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International Philosophical Quarterly

Volume 58, Issue 1, March 2018

Yinghua Lu
Pages 5-18

Shame and the Confucian Idea of Yi (Righteousness)

This paper analyzes the relation between shame and a Confucian notion of yi (righteousness, rightness), especially through discussions from Confucius and Mencius. Section one clarifies Mencius’s position that righteousness is both external and internal. Although this idea includes rules, it is primarily something intended by our innate moral feelings. Section two illustrates the point that if one’s action is not right (yi), the feeling of shame spontaneously arises and motivates a self-correction. This section also clarifies the difference between the idea of shame in Max Scheler and in Confucian thought. Section three compares absolute yi with general li (ritual propriety) as well as the roles that shame and duty play in relation to ren (primarily humane love).

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