Classical Confucian thought places such great value on individual moral selfcultivation that some suggest a gentleman has little concern for anything else. However, such views neglect the deep Confucian commitment to establishing a moral social order. I argue that the highest Confucian aspiration is putting the Way into effect (xing dao 行道), in society as well as in one’s own life. Individual virtue is valuable in part as an essential means to this goal, and external goods such as wealth and social position also have value so far as they can contribute to it.


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