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The Chinese Classic of Family Reverence

A Philosophical Translation of the <i>Xiaojing</i>

Henry Rosemont, Jr. & Roger T. Ames

Publication Year: 2009

Few if any philosophical schools have championed family values as persistently as the early Confucians, and a great deal can be learned by attending to what they had to say on the subject. In the Confucian tradition, human morality and the personal realization it inspires are grounded in the cultivation of family feeling. One may even go so far as to say that, for China, family reverence was a necessary condition for developing any of the other human qualities of excellence. On the basis of the present translation of the Xiaojing (Classic of Family Reverence) and supplemental passages found in other early philosophical writings, Professors Rosemont and Ames articulate a specifically Confucian conception of "role ethics" that, in its emphasis on a relational conception of the person, is markedly different from most early and contemporary dominant Western moral theories. This Confucian role ethics takes as its inspiration the perceived necessity of family feeling as the entry point in the development of moral competence and as a guide to the religious life as well. In the lengthy introduction, two senior scholars offer their perspective on the historical, philosophical, and religious dimensions of the Xiaojing. Together with this introduction, a lexicon of key terms presents a context for the Xiaojing and provides guidelines for interpreting the text historically in China as well as suggesting its contemporary significance for all societies. The inclusion of the Chinese text adds yet another dimension to this important study. The Chinese Classic of Family Reverence is sure to appeal to specialists of comparative and Chinese philosophy and to all readers interested in the enduring importance of the family.

Published by: University of Hawai'i Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. ix-x

As educators, we have benefited importantly from having had the opportunity to take a draft version of this monograph into our seminars at Brown University and at the University of Hawai'i, and have discussed and considered carefully the commentary that we received from our students there. It is a matter of both pride and substance that they felt comfortable ...

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Translators' Preface

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pp. xi-xvi

From its origins in the prehistoric past, an ever-evolving Chinese culture has been unique among the world's civilizations, both in terms of its unbroken continuity and in the rich and varied institutional, material, and conceptual artifacts its peoples have produced. At the same time, this richness and variety guarantees that many of these artifacts will have at ...

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pp. 1-104

In attempting to cultivate the proper attitude of and toward family reverence, and to express it appropriately, it is necessary to have a family. This family may be large or small, and may, at least from today's perspective, include surrogate others who are not related by blood or marriage. But a family there must be in order for xiao to be practiced; to attempt to ...

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Classic of Family Reverence (Xiaojing)

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pp. 105-118

Confucius was at leisure in his home, and Master Zeng was attending him.The Master said, "Do you understand how the former kings were able to use the model of their consummate excellence (de) and their vital way (dao) to bring the empire into accord (shun), and how the people on this account were able to attain harmony (he) and to live with each other as good neighbors ...


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pp. 119-128


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pp. 129-132

About the Authors

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p. 133-133

E-ISBN-13: 9780824864637
Print-ISBN-13: 9780824832841

Publication Year: 2009