Here and there I have argued that Confucius did not think family virtue is the root of ren 仁; far from it. In defense of that claim I’ll now try to answer the question: how then do so many scholars think he did?
I made my arguments about Confucius without taking into account Youzi’s statement at 1.2. I argued that the Confucius material in the Analects doesn’t see family virtue as the root of ren.
But most Confucius scholars assume that 1.2, as they understand it, is good evidence of Confucius’ views.
And normally the wide and longstanding consensus of scholars on a simple key point like that carries great authority. That might seem sufficient reason to dismiss my arguments about Confucius’ views.
There are several ways to reply.
One way is to give evidence and argument to show that Youzi was not a student of Confucius, and the two were probably not acquainted. I do that in my paper “The Purloined Philsopher” (PEW 58.4).
A second way is to give evidence and argument to show that Youzi did not imply that family virtue is the root of ren. I do that here. Still, Youzi comes closer to that view than the Confucius material does.
A third way is to give evidence and argument to show directly that the consensus of scholars lacks authority: I mean the consensus on the point that Youzi’s words are evidence of Confucius’ views. That’s what I’ll try to do now, in two Comments below this post.
I hope this project and the others linked above will be helpful also toward evaluating the authenticity of early records. To evaluate the authenticity of any given set of records, it is essential to reason as well as we can about what they and other records might say. Fortunately, there is potential for progress in that area.