linked with permission from Asian Philosophy 14:2 (July, 2004)



             The most constructive response to the crisis in moral theory has been the revival of virtue ethics, an ethics that has the advantages of being personal, contextual, and, as this paper will argue, normative as well. The first section offers a general comparative analysis of Confucian and Whiteheadian philosophies, showing their common process orientation and their views of a somatic self united in reason and passion.  The second section contrasts rational with aesthetic order, demonstrating a parallel with analytic and synthetic reason, and showing that rule-based ethics comes under the former and virtue ethics under the latter. The third and final section discusses a Confucian-Whiteheadian aesthetics of virtue, focusing on love as the comprehensive virtue.  The principal goal of the paper is to propose that an appropriation of Confucian virtue ethics will enhance the otherwise slow development of a Euro-American process ethics.


                             Elegant is the virtuous one; he is as if cut, as if filed; as if chiselled,

                                         as if polished; how freshly bright; how refined. . . .

                                                            The Book of Odes #55


                                        Beauty, moral and aesthetic, is the aim of existence.

                                                            Alfred North Whitehead


       All order is. . . aesthetic order, and the moral order is merely certain aspects of aesthetic order.



                                                 The function of reason is the art of life.



                                     To “give style” to one’s character--a great and rare art!

                                                                Friedrich Nietzsche


                           One great defect in what passes as morality is its anaesthetic quality.

                                                                     John Dewey


            Feminist and postmodern critics appear to have placed the final nail in the coffin of the traditional idea of ethics as obedience to a moral code.   For postmodernists universal moral laws are the ethical expression of logocentric and essentialist thinking and are more intelligibly conceived as abstractions from particular moral decision making.  Feminists are more specific in their claim that this type of morality represents one of the most pervasive forms of patriarchy--to wit: the tyranny of the divine father who created the rules and the earthly fathers who have enforced them. Both

deontological and utilitarian perspectives also assume a disembodied, impersonal self, which is a pale and misleading shadow of our own engaged personal agency.  In his book From Morality to Virtue Michael Slote criticizes Kant for his moral asymmetry: e.g., failure to help is wrong only when applied to others and not to the self.  He also critiques utilitarianism for its reductionism and, at least in its Singerian form, unreasonable moral demands such as a voluntary equalization of living standards.

            The most constructive response to the crisis in moral theory has been the revival of virtue ethics, an ethics that has the advantages of being personal, contextual, and, as I will argue, normative as well.  In this paper I will also propose that the best way to refound virtue ethics is to return to the  Greek concept of techne tou biou, literally “craft of life.” The ancients did not distinguish between craft and fine arts and the meaning of techne, even in its Latin form of ars, still retains the meaning of skillful crafting and discipline.  In Greco-Roman culture these techniques were very specific, covering dietetics, economics, and erotics.  In ancient China moral cultivation was intimately connected to the arts, from the art of archery to poetry, music, and dance such that virtually every activity would have both a moral and aesthetic meaning. A Chinese poet of the Book of Odes conceives of moral development as similar to the manufacture of a precious stone.  At birth we are like uncut gems, and we have an obligation to carve and polish our potential in the most unique and beautiful ways possible. In other work[1] I have employed the distinction between craft and fine art to show that the fine arts, particularly the performing arts of music and dance, can serve as a model for a virtue ethics in our times.

            The first section of this paper offers a general comparative analysis of Confucian and Whiteheadian philosophies, showing their common process orientation and their views of a somatic self united in reason and passion.  The second section contrasts rational with aesthetic order, demonstrating a parallel with analytic and synthetic reason, and showing that rule-based ethics comes under the former and virtue ethics under the latter.  In moral and social theory analytic reason and the principle of substitutability supports a social atomism in which persons are interchangeable, either as Kantain moral agents or hedonic maximizers, and come under universal rules and norms.  Synthetic reason rejects substitutability and insists on particular, culturally embodied self-creating persons who are centers of virtues and values. The third and final section discusses a Confucian-Whiteheadian aesthetics of virtue, demonstrating once again that virtue ethics can be personal and contextualist as well as normative.  We will also find both instructive parallels and contrasts in implications from Confucian Heaven and the process God.   It is hoped that Confucian virtue ethics will serve to enhance the otherwise slow development of a Euro-American process ethics.  Robert Neville’s diagnosis of the problem is incisive: “A continuing difficulty with process thought today is the facile slippage from personal language to cosmological language, and then the assumption that a fully elaborated cosmology is a sufficient theory of human person.”[2]  Confucius does not ever provide such a theory, but his eminently personalist aesthetics of virtue complements Whitehead’s aesthetic cosmology very well.  This paper is also a contribution to the philosophical movement in China centering on Whitehead’s philosophy.  A Chinese Center for Process Studies has been established and a recent international conference on Whitehead was held there.



            A very striking and philosophically significant difference stands between Confucian and most European philosophy.  (American process and pragmatic philosophy are instructive exceptions on this point.) The latter generally followed Aristotle in his claim that reason is the essence of being human, but instead of this the Confucians offered a marvelous pun: ren ren*.[3]  The graph ren* is a combination of ren meaning person and the number two, so the concept of relationality is at the origins of this character.  Ren* is variously translated as humanity, benevolence, human heartedness, love, and compassion; and, according to Tu Weiming, it is the comprehensive virtue that allows the perfection of all the others.[4]  At the heart of Confucian ethics is relationality rather than rational autonomy.  Reasoning was of course important for ancient Chinese--their logical canons are impressive even without the syllogism--but reason was never granted the pride of place that relationality was.  This means that self-mastery through reason plays no role in Confucian ethics.  The most direct equivalent of ren* in European philosophy is Buber’s concept of Mitmenschlichkeit, but there is no question that relationality is at the very foundation of Whitehead’s philosophy.  Although there is no evidence that he read any Confucian philosophy, Whitehead nonetheless follows later Confucians in extending relationality to all parts of the cosmos.  Furthermore, like the Confucians Whitehead does not sacrifice rationality because of his emphasis on relationality. Unlike Confucius himself, the neo-Confucians (ca. 1000-1600) most likely because of Buddhist influence, transformed the rituals of li (best translated as “propriety”) into a cosmic ordering principle.

