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Confucian and Taoist Views on Sexual Morality. Confucianism and Contemporary Moral Issues Chung M. Tse. Basic Moral Concepts. Jen Benevolence and love Class of virtues: wisdom, courage, confidence, gravity, forgiveness, trustworthiness, earnestness, kindness The quality of moral perfection

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confucian and taoist views on sexual morality

Confucian and Taoist Views on Sexual Morality

Confucianism and Contemporary Moral Issues

Chung M. Tse

basic moral concepts
Basic Moral Concepts
  • Jen
    • Benevolence and love
    • Class of virtues: wisdom, courage, confidence, gravity, forgiveness, trustworthiness, earnestness, kindness
    • The quality of moral perfection

Moral perfection: is, negatively, the quality of having no moral deficiency, positively, the ideal state of possessing all possible moral virtues

human nature mencius
Human nature - Mencius
  • A human being is the composite of the elements of greater ti and lesser ti
  • Lesser ti: the physical body with all its attachments and derivatives
  • Greater ti: the moral mind (hsin, jen-mind)

“The mind is … a creatively active faculty for originating moral precepts alone” (238)

  • Confucian Cosmology
  • Ch’I:
    • accounts for the origin of evil
    • In the form of human body, it displays man’s natural qualities and capacities (emotions, senses, desires, temperament, instincts)
  • Evil begins when individuals follow their dispositions of Ch’I to the extent that they defy morality prescribed by the jen-mind
The ultimate judge of morality is the jen-mind
  • Man is a composite being of jen-mind embodied in a configuration of Ch’I
  • acts deriving from the jen-mind are good, acts deriving from Ch’I can be morally agreeable, indifferent, or evil
fundamental principles of confucian ethics
Fundamental principles of Confucian ethics
  • Man must fully actualize the jen-mind activity in his own person and help others to do so (duty) and thus realize a world of Great Harmony
  • Man must respect his own person and that of others, respect is the essence of humanity
  • The jen-mind is in a constant process of self-actualization, every individual is potentially Heaven-in-particular. Thus, everything that which might suppress, subvert, or destroy this potential is forbidden
confucian position on sexual morality
Confucian position on sexual morality
  • Extended view of sexual act
  • Human sexual intercourse is for the purpose of procreation
  • It is to be engaged by couples of opposite sex who are bonded and are willing to take this process to its fruition
  • The act of intercourse initiates many great virtues of the cosmic jen-mind: caring, love, intimacy, union, dynamic harmony, exchange of vital energy, joyful consummation, and creativity
deviation form the norm
Deviation form the norm
  • Incest and bestiality
  • Rape and child molestation
  • Homosexuality
  • Premarital sex
  • Extramarital sex
the taoist view of sex

The Taoist View of Sex

Geoffrey Parrinder


What is the Taoist view of celibacy and sexual abstinence?

  • What sort of explanation do Taoists give for their view?
  • Why was this view opposed by Confucians and Buddhists?
  • What are some of the features of the Taoists view of male-female relationship, marriage, and sexual activity that conflict with the Confucian view described by Tse?
main concepts
Main concepts
  • Taoist symbolism and metaphorical expression of sexual intercourse
  • Yin and Yang
  • The Tao
  • Rich sexual symbolism in Taoist philosophy
Human sexual activity as essential associated with the balancing of principles necessary for human health, strength, and longevity
  • Cultivation of sexual energy, mutual exchange of yin and yang essences
  • Sexual intercourse: increase vigor and bring long life
  • Two purposes: procreation and the increase of male energy