Confucius's Virtue Politics: Ren as Leadership Virtue

Asian Philosophy 22 (1):15-35 (2012)
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This essay calls attention to an aspect of Confucius's notion of ren that has often been overlooked or even denied in much recent discussion of the topic. While the egalitarian aspect of ren, i.e., the idea that every human being has the potential to become a ren person, is frequently asserted, the leadership dimension of ren has for the most part been given short shrift. I argue that for Confucius, ren is the leadership virtue. This conclusion is mainly based on a careful and systematic analysis of what may be called ?the definitional ren passages? and some ?elucidative ren passages? in the Analects
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