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Hsun Tzu on Family and Familial Relations

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The Confucian tradition is often held to have accorded the family a prominent place in their ethics. This paper distinguishes three different senses in which the family is held to be primary in Confucian morality. It then explores Hsun Tzu's views on the family and familial relations. I argue that, while other early Confucians such as Confucius and Mencius would have held the family to be primary in all three senses, Hsun Tzu held the family to be primary in only one of the three senses. In particular, there is textual evidence that Hsun Tzu holds that one's primary obligation is to the ruler of the state, rather than to the immediate family.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: July 1, 2007

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