            The Chinese character xin--translated as “mind” or “heart” but best rendered “heart-mind”--represents the “ruler” of the Confucian self. Reason and the passions are united in xin so the dichotomy that has plagued European thought is simply nonexistent. Assuming a thoroughly somatic soul, the Confucius of the Analects does not even oppose heart-mind to the senses and appetites, although this dichotomy does appear later in Mencius (371-289 BCE) and Xunzi (298-238 BCE). Even so Mencius believes that the body is constitutive of personal identity, because the virtues of the good person while "rooted in his heart” manifest themselves “in his face, giving it a sleek appearance.  It also shows in his back and extends to his limbs. . . ” (Mencius 7a21).[5] This means that sages literally "image" the virtues in their bodies and make even more evident the fusion of the good, the elegant, and the beautiful.  Learning li is essentially a “discipline of the body” and that the literal meaning of teaching by example (shenjiao) is “body teaching,” which is to be preferred over teaching by words (yanjiao).[6]  (Although usually translated as “spirit,” shen in human beings frequently refers to the whole psychophysical self.) The learning of li begins with physical exercises such as archery and charioteering and extends to the choreographing of every single bodily movement. This demonstrates the truth of Robert Neville’s observation that “learning the rhythms of one’s own movement is part of learning to perceive the being of others” and thereby confirming our moral connection with them.[7]

            Just as the Confucians believe that all things arise from qi energy--the heart-mind is “refined” qi and the senses and body is “gross” qi--so does Whitehead believe that everything arises out of “creativity.”  (Creativity is atomized as actual occasions so the universe is essentially made up of aesthetic events.) Such an ontology forestalls the bifurcation of nature/self in the ways other philosophers have traditionally done.  For Whitehead this means that there is no split between the mind and the passions and it also means that the self is thoroughly somatic.  John Cobb explains it well: “The dominant occasion [self-soul] can rise to such heights of experience only because the entire body is so organized as to makes this possible.  It is so constructed that there is a constant flow of novelty from all its parts to the brain.”[8] This notion that the body is constitutive of personal identity reminds one of Merleau-Ponty's body-self and his claim that the mind is coextensive with the body.  Whitehead is even more bold in his claim that “we cannot define where a body begins and external nature ends.”[9]  In both Confucian and Whiteheadian visions the sagely self becomes, through Whitehead’s positive and negative prehensions, coextensive with the entire cosmos, or in Mencius the sage fills up the space between Heaven and Earth (Mencius 2a2).

            It almost goes without saying that the Chinese are like Whitehead, first and foremost, process philosophers.  One looks in vain for anything in Chinese thought that corresponds to an unchanging substance.  The fact that the Chinese never had a metaphysics of substance is both an advantage and a disadvantage.  The advantage is that they have a natural way of thinking of the world in process terms, and some sinologists believe that their language frees them from the substantialist traps of Indo-European syntax.   The Chinese word for physics is wu li literally “patterns of organic energy,” and the Neo-Confucians had a notion of vibratory energy that anticipates contemporary physics. The disadvantage is that they never had to devise a sophisticated critique of substance, such as we have in Hegel, Bergson, James, Dewey, Whitehead, and Hartshorne.  With the Daoist focus on nature and the neo-Confucian emphasis on the cosmos, they would have been more sympathetic to Whitehead’s speculative cosmology.  To expand this comparative analysis to neo-Confucianism, as Robert Neville and John H. Berthrong have done,[10] would take us too far from our current topic. The neo-Confucians are just as cosmologically focused as Whitehead, so such a venture would distract from our attempts to construct a more personalist process ethics of virtue.

            Even though Confucius refuses to speak about the nature of self and reality in general,  his view of human nature is thoroughly protean and dynamic.  It is clear that for Confucius human beings are self-creative processes rather than accidental qualities happening to a core unchanging essence, where all value lies either by nature or by the creation of God.  The Confucian self is also thoroughly relational and social.  The addition of “social” is not redundant because the Daoists affirm a relational ontology but they deny that the true self is socially constructed.  This antisocial stance is especially pronounced in those Daoists whose ideal person is the mountain hermit who eschews all social influences from the cities of the plains.  Most dramatic example of the nonsocial is the hundun, an amorphous blob with no openings to the outside world.  In one of the most powerful stories of the Zhuangzi, the kings of the North and South think they are doing the hundun a favor by giving him openings for perception and elimination, but all they do is end up destroying him.[11]

            It is clear that Whitehead’s ontology is both relational and social like the Confucians. Sociality is endemic to Whitehead’s cosmology, which is built up of societies of actual occasions, ranging from the highly ordered societies to loose nexus of occasions. “The universe achieves its values by reason of its coordination into societies of societies, and into societies of societies of societies.”[12]  With regard to the social self, Whitehead and the Confucians have strikingly similar notions about the fusion of subjectivity and objectivity--the fusion of the inner and the outer.  For Whitehead this begins at the micro level where each actual occasion appropriates data from the past and the potentials embodied there and also in God’s initial aim.  The actual occasion then forms its own subjective aim with regard to these data and attains a unique satisfaction about them.  In an organic universe in which interdependence and interpenetration dominates, the best choice for any individual would be one in which self-interest and other-interest coincide as much as possible. Within this metaphysical framework John Cobb has drawn out the following moral implications: “When a person acts on behalf of someone who has won his sympathy, the welfare of the other person has become his interest--it is a new self-interest altered by the genuine concern for the welfare of the other.  Self-interest and altruism merge unproblematically.”[13] We will return to this issue of self-interest and see whether Whitehead is closer to Aristotle, who bases philia on self-love, than Confucius, whose concept of love is truly other-regarding.

            When we contrast the process self of Whitehead and Confucius to the substantial self, either Greco-Roman or Indian, we immediately see the psychological and philosophical advantages of the former. When Epictetus, for example, reflects about the nature of the self he discovers the true self, one that never sleeps and is never compromised by the passions.  Much like the Ved~ntist }tman this spiritual self is unitary, a cosmic self that we share with all human beings and is the basis of our common humanity.  The phrase self-examination (shen du) appears often in Confucian texts, but what Confucians find in their solitude is a not spiritual substance of Stoic-Vedantist or Cartesian variety, neither the dissolution into a universal self nor the solipsism of the egocentric predicament.  Confucian self-examination reveals a self that has its own individual integrity, one that is united with its desires and emotions, and one that is constituted by its relations with others.  Confucians discover a self that is a process rather than a static substance; and they see for themselves the single thread of which Confucius spoke: establishing one’s own character (zhong), the constitution of the self, is related to the establishing of the character of others (shu), the constitution of others.[14]

            Tu Weiming has phrased this Confucian fusion of the inner and the outer in this way:

The more one penetrates into one’s inner self, the more one will be capable of realizing the true nature of one’s human-relatedness. . . . The profound person [junzi] does not practice self-watchfulness [shen du] for the intrinsic value of being alone.  In fact, he sees little significance in solitariness, unless it is totally integrated into the structure of social relations.[15]

In his insightful examination of Hellenistic ethics Michel Foucault claims that the Stoic retreat into the soul serves as a ground for true social practice.[16]   It is clear, however, that no substantialist or essentialist view of the self, which assumes that it is basically atemporal, unchanging, asocial, and nonplural, is able to make this claim intelligible.  Furthermore, neither the Confucian nor Whiteheadian views require us to put care of the self before care of others. Because of the full relationality of self and others, they would find the Greek priority of self over others puzzling and unnecessary.  As Foucault observes: “One must not have the care for others precede the care for self.  The care for self takes moral precedence in the measure that the relationship to self takes ontological precedence.”[17]  If this is correct, then this mitigates significantly Foucault’s claim that Hellenistic ethics was as truly social as he claims it to be.

