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The Purloined Philosopher: Youzi on Learning by Virtue

William A. Haines
Philosophy East and West
Vol. 58, No. 4 (Oct., 2008), pp. 470-491
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40213535
Page Count: 22
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The Purloined Philosopher: Youzi on Learning by Virtue
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Abstract

This essay is the first general study of the work of You Ruo or Youzi (fl. 470 B.C.E.). It also defends his views and argues that he was an important independent figure in the origins of Confucianism. Youzi is thought to have been a disciple of Confucius, and his work is studied mainly for its insight into Confucius. Hence, his work is seriously misunderstood. In fact Youzi's main views were not shared by Confucius, and the evidence suggests that Youzi did not study with Confucius. Youzi's surviving writings form a tightly coherent whole in style and substance. Together they sketch a powerful general vision of the psychology of the virtues and use it to generate parallel solutions to four basic moral dilemmas. Youzi's thought is highly plausible and directly relevant to current issues in moral theory and practice.

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