Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Humanity and Righteousness

The supreme task of the intellect is the clarification of what is right, and the greatest foundation of the will is humanity; therefore, the constant concern of the superior man is for humanity and righteousness. These two things are related to each other, and neither the one nor the other can be neglected. But it is only after the intellect has made it clear that humanity is good that the will is able to develop an affection for it and to preserve it; and it is only after the will has formed an affection for righteousness that the intellect will examine it an seek after it. But humanity is the essence of righteousness, so that a man who is rich in humanity is bound to have an intellect capable of even greater understanding. Thus the education of a superior man is principally concerned with humanity.

Matteo Ricci, The True Meaning of the Lord of Heaven,  Chapter 7, Section 451 [Lancashire and Hu Kuo-chen, trs., rev. ed. by Meynard, Institute of Jesuit Sources, Boston College (Boston: 2016), p. 299]. The Chinese words for humanity and righteousness are ren and yi, which are two of the Five Constant Virtues of Confucianism. This is part of discussion that is interesting in part because it is of an Aristotelian, broadly speaking, who is speaking in a Confucian idiom.

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