Asian studies in Lithuania

Contemporary philosophical controversy on the nature of early Confucian ethics

Author: Vytis Silius
Institute: Vilnius university
Tutor: Prof. dr. Marius Povilas Šaulauskas
Consultant: Prof. dr. Henry Rosemont, Jr., Prof. dr. Roger T. Ames
Author: Vytis Silius
Assertion date: 2014-06-30

The dissertation deals with the controversy between two contemporary Western philosophical interpretations of early Confucian ethics: Confucian virtue ethics and Confucian role ethics. The dissertation not only discusses the different presentations of what constitutes the core characteristics of early Confucian ethics, but also critically reconstructs and analysis the changing Western reception of early Confucian ethics. The two interpretations are compared in order to critically assess the ongoing controversy and to evaluate the prospects of the newly suggested alternative reading of early Confucian ethics as Confucian role ethics. This dissertation aims at demonstrating that Confucian role ethics interpretation places the relational concept of the human as the totality of one’s lived roles and relations at the centre of its explication of early Confucian ethics, and thus tackles both major pitfalls that weaken the now dominant Confucian virtue ethics interpretation: the incommensurability challenge and the marginalization of relational aspect in early Confucian thought. Confucian role ethics interpretation merits further research and development in order to fully reveal its implications; that is, the importance (and the limitations) of relationality as well as the familial and communal roles not only for early Confucianism, but also for contemporary Western philosophical discussions on the scope and nature of ethics and the notion of the human being.

Initiators of the project: Japan foundation VDU