Almost 15 years ago when I spent a year in Beijing, much of it spent writing Sagehood, there was relatively little engagement with the idea that Confucian ethics might be helpfully understood through the lens of “virtue ethics.” Quite a lot has changed since then in the Chinese-speaking philosophical world. (OK, that’s an understatement; I’m confining myself to the question of virtue ethics for today.) Consider these 2020 articles:
- Tang Wenming 唐文明, “美德伦理学、儒家传统与现代社会的普遍困境——以陈来《儒学美德论》为中心的讨论 [Virtue Ethics, The Confucian Tradition, and the Universal Predicament of Modern Societies—Taking Chen Lai’s Confucian Virtue Theory as Focus]” (On-line publication on 《儒家网》 here)
- Yang Guorong 杨国荣, “德性、知识与哲学进路——由黄勇新著《当代美德伦理——古代儒家的贡献》引发的若干思考 [Virtue, Knowledge, and the Philosophical Road Ahead—Some Thoughts Prompted by Huang Yong’s Contemporary Virtue Ethics—Contributions from Ancient Confucianism]” (On-line publication on 《儒家网》 here)
Each of these essays, in turn, reacts to a fairly recent book-length publication, also in Chinese, exploring the subject in depth. (Details on the contents of Chen Lai’s book are here; Huang Yong’s are here.)
You might reasonably expect given what I’ve written so far that I’d now go on to explain and engage with the details of Prof. Tang and Prof. Yang’s take on virtue ethics and Confucianism. Alas, it’s all I can do right now to find time to share this much! Perhaps after classes are over….