            One of the most instructive contrasts between a process and a substantial self is that the former is enriched and fortified by relations whereas the latter, being self-sufficient and self-contained, would be destroyed by them, if any relations were possible in the first place. Tu Weiming’s description of the Confucian concept of personal individuation parallels nicely with the Whiteheadian view, which has been described most incisively in Hegelian terms: “the . . . development of individuality is the process by which otherness is internalized and overcome.”[18]  While this is a succinct and accurate way of explaining the process of concresence in an organic universe, the Hegelian view ultimately undermines the fundamental self-interest of each and every actual occasion.  The Hegelian view, expressed by F. H. Bradley as the “private self” having “utterly ceased,”[19] is incompatible with the retention of personal integrity that we have found in Whitehead and Confucius.  We must always remind ourselves that Whitehead was just as much an Aristotelian pluralist as an Hegelian monist, and the former comes forward most prominently in Whitehead’s radical pluralism of discrete and unique actual occasions.

             Aristotle defines human beings as social as well as rational animals, but this dual definition remains an unresolved dichotomy in Aristotle’s moral philosophy.  Jiyuan Yu argues that Aristotle’s clear preference for rational autonomy over social relations appears in his claim that friendship (philia) is primarily based on self-love.  Yu states that “a good person will perform actions in other people’s interests, but that is for the perfection of one’s own character.  If so, when there is a conflict with other agents in pursing the development of their own characters, it is rational for a moral agent to develop his own, rather than curtailing it.”[20] There is no ambivalence at all in the Confucian view that social relations constitute human nature. Yu argues that if we conceive of ren* as filial love, then the expansion of this basic virtue to others gives a secure foundation to a graded altruism and a truly other-regarding view of friendship and love. 

          If we take the cosmos at the level of the actual occasion, we have a concept of self-interest that is clearly more Aristotelian than Confucian.  In one sense the actual occasion is the epitome of self-interest; in fact, its impetus to a complete, self-determined satisfaction fits Paul Tillich’s definition of concupiscence: “the unlimited desire to draw the whole of reality into one’s self.”[21]  There are, however, at least three significant mitigating factors in the Whiteheadian view.  First, at the level of reflective awareness persons can become conscious of the needs of others, and, as Cobb suggests, they can make those needs their own needs. Cobb strikes an eminently Confucian note when he emphasizes the mirco-macro parallel between the actual occasion taking care of its future and parents loving their children.[22]  Second, Cobb conceives of divine initial aims as embodying the creative love of God, which is always committed to maximizing the balance between self-interest and other-interest.  Third, for a Christian Whiteheadian the fulfillment of God’s creative love in Christ makes it a moral imperative to make the needs of others your needs.

            Cobb reminds Christians that the “thrust of the New Testament is to subordinate ethics to love rather than to view love as one ethical requirement among others.”[23]  I choose to read Cobb’s basic point as a recipe for a Whiteheadian virtue ethics:  Jesus and Paul replace a rule-based ethics with other-regarding love as the comprehensive virtue. Finally, this is also an aesthetics of virtue, because Cobb chooses to conceive of God’s creative love in artistic terms.  In Cobb’s Christ in a Pluralistic Age Christ is the power of creative transformation in all things, with contemporary artists leading the way.  Whitehead himself transforms the day of judgment into a harvest of beauty.  It is the business of art to “render the Day of Judgment a success, now.”[24]

            The fact that evil happens even to good people is a challenge to all ethical theories, and the Chinese and Whitehead offer the same innovative solution.  They both conceive of evil as basically discord and a lack of harmony.[25]  Evil does not lie necessarily in the deficiency of human wills or in the body or matter, as the Manicheans held.  This means that evil is nothing desired, at least at the micro level, because every actual occasion’s satisfaction is good by definition.  For Whitehead evil definitely does arise at the level of the conscious will, but this is primarily the result of discord among actual occasions, which always fall short of the initial aims provided by God.  (“A new actuality may appear in the wrong society. . . [and] insistence on birth in the wrong season is the trick of evil.”)[26] Moreover, evil is unavoidable, because “perpetual perishing” is the “ultimate evil,”[27] which is only partially overcome in God’s consequent nature, where all past value is “recirculated” for new initial aims.  Thus, evil is not only a loss of what might have been, but more fundamentally a partial loss of what has been. Harmony and balance are aesthetic qualities, so this means that the overcoming of evil for Chinese and Whiteheadians involve both a moral and aesthetic imperative.

            Whitehead’s insight that the loss of the moment’s intensity and value is a great evil is not found in Asia except for perhaps the Buddha’s first Noble Truth. The two thinkers even offer a similar solution (Nirvana/Peace), but Buddhists do not experience this truth with the same sense of deep tragedy that Whitehead does.  According to Belaief’s interpretation of Whitehead, an honest recognition of perpetual perishing should lead one to a feeling of guilt– “a noble guilt, freely chosen as an ethical burden of finitude.”[28]  The end state of peace may be the same, but the means are significantly different.  Perpetual perishing leads the Buddhist in a psychological direction--the cessation of craving and attachment--but it leads the Whiteheadian to religion and the question of the justice of God.  In one sense, however, we could say that the Pali Buddhist view is more tragic: there is no God to redeem time; it simply flows into nothingness.  (The loss of the present is not a problem for Mahayanists who deny the reality of time.)

