What is it about?

An exploration of the role that aesthetic experience plays in practical judgment, by examining how pleasure or delight (le樂) have functioned in classical Confucian social thought and ethics. Building on the role of pleasure in social and political order - as public spectacle, creating solidarity, securing the ruler's authority, etc, I explore how the meaning of delight (le樂) derives from the features and effects of music (yue樂). Drawing on John Dewey’s aesthetics, I explore an approach to ethics in which delight-like states generated through everyday social interaction are foundational.

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Why is it important?

This paper brings together the contemporary research in everyday aesthetics with the long-standing Confucian interest in aesthetics. It challenges traditional accounts of ethics as being grounded in principle based judgment; it also explores a neglected area of Confucian social thought.


The paper attempts to do justice to the great emphasis on pleasure and delight found in classical Confucian texts but which is rarely discussed in the currently dominant ethical theories.

Andrew Lambert
City University of New York System

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This page is a summary of: From Aesthetics to Ethics: The Place of Delight in Confucian Ethics, Journal of Chinese Philosophy, March 2020, Brill, DOI: 10.1163/15406253-0470304004.
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