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« Confucianism is not a Religion | Main | Breaking News! Zhuangzi is right: there is no human nature »

February 23, 2012

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The frame to interpret the burning down stables incident is that the horses were a sign of wealth. It's like if Jay Leno's garage burned down and he asked about the attendants and not his classic cars. Confucius values human beings more than money. I'm sure once he found out about the people, he may have tried to be humane towards any injured horses as well, but circles of concern, you know? :-)

Carl, thanks for the good point. I think you are right: the passage can also speak to Confucius's critique of wealth. But I think the subordination of animals to humans is still in play, as suggested in Analects 3.17: "you love sheep, Kung, but I love Ritual"....

Confucianism is distinguished by its concern for the cultivation of human relations towards a harmonious society rather than one’s relations with the supernatural or natural.

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