Argues that the only way to understand the Confucian vision of the consummate moral life is to take the tradition on its own terms.
In this landmark book, Roger T. Ames examines how the classics of the Confucian canon portray the authentic, ethical human being. He argues that many distinguished commentators on Confucian ethics have explained the fundamental ideas and terms of this distinctively Chinese philosophy by superimposing Western concepts and categories, effectively collapsing this rich tradition into a subcategory of "virtue ethics. " Beginning by addressing the problem of responsible cultural comparisons, Ames then formulates the interpretive context necessary to locate the texts within their own cultural ambiance. Exploring the relational notion of "person" that grounds Confucian philosophy, he pursues a nuanced understanding of the cluster of terms through which Confucian role ethics is expressed. Drawing from Western and Chinese sources, Ames makes a compelling argument that the only way to understand the Confucian vision of the consummate life is to take the tradition on its own terms.
Roger T. Ames is Humanities Chair Professor in the Department of Philosophy at Peking University and Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at the University of Hawai'i. His many books include Human Becomings: Theorizing Persons for Confucian Role Ethics; Confucian Cultures of Authority (coedited with Peter D. Hershock); and Xu Bing and Contemporary Chinese Art: Cultural and Philosophical Reflections (coedited with Hsingyuan Tsao), all published by SUNY Press.
"…an ambitious and significant exposition of Confucianism. " — Frontiers of Philosophy in China
"…Ames ultimately taps into a still more powerful picture of humanity—one that denies the worth of both Dionysian or Apollonian activities (no easy task), one that would have us accept our human limitations even as we work to hone our distinctly human capacities to cooperate in more perfect unions. " — Journal of Chinese Studies