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Remastering Morals with Aristotle and Confucius

2 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0521870931
ISBN-10: 0521870933
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Editorial Reviews


"One comes away from this volume with the feeling that one has audited a brilliant conversation between Confucius and Aristotle...A not-significant contribution of this volume is that Sim, in reading Aristotle through a Confucian lens, brings out aspects of Aristotle that are often overlooked by Western eyes accustomed to reading him in the light of metaphysics, colored by the subsequent development of his thought in Western moral and political theory."
Jude P. Dougherty, FCS Quarterly

"May Sim's book is an impressive achievement and should be read by anyone interested in Confucius, Aristotle, or the project of comparative philosophy." --Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy

Book Description

Aristotle and Confucius are pivotal figures in world history; nevertheless, Western and Eastern cultures have in modern times largely abandoned the insights of these masters. Remastering Morals, first published in 2007, provides a book-length scholarly comparison of the ethics of Aristotle and Confucius.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 138 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (June 18, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521870933
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521870931
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,123,649 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By DocCaligari on September 11, 2008
Format: Hardcover
In some ways, Aristotle and Confucius seem like promising subjects for comparative philosophy. Both emphasize the cultivation of virtue and flexible responsiveness to concrete situations over abstract moral rules. However, Aristotle and Confucius have importantly different conceptions of what it is to live well. For Aristotle, the life of the theoretical scholar (the scientist or philosopher) can be intrinsically worthwhile, and the family exists only as a tool for producing and maintaining virtuous individuals. In contrast, Confucius thinks that learning must always be in the service of society, and full virtue can be exercised just by being a good father, mother, son or daughter. Furthermore, some have argued that Confucius is actually more like "postmodern" critics of Aristotle than Aristotle himself.

In this book, May Sim begins by arguing against those who see Confucius as fundamentally unlike Aristotle. She says that Confucius's "commonsense" view of the self and reality is not identical with that of Aristotle, but is generally consistent with it. She then goes into a detailed comparison, noting (with a subtle eye) the similarities and differences between Aristotle and Confucius. She focuses in particular on four issues: virtue as a "mean" between extremes (e.g., courage is a mean between rashness and cowardice), the characteristics of the ethical "self," the connection between politics and virtue, and the relationship between friendship and virtue.

This book is written in an accessible manner, so non-scholars can understand it. However, it does go into detail on some technical issues, so it is not for casual readers unwilling to read slowly and thoughtfully.
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This book is part of Sim's larger project of dialoging across a variety of traditions in ethics to see how one tradition, can challenge, supplement or correct another. The book has an interesting answer to how Confucianism can benefit from interactions with Aristotelians and vice versa. Of particular interest is her challenge to those, like MacIntyre, who hold that these two traditions have incommensurable differences that would block or significantly hinder mutual understanding. I highly recommend this book, it is sensitive to important nuances of both Aristotelian and Confucian thought.
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