the subjective valuation of these facts by human individuals or groups, from which the prescriptive notion of “ought” is derived.  On this dimension, the concept implies evaluative determination of what types of human life, actions or dispositions to act are to be regarded as “good”, noble, and praiseworthy, and positively prescribes a duty to develop, maintain, and preserve--at least refrain from harming--the conceived good.  Thus, the first two dimensions defines the normative meaning of a value concept.  Finally, the emotive dimension entails the behavioral manifestations naturally ensue from believing in and subscribing to the norm.  It can include, for example, the exhibited psychological satisfaction and confidence derived from continuous moral practice prescribed by the norm, or the natural sentiments it arouses in common people, such as approbation for what they perceive as conforming (thus desirable) behaviors and antipathy to deviant practices.  In this way, the emotive dimension furnishes a partial empirical “proof” for the universal presence of the norm within normally developed human beings.
I shall seek to explain below the term “human dignity” along these three dimensions. 
3.1.  The Meaning of Dignity as Exemplified in Confucian Gentleman
Descriptively, human dignity stands for a set of beliefs about human life or the kind of life that human beings are capable of living.  Here the concept contains two aspects about human nature: potential and actual (which roughly corresponds to Gewirth’s notion of “inherent” and “empirical” dignity, or Stetson’s notion of “intrinsic” and “extrinsic” dignity)[4].  The vision of unique human potentials sets the end for a good life, and requires active pursuit to actualize these potentials.  The Confucian idea of human dignity is thus closely related to its central concepts of innate virtues, the personality of gentleman (Junzi),[5] and the Principle of the Mean (Zhong Yong).  It should be noted that, unlike virtues in the Greek sense which stand for acquired moral habits, “virtues” used here to translate the Chinese word De means potentials in a human being, and is sometimes translated equivalently as potency, power, or capacities.  In other words, the Chinese “virtues” are not primary faculties ready to carry out certain types of actions (e.g., the quality of justice as propensity to act justly), but only secondary faculties that enable a person to acquire the primary faculties (e.g., the ability to become a just person through some effort).[6]
The Confucianists believe that men are endowed by Heaven (Tian, equivalent in meaning to Nature) with a set of innate virtues.  In one occasion, Confucius makes a remark about himself that “Heaven produced virtue in me”.[7]  Mencius further develops this assumption of human nature into an ontological doctrine.  Everyone is endowed from Heaven, he says, with four beginnings (Si Duan) of “heart-mind” (Xin); they are the seats for four cardinal virtues: humanity (Ren), righteousness (Yi), propriety (Li), and wisdom (Zhi).[8]  While the heart-mind for shame and distaste (for one’s own bad behavior) is the seat of feeling for justice, the heart-mind for compassion is the origin of humanity.  Humanity and justice are the inborn moral qualities which defines the essential character of a human being and without which a man would be reduced to a mere animal. With adequate education, learning and self-cultivation, these innate capacities will be actualized in a person, making him a mature gentleman.  It is to be noted that, since very early in Confucianism, gentleman became a respectful title for anyone who acquired high moral status.  As Liang Qichao points out, “Junzi is not a word denoting one’s social status; it is a word that denotes one’s moral status.  In other words, Junzi represents a person who has perfected his Ren Ge”.[9]
To Confucius, one becomes a gentleman when he has succeeded in cultivating balanced virtues based on the central Principle of the Mean.  Confucius makes it unambiguous that a gentleman is one who consciously follows the Principle of Mean, by which he unites himself with Heaven.  The ability to act according to the Mean becomes the definitive criterion for distinguishing a gentleman from a mean-spirited “littleman” (xiao ren), a “small person” with low moral status.[10]  Thus, “a gentleman act according to the Mean; a littleman act contrary to the Mean.  Because a gentleman maintains the Mean, he always act to a perfect degree”.[11]  As a result, in a gentleman, we find several primary virtues in a harmonious proportion: “Benevolent, he is free from worries; wise, he is free from perplexities; courageous, he is free from fear”.[12]  The best example is Confucius himself, who is praised for being “gentle but serious, awe-inspiring but not harsh, respectful but calm”.[13]
Now, one may contend that the Principle of the Mean is too general to guide concrete human conduct, and the specific virtues are either too vague (e.g. what is the meaning of humanity, Ren?) or, once they received a fixed interpretation, quickly become dogmatic and anachronistic (e.g. to be Ren is to respect one’s parents and, thus, when either of them dies, to mourn for three years). Further, even the Confucianists might not agree among themselves as to which virtues (e.g. Ren or Li?) should be placed at the highest hierarchy and govern others, or how they should be interpreted.  While these contentions do carry some force, they by no means undermine the basic Confucian idea that man is endowed with a set of unique potentials that characterize him as man; and such traditional virtues as humanity, justice, wisdom, courage, and propriety of conduct, still receive wide approbation today, even though their interpretations may be disputed and modified over time.  In other words, while the descriptive content of what constitutes human dignity may vary, there is nevertheless the Confucian consensus that a meaningful content is there.  We should reject the dogmatic tendency in Confucianism and admit, with MacIntyre,[14] that our conception of man is not static, but a dialectic progress, which changes with time, circumstances, and the improvement of human understanding.  Yet this does not preclude society from accepting, at any given time, a prevailing view about human nature upon which its moral judgment is based.
