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Confucian Moral Theory, Five Constant Virtues, and Concept of Ren

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Confucianism is a term that emanates from the Chinese culture that nurtured towards maintaining certain aspects of traditions. Confucianism presents a philosophy that creates its bases on kindness and mutual respect towards other people. The development of the philosophy aimed to create society’s stability and peace where people could coexist with good actions towards each other’s that included right and desirable morals.

Those who reasoned in different aspects that contributed to the Confucian theory became well known as Confucian. The origin of the theory emanated from one man by the name Confucius who played a crucial role in the creation and spread of the theory. In this case, Confucius founded theory based on the reflection of the traditions. More importantly, he made a great reflection on the Han dynasty. With the focus and operations of the Confucius took a different path of reasoning that differed from the arguments and concepts of other leaders and founders of religious traditions in China.

Confucian moral theory and practice

Yao considers the Confucian moral theory and practices through ethical system lenses. The central morality position creates the importance of ethics in society. The dimensions of ethics could be addressed about Confucian thinking. In a more in-depth analysis of the Confucianism, the moral systems are well demonstrated through it. The theory finds the confusion morality having its basis on the family connections in regards to relations between the elder and younger members (Yao & Yao, 2000). In this case, an example of the parent to child or husband to wife relationship represents good examples.

The moral theory revolves in the aspects of the Confucianism that includes many features and characterizations that could come along. For instance, the virtues of humaneness and self-cultivation enrich the realities of the moral theory that has a high expectation of ethical practices (Yao & Yao, 2000). Generally, Confucian ethics are connected with religion and politics that characterizes it. With its ability to create and advocate of better and moral human beings, it is right to equate Confucianism with the definition of a moral system.

In Mencius’ thinking, it is possible to question the costs of doing well. Typically, action taken by a human depends on the decision they make. Thus, most of what happens to a person are in their control. The reflection motivated Mencius’ declaration as naturally right on the rulers where they did to govern the people without the use of implicit knowledge and consent (Kim, 2015). Mencius argues, in the real and expected manner of being human, a person would have to owe a mid that is does bear the pains of the others.

Five constant virtues

The concept of Confucius is based on five constant virtues of the humans that include humaneness, righteousness, propriety, wisdom, and faithfulness. Each of the virtue must be present in a person’s acts for them to have a perfect treatment of others and live in the expectation of Confucianism. Even though the Confucianism theories emanated from many years from the past, a truth that they are constant and unchanged, even modern reasoning that reflects their meanings.

Humanness is observed through the relations of the person top the others. In this case, it’s viewed from any level of the society that includes the family, society and the nation at large (Yao & Yao, 2000). Generally, the concept is believed to come with the compassion and love that happens to all persons we live among. With human nature, one is expected to treat others with a reasonable degree of how they would also like to be treated.

Righteousness considers how people think and act about their point of view. This allows the ability of persons to remain ok in acting in the right ways rather than in ways is that it would not make the peasant to others. Generally, Confucian thoughts are geared towards resistance to temptations that may come along and interfere with one’s righteousness values. Again, attending to one’s duty is motivated by the aspects of righteousness. In this case, having a good righteousness value will, promote the integrity values of a person as well as enable them to remain on the right path. Yao considers righteousness as a fundamental aspect of Confucian thinking (Yao & Yao, 2000).

According to Mencius thinking, humanness and Righteousness are two aspects that serve as core objects of confusion thinking. In this case, humaneness presents the human heart and its desire in the case of acting good to others. Then, righteousness is regarded as a path one takes to have a high level of humaneness nature. Ideally, Mencius considers the heart as the root of humaneness and thus, one would not allow others to endure suffering under his or her watch. The view of the two virtues is connected with human nature understanding. This can be elaborated and extended to the governance where Yao considers those in power; taking the two aspects would act in a better way to their subjects. In this case, the interest of others becomes their concerns (Yao & Yao, 2000). To Mencius, humanness is equated to humanity, and it is the expectation that all people act in that way leading to peace among all people.

With Xunzi thinking, humans are born evil and can only be changed to be suitable depending on various issues (Baek, 2017). In this case, Xunzi offers a contrast to the arguments Mencius that considers humans as naturally good even though they do deviate from it. For Mencius, a backslide comes as a result of the person’s change of behaviours from the original good nature.

