volume 39, issue 1, P89-105 2012
DOI: 10.1163/15406253-03901008
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R. A. H. King

Abstract: Ren in the Lunyu is often taken to be virtue; if virtue is taken to be excellence as performing a function, as Plato understands it, this is not persuasive. Nor is it easy to show how ren encompasses or implies all other virtues. Ren is furthermore ambiguous—it is used both in a wide sense and specifically as benevolence; in fact there are at least six accounts of what ren is in the Lunyu. This ambiguity cannot be made harmless by use of speech act theory, since commands, for example, …

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