One essential virtue, whose social acceptance does have withstood the test of time, is justice (Yi).  A Confucian gentleman is above all a righteous man, who always directs his action according to justice as required by the Principle of the Mean.  Thus, “a gentleman stands erect in the middle, without inclining to either side.”[15]  He ties himself fast to that principle, without being swayed by such external influences as profits, power, or financial difficulties.[16]  “A gentleman does not give up his righteousness when he is poor; nor does he deviate from the Way when he is prosperous....  If poor, he cultivate his virtue in solitude; if prosperous, he strives to bring virtue to the whole world.”[17]  Nor is the principle of his behavior least affected by his socio-political status, as “in a high position, he refrains from treating his inferiors with contempt; in a low position, he refuses to court the favor of his superiors.  He rectifies himself, and seeks for nothing from the others”.[18]  Nor should the state of politics distract him from following the path of justice: “When good principles prevail in his government, he tenaciously pursues his goal....  When bad principles prevail in the country, he maintains his course to death without changing.”[19]
Firm commitment to righteousness confers physical and moral independence upon a gentleman.  By claiming more than one deserves (for example, undue prestige or salaries), the acts of injustice indicate a state of dependence on the others--the signature of a morally inferior mind.  On the contrary, a gentleman relies not on the changeable wills of other men, but on his own effort through which he can bring about the actualization of his innate qualities endowed from Heaven, thereby achieving true autonomy.[20]  Having identified himself with the Way of Heaven, a gentleman will act on his own initiative, independent from any pressure, power or opinion of other men.  He is to act justly under all circumstances, with or without the awareness or presence of the others.  For even if nobody on earth knows his virtues and vices, the omniscient Heaven and he himself would know; and an unjust action merely degrades his personal dignity, making him feeling the shame in his mind.  For this reason a gentleman must take care of his virtue even when he is in solitude.[21]  Meanwhile, once he has sincerely examined himself according to the principle of justice and left his mind free from any sense of moral shame or guilt, a gentleman becomes the most courageous of all men, and cannot be compelled by any external force, least by the fear for other men’s power.  Thus, from Confucius’ disciple we learn the master’s great courage: “on self-examination, if I find that I fail to be righteous, I would not threaten a single man, be he in an inferior status; but, on self-examination, if I find that I am righteous, I will go forward even against a crowd of a million men”.[22]
To summarize, a Confucian gentleman is a person who has actualized in a balanced fashion the innate virtues endowed from Heaven as a human being.  S/he exemplifies the Confucian ideal moral character that any person can attain through continuous moral learning and practice.  In the words of Mencius, a gentleman is “to dwell in the magnificent house of humanity, to stand in the right place of propriety, and to walk on the great path of justice; when he succeeds in obtaining an office, to practice his principles together with his people; when his effort is frustrated, to persist in the practice of these principles alone.  Wealth and honor cannot corrupt him; poverty and low status cannot move him (away from justice); and power and force cannot subjugate him”.[23]
3.2.  The Prescriptions of Dignity: Individual Cultivation and Universal Respect
The Confucian concept of human dignity, of course, not only implies the factual recognition of the unique human possibility of becoming a gentleman, but also bestow value on the realization of such possibility.  And, like every value, it depends on the evaluative effort of the subject itself.[24]  An uncultivated person has perhaps the equal potential to become a sage or a villain; it encumbers on human beings themselves to value the former and condemn the latter.  The great Confucian authority, Xunzi, once says that “Water and fire have essences (Qi), but not life; herbs and trees have life, but no knowledge; birds and beasts have knowledge, but no sense of justice (Yi).  Man has an essence, life, knowledge and, in addition, a sense of justice; thus he is the noblest on earth”.[25]  But even if we are convinced that human beings indeed possess the innate sense of justice, it does not necessarily follow that it is the most noble; to thus value mankind above everything else, which gives rise to the unique pride for being a man, is itself a value judgment.  It is an anthropocentric view of homo sapiens, individually and as a whole, as it means simply that we value human lives higher than all other things.  This (and, to a Confucianist, only this) life is worth living, precisely because it is believed to be a process of continuous actualization of the unique potential worth present in every human life.  The “radical world optimism”[26] is the very essence of Confucian and, more generally, Chinese humanism.
The belief in human dignity presupposes an irreducible worth attached to every person insofar as s/he is a human being.  This is best illustrated in the Mencian theory of human nature,[27] which enables Mencius to develop a positive doctrine of human value.  Mencius assumes that everyone is born with a noble body together with the capacity to develop it.  Man is set apart from other animals perhaps by only a slight difference, yet it is precisely this small difference that makes man unique.  The unique value of man lies not in his material body--because that he shares with all other animals, but exclusively in his moral faculties as embodied in his heart-mind (Xin).  Responsible for moral and rational thinking, the heart-mind is the noblest organ endowed by human being and, unlike the material body whose advantages are unequally inherited by different individuals, the moral heart-mind is endowed equally in all men and women.  As a result, “everyone possesses in himself the noble value”.[28]  The individual moral differences lie not in the natural endowment, but in the posterior development of the innate potentials.  Mencius distinguishes the “noble” or “great” body (the heart-mind where humanity resides) from the “ignoble” or “small” body (sensuous organs giving rise to passion and desire).  “While a gentleman follows his great body, a littleman is driven by his small body.”[29]  Unlike a littleman who is preoccupied with his selfish material desires, a gentleman takes care to cultivate his sublime moral character by pursuing humanity and justice, which enables him to lead a life that is worthy of his noble nature.  Humanity and justice are true nobility, which is endowed from Heaven and cannot be substituted by human nobility (such as high social status and comfortable material life).  While the human nobility is contingent on individual fortune and limited necessarily to a few, the inherent nobility of Heaven is absolute and universal to all human beings.
