Virtue in Ancient China and Athens Comparison Essay by BrainC

Virtue in Ancient China and Athens
An examination and comparison of the way Confucius and Aristotle viewed the concept of virtue.
# 53433 | 1,136 words | 4 sources | MLA | 2004 | US
Published on Oct 27, 2004 in Philosophy (Eastern) , Philosophy (Ancient Greek)

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Although both have present-day renown as ancient apostles of the virtuous life, in truth, the Chinese philosopher, Confucius, and the Greek philosopher, Aristotle, cannot be strictly and coherently contrasted in their points of view on virtue in a traditional sense of comparison. This paper explains that both philosophers have such substantially different definitions of what ?virtue? may be defined, as within their respective historical, political, and societal circumstances, one cannot elide ?virtue? within the same definitional framework of ancient China and ancient Greece. It shows how both philosophers conceptualized the notion of what constitutes virtue in completely different ways. For Confucius, virtue was a code of conduct, a law or rule of life that ought to be obeyed to create a more harmonious and perfect society. For Aristotle, virtue was a philosophical ideal that attempted to provide human beings with a definition that enabled them to conceive of their lives in a more philosophically efficacious way.

From the Paper:

"The different definitions of virtue between Confucius and Aristotle arise not simply because of difference of temperament or even translation, but of what both saw as their roles as thinkers. Confucius was primarily preoccupied with improving government and society. He was convinced that the problem with his current government and the current state of Chinese society was what he defined as a lacking of virtue or a lack of obedience to the rule of what was good. A truly good public servant, for instance, ?who on confronting danger is prepared to lay down his life, who on confronting gain concentrates on what is right, who when sacrificing concentrates on reverence, who when mourning concentrates on grief should definitely be all right,? as opposed to a self-interested or non-virtuous public servant, only interested in self-gratification. (19:1, Analects) The absence of good public servants in China had led to an absence of good governance."

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