臺大哲學系學術討論會：Confucian Care with Distinctions and Internal Moral Cultivation
主講人：Prof. Dobin Choi (University lecturer, Institute for Philosophy, Leiden University, Netherlands)
主 題：Confucian Care with Distinctions and Internal Moral Cultivation
地 點：臺灣大學水源校區哲學系館三樓 302室（台北市思源街18號）
Speaker: Prof. Dobin Choi (University lecturer, Institute for Philosophy, Leiden University, Netherlands)
Title: Confucian Care with Distinctions and Internal Moral Cultivation
Date: 10:00 – 12:00 am, Tuesday, October 3, 2023
Venue: Conference Room 302, Department of Philosophy, ShuiYuan Campus, National Taiwan University (18, SiYuan Street, Taipei)
In this essay, I explore the rationale underpinning the conviction held by Confucians regarding the efficacy of their principle of “caring with distinctions” and “love with gradation” [差別愛] in facilitating the cultivation of virtues, specifically benevolence (仁). This principle of differentiated love finds its vivid representation in Mengzi’s method of extension—“Treat your elders as elders, and extend it to the elders of others (老吾老，以及人之老)” (M 1A7)—as a means to attain ren and benevolent governance (仁政). Nevertheless, a pertinent question arises: does an agent’s exclusive focus on filial love and parental care genuinely contribute to the enhancement of their inner states and the nurturing of virtuous character in the long term? As Mengzi firmly espouses the necessity and efficacy of differentiated love, elucidating how this principle functions in achieving ren serves to affirm the consistency and coherence of Mengzi’s moral system.
I argue that the method of extension and the concept of differentiated love are contingent upon Mengzi’s distinction between the particular and general hearts of compassion (惻隱之心), a distinction that aligns with David Hume’s (1711-76) examination of the passions of benevolence and compassion. By applying Hume’s demarcation based on “the original constitution of the mind” to Mengzi’s discourse (T 188.8.131.52), I argue that Mengzi’s emphasis on differentiated love is meticulously designed to optimize the activation and sustained engagement of agents’ inherent moral predispositions—the innate sources of moral sentiments residing within their minds. Through the principle of differentiated love, agents can consistently and intensively stimulate these predispositions, leading to the recognition and preservation of the sentimental foundation that underlies the virtue of humanity. Consequently, this process fosters their internal moral development.