Now it may be contended that the Confucianists valued not so much the potentials inherent in man as the actually developed qualities exhibited in a gentleman.  Munroe observes, for example, that traditional Chinese society had consistently rejected the ideas of democracy and mass political participation precisely because of the Confucian emphasis that only those who had actually developed virtues had the right to participate in politics.[30]  Merits in arguments of this type aside, however, they cannot support the assertion that the Confucianists did not value the pure potentials in every human life.  There are plenty of passages in the classical Confucian texts that point to the contrary.  For Confucius, human beings in general worth more than anything on the earth, and cannot be arbitrarily harmed or destroyed even by the highest ruler of the state.  He strongly condemned, for example, the custom of using figurines in the kings’ burial because the figurines were made to look too similar to real people[31] (instead of only those with gentlemanly outlook).  When a horse stable caught on fire, he asked, without mentioning horse, whether anyone (rather than only men of elevated moral status) had been hurt.[32]  Likewise Mencius clearly sees the same worth in a human baby in his famous example where he attempts to illustrate the existence of humanity by the spontaneous feeling of compassion.[33]  Suppose we witness a baby approaching a water well, he argues, we would be prompted by our natural compassion to go forward and save her from the danger.[34]  Had Mencius not valued the potentials innate in a human being, we would seem to have no reason to save the baby, for she is yet to develop any of her unique human potentials.  In this case, an undeveloped human child should not worth more than other animals, and we should not feel more compelled to save her than to save, say, a cat about to fall into a well.  But Mencius would argue, I believe,to the contrary: whenever a human life, whose multifarious potentials are yet to be actualized, faces such danger, the matter is of an entirely different order.  Thus, although Mencius intended to use this example to illustrate the presence of humanity in every human being as a potential virtue, it can be plausibly extended to show the general Confucian concern and respect for the innate human potentials.  Whether a person has actually developed these potentials (as he ought to), they are regarded to have value by themselves and deserve respect from others.  In the Confucian view, then, the potential virtues innate in every human being are an inseparable part of human dignity.
On the other hand, as a value concept, human dignity also carries a prescriptive component.  It places high premium on certain potentials innate in every human person and treats them as the irreplaceable good, which positively requires the individuals to cultivate these unique potentials by learning and practice in order to become fully developed men and, at the same time, to respect the same potentials in every other man and woman.  Further, the concept can be plausibly so construed as to demand that the state and society should respect, protect, and help cultivate the virtues in every individual, thus providing everyone with certain basic rights, both in the negative (liberty) and positive (claims) senses.  The prescriptions entailed by human dignity, then, contain three distinct aspects: the self, the other, and the collective.
First, a Confucian gentleman is a person who values his inborn virtues and takes care to preserve and develop what he believes to be noble in him, and he is said to have developed dignity precisely because he act in accordance with his innate nobility.  Significantly, the Confucianists did not stop here, but further required the conscious cultivation and actualization of these inborn capacities.  To see this we need only mention the classic Great Learning (Da Xue), which prescribes a systematic program for self-cultivation (Xiu Shen).  Having cultivated the virtues, a Confucian gentleman practices and displays them overtly in his daily actions, giving rise to an appearance that commands respect from others.  Thus, the Confucian dignity combines both the internal and external aspects of a human being; it presupposes the potential unique to mankind and, taking its value for granted, requires every man and woman to make a good effort to develop it in daily life.  When the dignity is fully developed, it would spontaneously display itself in one’s appearance and behavior, as a part of acquired habits.
Second, the gentleman’s sense of justice presupposes his conscious recognition of the same basic worth in all other persons that command his respect.  The respect for others is the natural extension of his self-respect, since a just man must obey the basic rule of reciprocity, which Confucius takes to be the Way for every gentleman: “whatever you do not wish others impose upon you, nor do you impose on others”.[35]  Thus, when his student asks about the practice of virtue, he says: “When you leave home [to govern a people], behave [cautiously] as if you were receiving a great guest; to employ the people as if you were assisting a great ceremony.  Do not impose on the others what you do not wish the other to impose on you”.[36]  If a gentleman wants himself to be respected, then, he must first respect others and treat them as human beings who, like him, are endowed with moral and intellectual faculties capable of being fully developed.  To imitate the absolute justice of Heaven, a gentleman must refrain from doing anything that might prevents anyone from actualizing his/her potential and achieving full dignity.  Thus, his respect is due not only to cultivated gentlemen with comparable moral achievements, but also to every ordinary person, whose innate capacities make human improvements always possible.
But even that is not enough.  For a gentleman is concerned not only with interpersonal moral conduct, but also with the ideal state and society in which he prefers to live.  While he respects every human being in the universe, it would be quite rational for him to require others to pay reciprocal respect for himself.  Further, he should also like to be able to require that we all (not only he himself) respect the basic dignity of any other person.  Human dignity requires universal respect, from which no one ought to be excluded.  For this purpose, recognizing the weaknesses and limitations in individual human beings, a gentleman should concern himself with setting up proper laws and social institutions to secure such an end, that is, to prevent everyone from taking actions that would diminish anyone else’s (and his/her own) dignity.  These laws and institutions establish what are in nature private rights, because they protect the dignity of every citizen against private encroachment from others.  Last and most important, he should be concerned, above all, with establishing fundamental rules that can prevent these institutions themselves, especially the state, from exercising powers in such a way as to defeat the very aim for which they are erected.  We thus need a constitution that can limit the powers of the state and social organizations, and provides basic rights to every individual against public encroachment.  Although, historically, the Confucianists were not always conscious of the need for the institutional balance of powers, it seems to be reasonable to derive these basic institutional requirements from the Confucian concept of dignity.
