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Tsing Hua Journal of Chinese Studies
ISSN 0577-9170; DOI 10.6503/THJCS


Observation: On the Experiential basis, Approach, and Character of Confucius’s Thought

Vol. 35 No. 1   6/2005    


Observation: On the Experiential basis, Approach, and Character of Confucius’s thought


Yuet-keung Lo









Key words

Confucius, the Analects, observation, the art of observing people, experience, sage


       Scholars of Confucian thought tend to focus on explicating logical consistency and interpretive extrapolation when they discuss the philosophy of Confucius. In so doing, they often overlook the basic fact that ideas are abstract formulations and articulations of concrete experiences in real life which include cognitive, perceptual, emotive processes that are private in the personal psyche, as well as interpersonal interactions negotiated in the social sphere. To avoid reducing the holistic person of Confucius to a conceptual structure of ideas, this essay attempts to demonstrate that the thought of Confucius was solidly grounded in albeit not confined to, concrete life experiences, which were acquired by means of observation and formulated and articulated in abstract concepts that were simulated in the written language. Holistically, then, observation formed the basis of the thought of Confucius, served as his basic approach to human understanding, and characterized his thinking. This essay also shows that the perfection of observation skills, which were physically revealed in extraordinary visual and aural understanding, was integral to Confucius’s concept of the sage.



Author: Yuet-keung Lo
Genre: Article
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