Despite the seminal status of Herbert Fingarette's collection of essays, Confucius: The Secular as Sacred, certain lines of criticism have persisted for four decades. The aim of this essay is to rescue Fingarette's analyses from several recurring misconceptions. Attending to Fingarette's methods of analysis and to the light shed by subsequent publications, the following claims are advanced regarding Fingarette's understanding of the Lun yü. (1) Fingarette does not give it a "behaviorist" interpretation. (2) While it does not utilize psychological metaphors or doctrines, it nevertheless affirms that persons have a psychic life and exercise moral agency. (3) Indeed, a "moral self" underlies an authentic (egoless) "bearer of roles." (4) It reveals how "magical power" is at the heart of human virtue embedded in li, but this does not mean either that persons exercise causal power from a distance or that such magical power lacks philosophical significance. (5) Li is epistemologically necessary for what can be interpersonally understood as intelligently appropriate conduct, as references to "performatives" and "forms of life" make clear. (6) Human beings are primarily performers rather than composers of li; nevertheless, right conduct manifests how individuals uniquely cultivate themselves and attain sacred dignity.


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pp. 529-544
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