3.3.  The Sense of Dignity in a “Shame Culture”
Is there any ground for holding this fundamentally optimistic self-evaluation and for believing that the distinctive virtues in a human being make him/her nobler than all other animals?  It is true that, even if we can prove that we are in fact endowed with the Confucian virtues (e.g. the innate abilities to acquire, among other things, humanity and justice), we are by no means logically compelled to confer highest value on them or even regard them as “good” at all.[37]  Without endorsing existentialism as a whole, we may nevertheless agree that human beings are free to value or devalue everything existing.  Nor is it is feasible to empirically demonstrate--in the strict sense of the word--the universal existence of these virtues in every individual person.  Yet at least a partial vindication can be made to support the self-consistency of holding such a belief.  That is, for those who have succeeded in developing their virtues, they do feel the existence of the inner worth, as shown in the psychological satisfaction and self-confidence; on the other hand, if they undertake actions contrary to the opinion they hold about their moral nobility, they will have a distinctive experience of feeling degraded.  Further, even ordinary men and women do have a sense of dignity within themselves which, though perhaps not consciously articulated, shows itself when their self-esteem is harmed by degrading treatments.  Thus, it does seem that some sense of dignity is universally felt in every human being.[38]  This leads us to inquire the third and the last dimension of human dignity: the emotive dimension, which contains both positive and negative aspects. 
First, as stated earlier, the quality of justice in a Confucian gentleman gives him the sense of moral independence, and  allows him to correspond with the Way of Heaven without having to blindly follow others.[39]  This presupposes a considerable degree of confidence in his own moral righteousness, which is to be exhibited in easy but dignified outlook that naturally commands respect from others.  In the words of Confucius, one becomes a gentleman “when he maintains a dignified ease without being arrogant; when he is majestic without being fierce”.[40]  As he explains further, “Whether [the gentleman] has to do with many people or few, or with things great or small, he does not dare to indicate any disrespect;--is not this to maintain a dignified ease without any arrogance?  He adjusts his clothes and cap, and throws a dignity into his looks, so that, thus dignified, he is looked at with awe;--is not this to be majestic without being fierce?”[41]  The “dignified ease” (Tai) here stands for an appearance of magnificent composure that comes from the gentleman’s confidence in his own worth.
Second, negatively, a gentleman refrains from injustice because he feels the shame in doing unjust things to others--things that do not worth his effort and the commission of which would make him feel degraded.  “Hence a gentleman feels no shame upon self-examination, and brings no embarrassment to his own will”.[42]  And freedom from any sense of moral shame gives him both the confidence and courage that are found lacking in a littleman.  The conscious feeling of self-respect within oneself, as reflected in the sense of shame, distinguishes a gentleman from a littleman.  While a littleman can do anything, however low, without feeling degraded, a gentleman is fully conscious of the worth inherent in him and will do only those things that are consistent with or can help actualize his worth.[43]  For this reason he regards himself highly.[44]  If a gentleman committed a certain action that was not worthy of his nobility, then he merely degraded himself to a level lower than his intrinsic moral quality--a degradation for which he would feel shameful.  Thus, Confucius insists that a gentleman should “maintain the sense of shame in his own conduct”;[45] those who would do anything without feeling the shame lack the very moral quality to do the right thing.  As Mencius puts it aptly: “A man must first know what he ought not to do, before he can do what he ought to do”.[46]  And both Confucius and Mencius have furnished examples for the kind of things that will make a gentleman feel shameful.  “A gentleman”, for example, “thinks it shameful if his words exceed his deeds”,[47] because he would then make false claim on something which he did not do.  And “a gentleman feels shameful if the prestige he receives exceeds his virtue”.[48]  Likewise, “it is shameful if, serving as an official in the court, he cannot practice the principle of good government” because he would then  receive many benefits for doing nothing;[49] for Confucius, “a good minister should serve his king through the Way and, finding it impossible, retire”.[50] 
It may be objected that the sentiments for dignity is not universal, but present only in those cultivated gentlemen who have succeeded in developing their innate virtues.  Most often, however, even for those who do not believe in human virtues or make any conscious efforts to cultivate them, they nevertheless feel offended when they think that they are treated less than what they deserve, implying that they do attribute some worth to themselves--though perhaps unconsciously and inconsistently.  This is particularly obvious when they are mistreated by others.  Even a beggar would feel degraded if someone throws food on the floor for him to pick up, as if the latter were feeding an animal.[51]  As long as one has not lost the minimal sense of self-esteem, he would feel offended if his employer treats him merely as a machine for producing profit or government agents push him around rudely, as if they were taming a wild beast.  In these situations one would feel humiliated because he thinks that he deserves better treatment than what a mere animal or machine receives.  Although he may purport to ignore or even consciously reject the worth inherent in him, thereby degrading himself and inviting despises from others, his aversion against the maltreatment seems to imply that he still thinks himself to have some value.  Thus, it can at least be argued that the sense of dignity is not limited to those cultivated persons; rather, it is universally found in every human being, even though the degree of such sentiment may vary.  The apparent availability of such a feeling in every human being may not establish conclusively the existence of innate human virtues, but does suggest the reasonableness of the Confucian belief in the basic worth of human person.
 