            Whitehead’s principle that if a thing is actual then it has some value precludes any separation of reality into the valuable and the valueless.  He therefore joins the ancient consensus about the unity of being, goodness, and beauty.  The Confucian concept of sincerity (cheng) proves to be a productive point of entry for a comparative analysis of these issues.  When Confucians attribute sincerity to Heaven, which to them is essentially impersonal Providence, they mean that Heaven will always be true to itself.  Social customs (li), the proper ways to do things, are modeled on Heaven because it is always constant and predictable.  The sages’ sincerity also means that they will be true to themselves.  Robert Neville aptly translates Confucian sincerity into Whiteheadian terms: “An occasion should objectify its data ‘truly,’ preserving their individually attained values, and superject to its successors the best potentialities.”[29]  At the level of personal agency this means that “moral subjective concresence should respect the values of what it prehends and what will prehend it later.”[29]   In a grand alliance of fact, value, and the aesthetic Neville also sees that “sincerity is the peculiar harmony that maximizes both inner elegance and outer virtue.”[30]  In so far as the actual occasion can be said to be true to itself and free in its self-determination, it can be said to have character, at least in a way analogous to human character and virtue.

            Note that Confucian li is not found in Heaven, but it is created by humans using the regularities of Heaven as a model.  For the neo-Confucians li is attributed to Heaven, but here it means basic principle or essence--both in a general and specific sense.  (A rough Whiteheadian parallel would be general “categoreal obligations” and particular “eternal objects.”) Therefore, Heaven is not specifically moral and neither does any Confucian thinker say that its value is aesthetic. Whitehead is much more explicit: he holds that truth applies only to conformation to appearances, while beauty is “realized in actual occasions which are the completely real things in the universe.”[31] For Whitehead all order is ultimately aesthetic order: “The actual world is the outcome of the aesthetic order and the aesthetic order is derived from the immanence of God.”[32] Charles Hartshorne agrees: “Aesthetic values are universal; they apply to all life--and they apply to God. . . . The value of the world is its beauty for God.”[33] 

            Given any particular moral dilemma--e.g., the survival of the Nile River fluke versus the survival of Egyptian peasants--the Whiteheadian God cannot possibly choose between them. (Neither can the Confucian Heaven.)  Indeed, God must offer the best initial aims for each group of creatures, and best here means that which will bring about a balance of harmony, peace, and novelty in the cosmos.  Whitehead’s God is nonjudgmental in the primordial nature (the origin of initial aims) and also in the consequent nature, which takes in all experience regardless of value.  Evil is not eliminated by a destructive retributive judgment, but by an aesthetic synthesis of  intensity, order, and harmony. Whitehead’s God is not a cosmic judge; rather, God is a cosmic artist.  The many poor paintings of individual lives and events are transformed in a continuous aesthetic process of harmonizing the parts with an ideal whole in mind.  As Whitehead states: “There is then the evil of triviality–a sketch in place of a full picture.”[34]  In this passage from Process and Reality the metaphor changes from painting to poetry:  “[God] does not create the world; he saves it: or, more accurately, he is the poet of the world, with tender patience leading it by his vision of truth, beauty, and goodness.”[35]



            Before turning to a Confucian-Whiteheadian aesthetics of virtue, we need to work more generally with the concepts of rational and aesthetic order.  Our word “reason” goes back to the Greek verb lego, the verbal noun of which is the famous word logos, which was translated as the Latin  ratio.   Lego has two principal meanings: “to say” (hence the Word of John’s logos) and “to put together” (related to lechos as the marital couch).  (As Whitehead states: “Logic starts with primitive ideas and puts them together.”)[36] The most general definition of rationality that we could draw from this etymology is the following: “Rational beings are those beings who are able to put their world together so that it makes sense to them.”  We could then say that in addition to analytic reason, one that is prescriptive and insists on universal laws of thinking, there is also synthetic reason, which is descriptive and does not bind us to the laws of logic.[36](37)

            Synthetic reason has generally been passive in the sense that most people have accepted the way religious and cultural institutions have put their world together for them.  Traditional religions, then, are constantly involved in re-lego, faithfully repeating the words (logia) and ritually putting the world together again and again according to the accepted ways.  Synthetic reason, however, can also be active, creative, and even anarchic, defying the old rules and proposing new ways of looking at the world.  Cezanne, for example, rejected the laws of perspective and ushered in a whole new way of doing art.  Scientists working on the cutting edge go with their intuitions and aesthetic instincts, putting together the most elegant and sometimes daring new theories.  Only afterward are they tested by analytic reason, whereas both artists and virtuous persons rightly resist such testing.          

Let us now relate synthetic reason to the distinction between rational and aesthetic order.[36](38)  By abstracting from the particular, rational order, the analytic reason mentioned above, is ultimately indifferent to concrete individuals because it generates the rule of complete substitutability.  For example, p's and q's can stand for any word in any natural language, just as in classical physics one atom can take the place of any other atom without changing the whole.  The discovery of intimately paired subatomic particles undermines the basic assumptions of classical physics and demonstrates that the universe is far more organic than mechanical.  This discredits even more the theory of social atomism and vindicates Whitehead’s analogy of organism.  The actual occasion is definitely not interchangeable with others; rather, it constitutes a unique appropriation of the data of the world.  As we shall see, Whitehead’s cosmos is therefore constituted by aesthetic rather than rational order; it is not a simple sum of interchangeable parts.

             In moral theory the idea of substitution finds its ultimate expression in the interchangeability of the sovereign in Kant’s Kingdom of Ends.  Any truly autonomous self would promulgate the same laws as any other rational being and these laws would be universal and binding by virtue of the categorical imperative. An equivalent uniformity is obtained in the modern bureaucratic state where individuals are leveled and made abstract by social rules and regulations.  Even libertarians who criticize the welfare state for these indignities share the same axiom of social atomism with their social utilitarian opponents.  Regardless of context and circumstance, the social atom of classical economic theory can take the place of any other agent. 

            In the Analects Confucius says that virtuous persons (junzi) “seek harmony not sameness; petty persons, then, are the opposite” (13.23).[36](39)  David Hall and Roger Ames propose a contrast between the rational order of liberal democracy in the sameness of consensus making and the junzi’s attempt to harmonize among real differences.[36](40)  They refer to a culinary analogy in a commentary on Analects 13.23 on which I would like expand.  The recipe could be seen as an explicit formula for the rational ordering of the ingredients.  But any cook knows that a truly tasty dish is not guaranteed by merely following the recipe.  Rather, good cooks must judge the nature and condition of their ingredients and as the dish is near completion they must adjust the seasonings.  Those who follow the li in all their social roles must make the same personal judgments and appropriate adjustments, using the capacity found in what Confucius calls yi, a term translated traditionally and misleadingly as “righteousness.”  This is the making of aesthetic rather than rational order. Whitehead sums up the difference succinctly: “Logic concentrates attention upon high abstraction, and aesthetics keeps as close to the concrete as the necessities of finite understanding permit.”[37](41)

            Aesthetic order focuses on the concrete particulars so thoroughly that there can be no substitution and no interchangeability.  This applies to the work of art as much as the person of great virtue.  This means that something aesthetic is ordered primarily in terms of internal relations, the basic elements being dependent on one another.  By contrast physical or social atoms are externally related, independent from their environments, and for Kant’s moral agents, immune to their emotions and bodies. Even though Aristotle was the inspiration for the idea of rational autonomy, this applies only to the intellectual virtues and only when Aristotle sees the highest good as pure contemplation. It is important to remember that he joins reason and the passions in the moral virtues and he holds that these virtues are the unique self-creations of practical reason (phronsis).

