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Chinese History and CultureSixth Century B.C.E. to Seventeenth Century$
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Ying-shih Yü

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780231178587

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231178587.001.0001

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Confucian Ethics and Capitalism

Confucian Ethics and Capitalism

Chapter:
(p.208) 10. Confucian Ethics and Capitalism
Source:
Chinese History and Culture
Author(s):

Ying-shih Yü

, Josephine Chiu-Duke, Michael S. Duke
Publisher:
Columbia University Press
DOI:10.7312/columbia/9780231178587.003.0010

This essay disputes Weberian ideas of how Confucian thought prevented capitalistic development in China. Accepting Fernand Braudel’s separation of capitalism from market economy, it outlines the evolution of business culture and a market economy and their relation to Confucian ethics in Chinese history. It argues that Confucian ideas about industry, frugality and the preciousness of time, and Chinese merchants’ ethical qualities such as cheng (sincerity), xin (trustworthiness), and buqi (non-deception), combined with an “immortality anxiety” led the Chinese market to undergo a “process of rationalization” between 1500 and 1800 even though it did not lead to the rise of capitalism.

Keywords:   Chan, Neo-Confucianism, Confucian thought, Fernand Braudel, Weberian ideas, Merchants, cheng, xin, immortality anxiety

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