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Proceedings of the XXII World Congress of Philosophy

Volume 9, 2008

Confucian Philosophy

Zhou Hai-chun
Pages 145-173


It has limitations to understand “fidelity” of the Analects of Confucius in the thinking pattern of subject-object. The interpretation patterns of self-other and private-public ethics can’t also completely explain the philosophical meaning of “fidelity” in the Analects of Confucius. “Fidelity”, in Confucian theory and practice, has important place, therefore, the paper will try to explore the philosophical meaning of “fidelity” of Confucius from the following suppositions in order to find a new way of philosophical explanation. The suppositions are as the following: First of all, “fidelity” can’t be understood, in Chinese, as a verb which means “faithful to sb”. It is a noun or a gerund. Basing on the distinction of “material world” and “meaning world”, the paper holds that the connotation of “fidelity” has its inner regulation and its meaning is, first of all, regulated not by the material world but by the other contextual logic categories, in this way, it has the characteristic of independence and transcendence. The core meaning of “fidelity” is “center”, the paper calls it as “the centric wisdom” from the epistemological perspective. We suppose that Confucius has presupposed that every life has enough wisdom to know what the affirmative value is. For Confucius, his philosophical thinking on “fidelity” has both traditional heritage and personal innovation. We should pay attention to the latter. Basing on the understanding that takes “fidelity ”as “the centric wisdom”, the paper holds that one of the meanings of “fidelity”, as an ethical concept, in the Analects of Confucius, is personal ethics which includes the reorganization of individual values. One part of the individual value is to recognize and practice the value which is independent of social value. Another part of the value is to practice and exhibit the wisdom of “fidelity” in personal speech and behavior including the spiritual activities. The “fidelity” of the Analects of Confucius, as an ethical concept, has another meaning, i.e. the inter-personal relationship which shows the affirmative value under the guidance of wisdom. The inter-personal relationship under the guidance of wisdom can exhibit the affirmative value and can be called as the “ethical” relation. The main requirements are as the following: we have to bring the reflective factor of “wisdom” into inter-personal relation and, under the guidance of wisdom, try to take our social responsibilities required by the social role, or to abide by the public or the professional ethics. We have to maintain positive value direction in the vertical inter-personal relation which means supervision so as to realize the political affirmation. In the horizontal interpersonal relationship, basing on the individual wisdom, we have to keep the keen feeling of morality so as to realize our affirmative values. The understanding of these meanings concerning the word of “fidelity” is naturally resulted from our concern for the inner logic relation in the Analects of Confucius and for the form of idea-expressing of Confucius.

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