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The Concept of de(virtue) in the Analects

김형중 1

1고려대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

'De(德)' and its particulars take a central position in Confucian moral theories because Confucianism stresses the completion of moral character by cultivating the mind of individuals. In addition, 'de' is generally understood as 'morality' or 'mature moral character'. However, 'de' in the Analects should not be limited to only these meanings. The concept of 'de' in the text includes different connotations as often seen in the conceptual transitions of a term. Therefore, an attempt to catch the meaning of 'de' within moral metaphysics may cause us to lose its various connotations and what is worse, to bring ambiguity to its definition. Accordingly this essay intends to disclose the different meanings of 'de' in the Analects by examining its origin and the changes in its meanings found in texts preceding the Analects. First of all, I shall analyze how the concept of 'de' underwent changes in works prior to the Analects from both value-neutral and value-oriented perspectives. Next, I shall analyze the concept of 'de' in the Analects and compare them with those of the prior texts in order to reveal what meanings of de are preserved or transformed. Lastly, I shall what meanings Confucius attributed to the term 'de.' This research will show the process by which 'de' referred first to both value-neutral and value-oriented behaviors and later to moral connotations through encompassing different senses.

Citation status

* References for papers published after 2022 are currently being built.