What is human dignity, then?  What does it amount to say that human being is a dignified creature?   According to Confucianism, man is dignified because he is born with a set of innate virtues unique to human race and the capacity of fully realizing these virtues that make him a mature person, and because  he respects himself (and other men and women) by attributing high values to these unique virtues, which lead him to consciously develop them.  Human dignity is then a composite idea that consists in the innate potentials believed to be uniquely endowed by every human being and held at the highest irreducible value, plus the extent to which these potentials is practically realized through conscious self-cultivation.  An action is dignity-enhancing if it cultivates, practices or exhibits one’s virtues; it is dignity-reducing (thus degrading) if it fails to exercise virtues or prevents anyone from cultivating or exercising virtues.  Those who adopt this positive view of mankind, seeing the same worth and virtues in themselves, take life-long efforts to cultivate them so as to better themselves, striving to achieve the highest dignity possible for a human being.  Having cultivated these virtues, they take pride in them and display an overt confidence in their daily behavior; on the other hand, if they happen to have done things that tend to diminish or prevent the realization of virtues, they would feel degraded and shameful.  They assume that everyone ought to see these virtues in himself and in others as something noble and worthy, and thus make a conscious effort to respect and to cultivate them in order to make himself a better human being; failure to do so would justly invoke moral disapproval from other members of society.  Finally, they further require the state and society to not only respect, protect, and refrain from degrading the dignity in every man and woman, but also provide the basic social conditions that makes it possible for everyone to attain a dignified existence.


