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SagehoodThe Contemporary Significance of Neo-Confucian Philosophy$
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Stephen C. Angle

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780195385144

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195385144.001.0001

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Sagely Ease and Moral Perception

Sagely Ease and Moral Perception

(p.113) 7 Sagely Ease and Moral Perception

Stephen C. Angle (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

How is it possible that a sage can act with ease? According to the Analects, Confucius was able to “follow his heart's desire without overstepping the bounds” by the time he reached age seventy. The chapter explores what Wang Yangming means when he says that sages have a “mature commitment” and the relation this bears to his famous doctrine of “the unity of knowledge and action.” This interpretation then provides the grounding both for a novel understanding of Wang Yangming's philosophy itself, and the key to Neo-Confucianism's insightful account of moral perception. The chapter draws on contemporary philosophers like Murdoch and Blum to help flesh out the Neo-Confucian picture, including showing how Murdoch's famous example of a mother and her daughter-in-law (M and D) can help us to better understand the critical Neo-Confucian orientation of “looking for harmony.”

Keywords:   sagely ease, Confucius, Wang Yangming, commitment, unity of knowledge and action, moral perception, Iris Murdoch, Lawrence Blum

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