ISSN : 1229-0076
The Confucian tradition puts a strong emphasis on practicality. Although this characteristic is often exemplified in the Confucian firm advocates for filial piety and brotherly respect, faithfulness and sincerity, and the sense of propriety, justice, honesty, and honor in one’s daily life, what clearly shows the practical philosophy of Confucianism is its concept of li 禮. The establishment of Confucianism was closely connected to the issue of “disruption of li” at Confucius’ time, and it influenced the development of the vital Confucian concepts of humaneness and righteousness. However, li has either hardly been brought up in a discussion in the sphere of Confucian philosophy or has been discussed only in terms of religious ceremonies and practices, social norms, institutions, or cultural phenomena at utmost, rather than being fully explored. If we acknowledge the significance of the role of li in the rise and development of Confucian philosophy, we should reconsider the way in which li has been studied. To this end, in this article, I attempt to explain how the meaning of li transformed from “worship rituals” to “governance norms,” Confucius’ insight into the deterioration of the Zhou rites and its impact on the formation of Confucianism, and Confucius’ philosophical questions about humaneness and righteousness regarding li.