Cookies Policy

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

I accept this policy

Find out more here

The Source of the Idea of Equality in Confucian Thought

No metrics data to plot.
The attempt to load metrics for this article has failed.
The attempt to plot a graph for these metrics has failed.
The full text of this article is not currently available.

Brill’s MyBook program is exclusively available on BrillOnline Books and Journals. Students and scholars affiliated with an institution that has purchased a Brill E-Book on the BrillOnline platform automatically have access to the MyBook option for the title(s) acquired by the Library. Brill MyBook is a print-on-demand paperback copy which is sold at a favorably uniform low price.

Access this article

+ Tax (if applicable)
Add to Favorites
You must be logged in to use this functionality

image of Frontiers of Philosophy in China

Although the traditional society in China was not necessarily a society of equality, and the classical Confucianism did not speak much about the principle of universal equality, in modern times, in the midst of a transformation of value systems, people still find correlating sources within the Confucian tradition that is connected to the modern idea of equality. This essay makes a detailed study on this correlation and points out that ancient Chinese society and the western feudal society are different in terms of social systems and education systems. For example, China has the imperial examination but no patrimonial aristocracy. Confucianism opposed the huge gap between the poor and the rich, and this idea has become a modern tradition in the ideal of “great harmony under the sky,” especially in Kang Youwei’s 康有为 Datong Shu 大同书 (Book of Great Harmony). There were also some elements of agricultural socialism and equalitarianism in traditional Confucianism. The potential idea of equality (or reciprocity) in “friendship,” embodied in the principle of Confucian ethics of the Three Bonds and the Five Relations, is explored and explained in a modern way. The theory that the sages are equal with the masses, which originated from the theory of human being’s intrinsic goodness, may be directly connected with modern principle of equality. The modern transformation of equality is both political and ethical. The former is to struggle for individual rights; the latter is to establish moral subjectivity. Therefore, equality between sages and the masses manifests modernity. Like the epistemic subjectivity, which could not be discussed without referring to group-individual relationship, the moral subjectivity also contains a consciousness of equality.


Full text loading...


Data & Media loading...

Article metrics loading...



Can't access your account?
  • Tools

  • Add to Favorites
  • Printable version
  • Email this page
  • Subscribe to ToC alert
  • Get permissions
  • Recommend to your library

    You must fill out fields marked with: *

    Librarian details
    Your details
    Why are you recommending this title?
    Select reason:
    Frontiers of Philosophy in China — Recommend this title to your library
  • Export citations
  • Key

  • Full access
  • Open Access
  • Partial/No accessInformation