Confucian Heaven: Moral Economy and Contingency

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This paper examines the Confucian concept of tian, conventionally translated into English as “Heaven.‘ The secondary literature on tian has primarily focused on the question of what tian is: e.g., whether tian is an anthropomorphic deity or a naturalistic force, or whether tian is transcendent or immanent. Instead, this paper locates tian with respect to the ethical life of human beings, and argues that the two conflicting concepts of “moral economy‘ and “contingency‘ are main characteristics of tian. This paper further investigates these characteristics in Kongzi’s and Mengzi’s ethical thought: how they conceptualized moral economy and contingency, and how their different conceptualizations shaped their respective ethical programs: Kongzi’s ethics of faith and Mengzi’s ethics of confidence.
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Archival date: 2018-05-27
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On Fate and Fatalism.Solomon, Robert C.

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