            Aristotle claims that theoretical reason (nous) would give us a universal law suitable only for the gods.  For human action, however, nous is “deficient,” a flaw corrected by the ability of practical reason to apply it to particular cases.[38](42) Theoretical reason would give us an arithmetic mean between excess and deficiency, thereby fulfilling the criterion of universalizability of deontological ethics. Moral agents will have exactly the same duties, so moral rationalism also conforms to analytic reason's rule of subsitutability.  It should be clear,  however, that such a theory cannot determine any individual action.  For example, one might hold that it is always wrong to eat too much but only individuals themselves can find the mean that is right for them.  Aristotle and Confucius saw moral virtues as relative means derived not from a universal moral calculus but from a careful process of personal discovery.  Aristotle's phronsis and Confucius' yi, the capacity to do what is appropriate, could be seen as the moral expression of synthetic reason and its creative aspects further augment our case for an aesthetics of virtue.

            Analytic reason establishes rational order by reducing the whole to a simple sum of parts, while aesthetic order is synthesized from particulars in such a way that its unity is organic and immune to complete analysis.  Rational order is ruled by universal laws--either physical or moral--while aesthetic order is created by imprecise rules of thumb, by emulating the virtuous person or master artist, and self-creation by practical reason.  Rational order can be articulated in precise language, but no one can tell us explicitly how to be a good person or a great artist.  Rational order involves "knowing that" whereas aesthetic order is produced by "knowing how"; the former can be said and cognized, the latter can only be shown in practice.  Commentators and disciples alike bemoan the fact that Confucius never defined ren*, but they should have realized that the Master, without ever thinking about the distinction between rational and aesthetic order, knew that it could not be done.    

            Applying this concept of aesthetic order Hall and Ames portray Confucian sages as virtuoso performers who use their yi (that which is right for them) to create their own unique style of appropriating the social patterns (li) of their community.  To use the language of Merleau-Ponty, Confucian sages involve themselves in a process of personal Sinngebung, a centrifugal process of meaning giving to the centripetal influx of social norms. For Merleau-Ponty, Whitehead, and the Confucians human freedom and creativity happens right at the intersection of this internal-external dynamic.  (Unlike many most European theories of personal agency, these views always involve a fusion of the inner and the outer.)  The ren* person is a work of fine art, something wholly unique and distinctive.  Whereas the craft potter makes thousands of mugs from the same mold, the ceramic sculptor makes one singular work.

            Ames and Rosemont’s inelegant translation of ren* as “authoritative person” plays on the dual meanings of authority and creative authoring and leads to helpful translations such as: “Becoming authoritative in one’s conduct is self-originating–how could it originate with others?” (12.1). Ames and Rosemont also observe that li is “profoundly different from law” because it can be personalized and stylized.  A standard translation of li as “propriety” takes on deeper meaning when we are reminded that the English word comes from the Latin propius–“making something one’s own.”[38](43) This achievement is both moral and aesthetic because it results in the embodiment of the good (li) and the personal creation of an elegant, harmonious, and balanced soul.  The beauty of such a creation is reflected in the person’s demeanor as well as her face, limbs, and back, as Mencius told us above.  Chinese sages are so unified with their instruments (e.g., Butcher Ding’s knife in the Zhuangzi) and their bodies that their actions appear effortless and magical.  The emperor sits with his back to the North Star, does nothing, and all is right with the empire.  It is in this meaning of wu wei (effortless action) that both Confucianism and Daoism are united in an aesthetics of virtue.



            In her insightful book on Whitehead’s ethics Lynne Belaief claims that “the East often identifies the aesthetic and the ethical levels, reducing the latter to the former.”[39](44) She goes on to say that Asian philosophy pays scant attention to a “specific categoreal analysis of man” and does not have sufficient appreciation for the tragic in human affairs.  This is a faulty generalization for several reasons, but she is correct about tragedy.  In the Indian tradition this is most likely due to a distinction between freedom of the will and absolute freedom, one that Belaief refers to earlier in her book.  Jainism and Sankhya-Yoga do claim that human beings have the power to fully transcend both their bodies and nature, a view I have called “spiritual Titanism,”[40](45) and this total freedom does eliminate frustration and failure from human life. 

            Systematic analysis is indeed alien to early Confucian thinking, but not to most Indian philosophy, where, for example, Sankhya philosophy and the Buddhist Abhidharma contain very sophisticated schemes and their corresponding elements.  The literal meaning of Sankhya is “discrimination” and one is not liberated until one understands every detail of the cosmic system.  Perhaps Belaief has a very broad conception of the aesthetic, but it is only the Chinese among Asian philosophers who explicitly relate the aesthetic and the ethical.  They do not, however, identify them, or place the aesthetic above the ethical as Whitehead definitely does.

            Belaief’s excellent summary of the goals of a Whiteheadian ethic enhances our continuing comparative study with Confucian moral philosophy:

morality require[s] the decision to transcend one’s own desires . . . In this transcendence, achieved in the intuition of peace, one commits himself to a life of adventurous creativity, aimed toward increasing harmony and intensity of experience for oneself and others.  The aim is ultimately judged by the claims of love.[41](46)

The transcending of personal desires, the aesthetic qualities of harmony and intensity, the coincidence of self-interest and other-interest, and the focus on love all resonate well with Confucian virtue ethics.  “Adventurous” and “intensity,” however, are not words found very often in Confucian texts.  Indeed, while Confucian sages are allowed a personal appropriation of tradition, outright innovation may very well be un-Confucian.  Although Confucius claimed that he did not innovate, his concepts of ren* and yi are essentially new formulations. The aesthetics of virtue should be seen on a continuum from a craft excellence within the bounds of social customs to a Nietzschean self-creation of the individual without regard for norms.  Whitehead appears to stand in the middle of this continuum, emphasizing personal appropriation of norms but also novel deviations therefrom.  For Whitehead wisdom is a necessary part of adventure and its lack may be the reason why so many contemporary artists fail.  Novelty and order must go hand in hand, for “novelty may promote or destroy; it may be good or bad.”[42](47)

