Volume 43, Issue 4, December 2003
The Moral Self in Confucius and Aristotle
My purpose is to argue the following theses: (1) Habituation into virtue, social relations, and paradigmatic persons are central for both Aristotle and Confucius. Both therefore need a notion of self to support them. (2) Aristotle’s individualistic metaphysics cannot account for the thick relations that this requires. (3) The Confucian self, if entirely relationistic, cannot function as a locus of choice and agency; if fully ritualistic, it cannot function as a source of moral norms that might help assess existing social proprieties. I shall suggest that each offers some corrective for the other and urge further dialogue between the friends of Confucius and Aristotle.