[1]        See Zhu Yilu (朱义禄), Confucian Ideal Personality and Chinese Culture 《儒家理想人格与中国文化》 (Shenyang: Liaoning Education Press, 1991), pp. 1-18.  The earliest source I can find that explicitly attempts to connect the western concept of human dignity with Chinese Ren Ge is Zhang Dongsun (张东荪), Rationality and Democracy 《理性与民主》 (Hong Kong: Longmen Shudian, 1946), pp. 47-82.
 
[2]       See Zhang Dainian (张岱年), “The Concept of Human Dignity in the Classical Chinese Philosophy” (“中国古典哲学中的人格尊严思想”), International Confucianism Study 《国际儒学研究》 2 (1997), p. 18.
 
[3]       R.M. Hare, Freedom and Reason (London: Oxford University Press, 1963), pp. 10-27.
 
[4]       See, respectively, Gewirth, ibid., pp. 12-14, and Stetson, ibid., pp. 15-17.
 
[5]       “Gentleman” (Junzi) here is gender neutral.  Unless specified or made clear by the context, none of the masculine words in this paper suggest any sex bias.
 
[6]        For confining the notion of virtues to socially beneficial human abilities and propensities, see Cheng, ibid., pp. 145-146.
 
[7]       Analects, 7: 22; see Wing-tsit Chan, A Source Book in Chinese Philosophy (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1963), p. 32.
 
[8]       Mencius, 6A: 6.
 
[9]       Liang Qichao (梁启超), History of Political Thought in the Pre-Qin Period 《先秦政治思想史》 (Taipei: Zhonghua Shuju, 1972), p. 381.
 
[10]       As to the Confucian distinction between “xiao ren” and “Junzi”, see Yu Ying-shih, ibid., pp. 160-177.
 
[11]       Principle of the Mean, sec. 3; also see sec. 4, 5, 9.  In addition, “a gentleman follows the path of Mean, and feels no regret even though his virtue is unknown and neglected by the world.”  In the Principle of the Mean, sec. 11, trans. James Legge, The Four Books (Hong Kong: Wei Tung Book Co., 1971), p. 7.
 
[12]      Analects: 9: 29; see Legge, ibid., p. 126.
 
[13]      Analects, 7: 38.
 
[14]      Alasdair MacIntyre, After Virtue (2nd Ed., Notre Dame: University of Nortre Dame Press, 1984), pp. 222-223.
 
[15]      Principle of the Mean, sec. 10; see Legge, ibid., p. 7.
 
[16]       Thus,  “a gentleman seeks the Way rather than material support....  What worries him is not poverty, but that he fails to attain the Way” (Analects, 15: 32).
 
[17]      Mencius, 7A: 9; see Legge, ibid., p. 305.
 
