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Ethics And Self-Cultivation Practice In Early China

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Chapter Summary

This chapter argues that the vocabulary of ritual performance provides a resource for a test of sincerity of intentions, and that this vocabulary as a result be seen as an integral part of not only early Chinese moral psychology, but also cultivation practice-here defined as practice that alters the actor's dispositions. It treats three texts that focus on qualities of action, showing how cultivation of behaviors and skills was marked by attention to mental or spiritual state of the actor at the moment of action. The domain of this study is the set of pre-imperial texts that focus on three types of self-cultivation: those in ethical discourse that trained readers to develop virtues; those in physical cultivation discourse that trained readers to strengthen their qi and lengthen their lives; and those in spiritual cultivation discourse that trained readers to communicate with tian and spirits in order to receive their blessings.

Keywords: behaviors; Chinese; ethical; moral psychology; ritual performance; self-cultivation Practice; spiritual state



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