            Nevertheless, Whitehead believes that order in the form of fixed moral codes is an “illusion which has vitiated much philosophy.”[43](48) Like physical laws, moral laws are abstractions from patterns and habits in the world. It is no accident that the concept of a fixed moral code has gone hand in hand with the idea of a substantial self.  If the true self is static and unchanging, then rules for its behavior will have similar qualities.  Substantialist views of a universal Self in Hinduism, Mahayana Buddhism, and Christianity appear to promote a self-sacrificial ethic, arguably because this Self is always to preferred over the ego self, viz., “Not I but Christ,” “Not I but the Buddha nature,” or “Not I but Atman.” The substantial self also erects a wall between itself and the world, such that the natural social nexus of personhood is obscured or even denied.   If the reality of the individual self is preserved, as opposed to the Indian and Christian views just mentioned, then substance metaphysics takes us to the other extreme of solipsism and the egocentric predicament.  As Whitehead states: “The doctrine of minds, as independent substances, leads directly not merely to private worlds of experience, but also to private worlds of morals.  The moral intuitions can be held to apply only to the strictly private world of psychical experience.”[44](49)  Whitehead then shows how this intensified the split, already set into motion by the scientific materialism, between a private realm of value and a valueless external world.

            Virtues are basic dispositions to act in specific ways and as such they are based in our affective natures. Thinking of yi as a capacity for premoral discrimination is particularity helpful in understanding why the ren* person, who presumably uses yi, is “capable of liking or disliking other men” (Analects 4.3).  John Goheen helps us refocus our comparative study by noting that Whitehead is like Hume, “who held that knowledge of value can be had by setting down the likes and dislikes of men,”[45](50) which then form the basis for general ideas of good and evil.  In Whitehead’s theory of prehensions this insight is generalized in the paired concepts of adversion and aversion.[46](51)  An eternal object chosen under an adverse feeling will be enhanced and enforced, whereas just the opposite happens under feelings of aversion.  At the level of virtue formation, dispositions that are chosen under a conceptual ideal of the Good will become habitual behaviors that bring joy and welfare to all.  In her critique of Alasdair MacIntyre from a process perspective, Lisa Bellantoni counters his overemphasis on the cognitive by pointing to the “proto-normative” forces at the premoral level of prehension and causal efficacy.[47](52)  If the virtues are practices, as MacIntyre’s proposes, then the practice of the virtues will depend largely on an affective “operative intentionality” rather than a cognitive “act intentionality” (using terms from phenomenology).

            The process self clearly lends itself to virtue ethics, and Whitehead’s language is certainly supportive of this move.  He says that the aim of morality is “to maximize importance” and “greatest of experience.”[48](53) Wisdom is defined quasi-aesthetically as “greatness”: “Moral education is impossible apart from the habitual vision of greatness.  The sense of greatness is the ground work of morals.”[49](54) Making this an aesthetics of virtue Whitehead immediately adds the all important elements of “harmony, intensity, and vividness” to this experience. The literal translation of Aristotle’s megalopsychia is “great souled” rather than the “pride” that we normally read. In Confucius and Whitehead, however, this expanded soul does not limit itself to a fraternity of propertied males; rather, it extends into the world at large. For them the goal of morality is the attainment of universal peace and love, the latter virtue most clearly laid out, as we have seen, by process theologians such as John Cobb and Daniel Day Williams. For Confucius and Whitehead this extension is cosmic in scope, because as Belaief states: “Ultimately the aim is to achieve relations with the entire universe of values, actual and ideal in order to knowledgeably introduce that novelty which can best increase value in the world. . . .”[50](55)  More speculative and bold than Confucius, Mencius envisioned that the person of ren*, inspired by a “flood-like” qi, “will fill the space between Heaven and Earth.  It is a qi which unites rightness (yi) and the Way” (2a2).  Ren* is a love that begins in the family and radiates in ever widening circles until “all within the four seas (world) are brothers” (Analects 12.5).

Christian love is significantly different from ren* for at least three reasons.  First, Christian love is more like the unconditional love of the Mohists, because the Confucians held that one must love one’s immediate family and friends more than others.  Second, Cobb embraces the Pauline understanding of love as a divine gift “unattainable by [one’s] own efforts,”[51](56) while Mohists and Confucians are of course thoroughly humanist on this issue.  Third, Confucians would reject the idea that love trumps justice as it does in the Jesus who told us to love our enemies.  When asked what he thought of the Daoist equivalent–“repaying ill will with beneficence (de)”--Confucius rejected it implying that this was unjust: "Then how will you repay beneficence?”  He then concludes: “Repay ill will by remaining true.  Repay beneficence with gratitude” (14.34). Confucius finds it irrational to repay evil with good since there would be no justice in that. But he does not support retaliation either. Instead of returning evil for evil Confucius recommends standing firm in one’s virtue and becoming a model for the other’s moral rehabilitation. This is clear in Confucius’ prescriptions for the ruler:

Lead the people with administrative injunctions and keep them orderly with penal law, and they will avoid punishments but will be without a sense of shame.  Lead with excellence (de) and keep them orderly through observing ritual propriety (li) and they develop a sense of shame, and moreover, will order themselves (2.3).

The distinction between a rule-based ethics and its law and order application and virtue ethics could not be more clearly drawn.  Whitehead might well have joined Christians and Daoists in repaying hate with love, but he would have certainly agreed with the Confucians that retaliation would only add more disvalue to the world and it would also offer the wrong reasons to be moral.  Again an alliance between Whitehead and virtue ethics would appear to be the preferred option.

