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Families of VirtueConfucian and Western Views on Childhood Development$
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Erin Cline

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780231171557

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231171557.001.0001

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Infants, Children, and Early Confucian Moral Cultivation

Infants, Children, and Early Confucian Moral Cultivation

(p.40) 2 Infants, Children, and Early Confucian Moral Cultivation
Families of Virtue

Erin M. Cline

Columbia University Press

This chapter delves deeper into what early Confucian thinkers have to say about moral cultivation during childhood, especially in the earliest years of a child's life and youth. It presents three primary questions: First, to what extent is childhood moral cultivation an important part of the views of Kongzi, Mengzi, and Xunzi? Second, are the early years of a child's life viewed as a unique and irreplaceable opportunity for moral cultivation in early Confucianism? The third and final question is how childhood moral cultivation is related to the task of creating a good society. The chapter returns to the three seminal texts—the Analects, the Mengzi, and the Xunzi—and argues that they neglected insights on early moral cultivation. Through further analysis, the three texts suggest that the early Confucians say little about the topic and believe that early childhood is not an important time for ethical conditioning.

Keywords:   Confucianism, moral cultivation, childhood, Kongzi, Mengzi, Xunzi, good society, ethical conditioning

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