[18]      Principle of the Mean, sec. 14; see Legge, ibid., p. 11.
 
[19]      Principle of the Mean, sec. 10; trans. Legge, ibid., p. 7.
 
[20]       “A gentleman seeks in himself, while a littleman seeks in the others.” In Analects, 15: 21; see Legge, ibid., p. 137.  “A gentleman must first acquire the virtues before he may require them in the others; he must rid himself of the vices before he can prohibit them in the others.”  In Great Learning, sec. 10; see Legge, ibid., p. 12.
 
[21]      Shen Du; see Great Learning, sec. 6.
 
[22]      Mencius, 2A: 2; see Legge, ibid., p. 63.
 
[23]      Mencius, 3B: 2.
 
[24]      J.L. Mackie, Ethics: Inventing Right and Wrong (London: Penguin Books, 1977), pp. 15-49.
 
[25]      Xunzi, “Kingly Government”, Ch. 9; see Homer H. Dubs, The Works of Hsuntze (Taipei: Cheng-wen Publishing Co., 1966), p. 136.
 
[26]      That is, the lack of belief in the original human sin and the resulting guilt, see Max Weber, The Religion of China (trans.  Hans H. Gerth, New York: Free Press, 1951), p. 235.
 
[27]      See Bloom, ibid., pp. 104-108.
 
[28]      Mencius, 6A: 17.
 
[29]      Mencius, 6A:14.
 
[30]      Donald J. Munro, The Concept of Man in Early China (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1969), pp. 49-83.
 
[31]      See Mencius, 1A: 4.
 
[32]       Analects, 10: 17.  I owe this example to Professor Ni Peimin in response to a question raised by Professor Li Chenyang at the panel discussion at the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy.
 
[33]      See Peter L. Berger, Brigitte Berger, & Hansfriend Kellner, The Homeless Mind: Modernization and Consciousness (New York: Random House, 1973), pp. 89-95, for an argument of similar conceptual understanding in the West and for an illuminating discussion of how the process of modernity and the disintegration of traditional social institutions led to the transition from the particularistic concept of “honor” to the universalistic concept of “human dignity”.
 
[34]      Mencius, 2A: 6.
 
[35]      Analects, 15: 24.
 
[36]      Analects, 12: 2.
 
[37]       For a general argument that “good” is an indefinable, non-natural quality, see G.E. Moore, Principia Ethica (Amherst, New York: Prometheus Books, 1902 [1988]), pp. 2-21, and further discussion in Mackie, ibid., pp. 50-63.
 
[38]       This is recognized even by the utilitarianist J.S. Mill, who argues that the “sense of dignity, which all human beings possess in one form or other” is identified with one’s “unwillingness ... to sink into what he feels to be a lower grade of existence.”  In Utilitarianism, Ch. 2; from Spiegelberg, ibid., p. 64, n. ii.
 
[39]       “A gentleman is friendly, but do not follow blindly.” In Principle of the Mean, sec. 10; see Legge, ibid., p. 7.
 
[40]      Analects, 20: 2; see Legge, ibid., p. 183.
 
[41]      Ibid.
 
[42]      Principle of the Mean, sec. 33.
 
[43]       “A gentleman can stay with his poverty; but a poor littleman will do anything [to improve his lot].” In Analects, 15: 2.
 
[44]       For a Greek but similar description of the “great man”, see Aristotle, The Nicomachean Ethics (trans. David Ross, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1980), pp. 89-95.  Compare Max Weber, The Religion of China (trans. Hans H. Gerth, New York: Free Press, 1951), pp. 228-229 for the contrast between “shame culture” and “guilt culture” in the west, which presupposes the original sin in human nature.
 
[45]      Analects, 13: 20; see Legge, ibid., p. 113.
 
[46]      Mencius, 4B: 8.
 
[47]      Analects, 14: 27.
 
[48]      Mencius, 4B: 18.
 
[49]      See Mencius, 5B: 4.
 
[50]      Analects, 11: 24; see Legge, ibid., p. 89.
 
[51]       Mencius, 6A: 10.  The distaste for the lack of respect is clearly expressed by Mencius: “To feed a man without love, is to treat him as a pig; to love him without respect, is to keep him as a domestic animal.” In Mencius, 7A: 37.
 
载于《中国哲学杂志》Journal of Chinese Philosophy  September 2000.  27 (3): 299-330.