            As the world becomes more complex and its many different peoples become more interrelated, ethical rules and ethnic customs are becoming more and more difficult to reconcile.  Equipped with a static world-view, with a substantial self residing deep in its history, the conservative response to such a world is sometimes intolerant reaction, sometimes silent withdrawal, sometimes becoming, as Sartre says of the anti-Semite, as durable as stone.  (Dewey’s characterization of rule-based ethics as anaesthetic is particularly apt here.)[52](57) This brave new world, however, is ready made for the process philosopher.  Against the view of the hermetically sealed “good” life, Whitehead’s response, as Belaief explains, is

 a life that contains openness to receive novelty and change as it occurs in the surrounding ethical situation, together with the willingness to respond creatively to this novelty.  If one consciously chooses the lower experience of closure against one’s own knowledge of its inferiority, this would seem to be the very meaning of “sin.”[53] (58)

Discord that may come about when people take risks in being open to the new is not necessarily evil; rather, the static harmony of the closed mind becomes the problem.  As Whitehead says: “Even discord may be preferable to a feeling of slow relapse into general anaesthesia, or into tameness which is its prelude.  Perfection at a low level ranks below imperfection with higher aim.”[54](59) This is why harmony alone is not sufficient for “strength of beauty,” which also includes complexity and intensity.  Cobb offers the example of a wall expertly painted with one pleasant color and a great painting to demonstrate the simple truth of this claim.[55](60)

            The cultural Confucianism of ancient China definitely became allied with the forces of reaction, just as Jesus’ radical message was coopted by conservative priests and emperors.  Breaking with a strict interpretation of li Confucius was willing to embrace a man without relatives and to include him in a universal human family (12.5). Confucius was also not afraid to travel among the barbarians, confident that his moral model would instill virtue among the uncivilized (9.14).  (This is the only time that Confucius admits, albeit indirectly, that he is a truly virtuous person [junzi].)  Whitehead’s distinction between the closed and open person finds an instructive parallel in the Confucian “small or inferior person” and the junzi. The latter thinks of virtue while the former thinks of possessions and profit; the junzi seeks the Way and not a mere living; and the junzi “brings the good things of others to completion” but the inferior man does just the opposite (Analects 4.11, 12, 16; 12.16).  Like Whitehead’s person of “great experience”[56](61) the junzi is expansive and other-regarding while the inferior person is self-regarding and restrictive.  (Whitehead’s narrow person of small mind is “a sketch in place of a full picture,”[57](62) demonstrating once again his pervasive appeal to the aesthetic.) Later Confucians, such as Mencius, continued to emphasize this distinction: “He who nurtures the parts of smaller importance [the senses] is a small man; he who nurtures the parts of greater importance [heart-mind] is a great man” (6a14). Whiteheadians would be happy to note that a person’s greater qualities do include the affective as well as the cognitive elements of the soul.

            The junzi stands in awe of Heaven and knows the Mandate of Heaven (Analects 16.8), and this leads to some notable theological similarities as well as differences with Whitehead.  Neither Whitehead’s God nor Confucian Heaven is a being with sense perception, so Whitehead would agree with Mencius that “Heaven sees as my people see; Heaven hears as my people hear” (5a5). Whether the Confucians also agree with Whitehead that God knows the future only as it is actualized in human history and nature is not clear.  Several passages indicate that the sage can divine the future, but one could interpret this as prediction rather than foreknowledge. The most significant difference between Whitehead’s God and Confucian Heaven is that the latter is strictly nonteleological.  While God’s “initial aim” supplies a specific purpose for literally every actual occasion of experience, Heaven does not offer any specific direction or any aid whatsoever.  (One must remember that contrary to orthodox Christianity, the process God does not have a final goal for the cosmos; rather, God offers a myriad teloi for a myriad actual occasions; a microcosmic teleology rather than a macrocosmic one.) What we have is a very clear distinction between a completely particularized special providence in Whitehead and a very general providence in Confucianism.

            This means that Confucianism is more consistently humanistic than process theology.  This is most dramatically expressed in an emblematic passage in the Analects: “It is the person who is able to broaden the way, not the way that broadens the person” (15.29).  The contrast is seen most clearly in Cobb’s Christology where Christ is the origin of all creative transformation in the world, whereas Confucius locates this initiative in humanity alone.  Confucian sages attain perfection on their own within the constitutive framework of human society, but saints, under Cobb’s view, conform perfectly with God’s initial aims.  The choice to conform is of course free but they are not the saints’ own creation. On the other hand, there is nothing new under the Confucian Heaven, whereas in Christ all things are made new.  The Whiteheadian is a risk taker and an innovator, while the traditional Confucian prefers to appropriate traditional values in a personal way (yi). 

Using a fine arts analogy rather than a craft analogy, a contemporary Confucian could move more in Whitehead’s direction.  The craftsperson makes fine copies of an original model, but the creative artist makes unique and distinctive pieces.  Focusing on performance art, one can still speak of personal appropriation and creation without allowing a single variation in the basic norms.  Even though violin virtuosos are reading the exact same musical score, each them will give the piece a unique interpretation. We should assume that the dances the Confucians performed had a set choreography, but we could easily imagine each having particular styles as varied as all ballerinas do.

A Confucianism aesthetics virtue is, however, role specific just as these examples from the fine arts are.  Even though the younger brother may have his own particular style of deferring to his elder brother, he has no freedom not to defer or take on other roles not appropriate to li.  Similarly, violin players do not switch to the French horn while performing their concertos. Note that none of these examples can be reduced to a mere subjectivism.  In each good objective reasons can be given for the respective interpretations, and not only can we say that a performance is bad form but that it is simply wrong. We have, therefore, fulfilled the promise of the introduction: we have shown that virtue ethics can be normative as well as personalist and contextualist.

            Confucianism may be more humanistic but process theology is much more flexible and progressive.  There is nothing, however, to prevent a contemporary Confucian from embracing the idea of many different cultural li.   Indeed, it would be a natural extension of the principle of yi from the personal to the cultural, from what is appropriate for the individual given the circumstances to what is appropriate for different cultures. Whitehead’s proposal that each environment, whether mirco or macro,  has its “proper perfection” supports this cultural pluralism and it also shows that Whitehead joins ancient virtue ethics in what scholars have called its “perfectionism.”[58](63) The actual occasion selectively appropriating data is analogous to the person choosing among the cultural ideals of a world culture, a Whiteheadian equivalent of Hans-Georg Gadamer’s Horizontsverschmelzung

Against both MacIntyre’s and Derrida’s insistence on the incommensurability of traditions, the Whiteheadian (and the contemporary “Boston” Confucians)[59](64) argue for and point to the overwhelming evidence for the continuity of cultural norms, perhaps the most dramatic being the gradual extension of the moral community from Aristotle’s polis of propertied males, the Christian City of God, Kant’s secular version of this as the Kingdom of Ends, and finally Singer or Regan’s extension to all sentient creation.  The Buddhist Dharmakaya and the Confucian sage filling the space between Heaven and Earth are instructive and significantly earlier Asian parallels. Even though virtues have axiological primacy, moral rules and rights, as abstractions from virtues, still have normative value.  With such a view world citizens would be expected to respect all cultural li as long as they conformed to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  Such a communitarian liberalism would suit both Confucians and Whiteheadians very well.[60](65)

            When one thinks of the question “Which came first--moral rules or virtues?” the obvious answer is that virtues came first.  Moral imperatives are abstractions from thousands of years of observing loyal, honest, patient, just, and compassionate behavior, whereas moral prohibitions have come from negative experiences of the vices.  One could argue that the expression of moral rules requires language and one could argue just as persuasively that virtues manifested themselves in prelinguistic human beings.  (For example, strong circumstantial evidence for compassion among the Neanderthals can be joined with the hypothesis that they were unable to articulate the basic vowels because of a very high larynx.)[61](66) It is even more clear that divine virtues precede divine law, because God’s virtues would remain even if God chose not to create a world. 