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Wisdom is considered as an innate knowledge that equips people to make the right judgment. In this case, making judgments would either presume aspects such as right or wrong. This would also include the consideration of actions as either good or evil. Yao considers that, for persons to have the right virtues, they need to have the wisdom that will serve to control them. Interestingly, one would not have the ability to hold onto the rest of the virtues if they are not wise. In this case, they would lack ethics and human virtues.

The show of fidelity and honesty depicts faithfulness. According to Xunzi views, the self-cultivation as a guide towards the change of behaviour from the evil nature to a better state (Baek, 2017). The process considered to follow a way that equips them with the ability to overcome selfish desires. Yao claims that remaining faithful allows the persons to develop good order in all aspects of their behaviours.

Propriety is considered a significant part of the Confucian in that it includes aspects such as loyalty, respect, chastity, and filial piety. In this case, the humans’ behavioural norms are considered, and it does not matter whether they reflect on the ancient or current times. Yao considers that the values presented through propriety are considerably crucial in any setup. This includes respect that is a must. Yao claims that some of the society’s behaviours seem to include abuse of propriety values. This creates the need for society to create rules that enforce the propriety.

Yao explains that the ancient rulers had actual practice the virtues including wisdom, faithfulness, and propriety. In this case, rulers are exported to live and carry on with the five virtues that make them serve the people in a better way.

Concept of Ren

The concept of ren is based on the show of the good experiences and feelings that are focused on human experiences. Ren Confucian virtue is understood through inward expressions. It generally relies on the connection between one people to another. It is generally a concept that innate naturally where all are born with its senses (Yao & Yao, 2000). Therefore, it is not learned but naturally exists within a person. With the reflection of the world and the confusion concepts, there is a high correlation between Ren to grow with the changing aspects of the world at a fast rate. Changes to the world take a rapid pace.

In reflection on the concept of Ren, there is an intense depiction of absolute values of the Confucian thinking; Ren could easily be translated to the attributes of benevolence, perfect virtue, goodness, and the human heartedness. Generally, Ren attributes are accorded to those with sound reasoning and nature that is unique to all. In this case, the perfect beings would be considered in the lines of how the persons are (Yao & Yao, 2000). Humans being cooperating in perfection, manners are not a simple achievement as they tend to have a mix of ethical values. However, following the reasoning of Mencius, it is possible that ren can be a fact possible to humans’ nature. Mencius argues that human nature is generally good and only comes to deviate from their changing characters. In this form, of reasoning, the people have a different form of understanding that makes them change through their selfish means. Ren could be translated as a form of perfect human being that behaves in an ideal way.

In reflection to the leaders and society. Acting with hearted human nature would allow them to have a good sense of human behaviour. With the positive views of the confusion theories, humans are fundamentally good and perfectible. This means they can live in a morality organized manner. Developing the concept of ren would require reawakening of its aspects as it is inborn within the humans.

With the concept, persons are believed to have the ability and will to do the right actions. In this case, they have a caring aspect as they will only tend to act in ways that consider others (Yao & Yao, 2000). Reflecting on leadership, it should only be under the hands of persons with the values considered in the concept of Ren.

According to the Confucians such as the Mencius, the kings lacked aspects of Ren. In this case, they have lousy nature towards other humans where they subject them to oppression and live selfishly with no regard to the people they lead. The humanness virtues are observed and evaluated by the persons. Confucius finds persons lacking humanness, not respectful and do not deserve any chance in leading others in any way. In this case, even the aspects of leading talents such as music would be discouraged if it comes from those with low levels of humanness.


Therefore, wisdom, righteousness, humanness and propriety act as the four standing pillars of the humans. Humanness is a show of compassion and pity, propriety is a show of the person’s compliance, and modesty and the wisdom are characterized by the acts of a person’s on whether they fall on good or bad impacts of others. Concept of Ren, there is an intense depiction of absolute values of the Confucian thinking; Ren could easily be translated to the attributes of benevolence, perfect virtue, goodness, and the human heartedness. Human nature is generally good and only comes to deviate from their changing characters to live in a morality organized manner. Developing the concept of ren would require reawakening of its aspects as it is inborn within the humans.


  1. Baek, J. J. (2017). Hobbes and Xunzi on Human Nature: the Fixed and the Changing.
  2. Kim, R. T. (2015). The Role of Human Nature in Moral Inquiry: Macintyre, Mencius, and Xunzi. History of Philosophy Quarterly, 32(4), 313-333.
  3. Yao, H. C., & Yao, X. (2000). An introduction to Confucianism. Cambridge University Press.

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