            The Pauline view that the Law was created only to manifest human sin further supports a Christian view of its contingency and confirms the idea of a “lawless” God before creation. (For the medieval nominalists the moral law characterizes what God has ordained [potentia ordinata] for a sinful world, and it is not part of God’s potentia absoluta.) This argument for the priority of the divine virtues appears to work only within the framework of classical theology, because God without the world is not possible in Whiteheadian theology.   Whitehead believes that physical laws are simply the habits of the universe, so it would follow that moral laws are derived from the habitual behaviors–the vices and the virtues of humankind. Moral laws would not exist in God either because we have seen that the Whiteheadian God–committed to the aesthetic values of harmony and intensity–could not be a moral legislator or judge.

We have seen that the Confucian Heaven is constant and sincere, the latter meaning “being true to itself.”  Heaven’s constancy can be eminently applied to Whitehead’s God as well.   If we make God a personal society of occasions, as Hartshorne and Cobb have done, we can then speak more confidently of a full complement of divine virtues, although the traditional view of divine justice is not supported.  God is not the same as a terrestrial or even extraterrestrial person--e.g., the cosmos is God’s body only by analogy--so God would embody and act on the virtues in a uniquely divine way.  However, God’s conscious inclusion of all experience in the consequent nature is the epitome of compassion and unconditional love. As opposed to the classical doctrine of divine impassivity, God can truly empathize with the suffering of the cosmos in the same way that we are aware of the pain in our bodies.  Patience as a divine virtue is much more intelligible in process theology and the process deity would epitomize the medieval ideal of never giving up on a person or a task. As a future desideratum, theologians should consider thinking of God’s virtues as a model for human action rather than God the judge, rewarding and punishing according to a set of divine rules.

            Let us conclude with some summary observations. One of the problems with a rule-based ethics is applying the rules to specific cases.  The imperatives of virtue ethics–be true, be patient, be kind, be compassionate, be courageous--better equip an individual to negotiate the obstacles of the moral life.  The virtue ethics approach is not to follow a set of abstract rules, but to develop a unique ensemble of behaviors, dispositions, and qualities that lead to human excellence.  Virtue ethics may not have exact answers to specific cases--no ethical theory could offer this--but it does prepare the moral agent for adaptation, innovation, and self-discovery. As opposed to a rule based ethics, where the most that we can know is that we always fall short of the norm, virtue ethics is truly a voyage of personal discovery. 

Confucian, Aristotelian, and Whiteheadian ethics always aim at a personal mean that is a creative choice for each individual.  Virtue ethics is emulative--using the sage or God as a model for virtue--whereas rule ethics is based on simple conformity and obedience. The emulative approach engages the imagination and personalizes and thoroughly grounds individual moral action and responsibility.  Such an ethics naturally lends itself to an aesthetics of virtue: the crafting of a good and beautiful soul, a unique individual gem among other gems.


Acknowledgments.  For financial support I would like to thank the research office of the University of Idaho, the Martin Institute of Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution, and the conveners of the National Seminar on Civic Virtue at Santa Clara University.  I am grateful for John B. Cobb, David R. Griffin, J. Thomas Howe, and David L. Hall for their comments and criticisms.



[1] See “The Dancing Ru: A Confucian Aesthetics of Virtue,” Philosophy East and West 51:2 (April, 2001), pp. 280-305.  This article and the current one share some common passages, specifically the first two paragraphs, two paragraphs in the first section, most of the second section, and the final paragraph. Dancing Ru” also shares eight paragraphs with another companion article: “Confucius, Gandhi, and the Aesthetics of Virtue,” Asian Philosophy 11:1 (March, 2001), pp. 41-54.

[2]  Robert C. Neville, The Tao and the Daimon (Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 1982), p. 152.

[3] We will follow David L. Hall and Roger T. Ames’ convention of using an asterisk to distinguish between ren as a human person and ren* as the virtue.  See their book Thinking Through Confucius (Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 1987).

[4] Tu Weiming, Confucian Thought: Selfhood as Creative Self-Transformation (Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 1985), chap. 5.

[5] The D. C. Lau translation of the  Mencius (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1970) will be cited by chapter and section in the text.

[6] Tu Weiming, op. cit., pp. 97, 98.

[7]  Robert C. Neville, op. cit., p. 151.

[8]  John B. Cobb,  A Christian Natural Theology (Philadelphia, PA: Westminster Press, 1964),  p. 49.

[9]  Alfred North Whitehead, Modes of Thought (New York: The Free Press, 1968), p. 21.

[10] See Neville, op. cit., chap. 8 ; and John H. Berthrong, All Under heaven: Transforming Paradigms in Confucian-Christian Dialogue (Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 1994).

[11] See the Zhuangzi, chap. 7.  Interestingly, Zhuangzi’s knackmasters, Butcher Ding and Wheelwright Pian, are not antisocial; they do not leave things as they are; neither the ox nor the wood is left uncarved.  Furthermore, the Duke learns moral lessons from Ding’s consummate skills.

[12] Whitehead, Adventures of Ideas (New York: The Free Press, 1967), p. 206.

[13]  Cobb, The Structure of Christian Existence (Philadelphia, PA: Westminster Press, 1968), p. 133.

[14]  I am indebted to Wing-tsit Chan for his reference to Liu Baonan’s linkage between Analects 4.15 and 6.28.  See Chan’s Source Book in Chinese Philosophy (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1963), p. 27.

[15] Tu Weiming, Centrality and Commonality (Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 1989), p. 27.

[16] Foucault’s conclusion is that the best of Hellenistic moral self-cultivation was “not an exercise in solitude, but a true social practice; . . . the care of the self. . . appears . . . as an intensification of social relations.” See Foucault, The Care of the Self, volume 3 of The History of Sexuality, trans. Robert Hurley (New York: Pantheon Books, 1986), pp. 51, 53.

[17] Foucault, “The Ethic of Care for the Self as a Practice of Freedom,” Philosophy and Social Criticism (Summer, 1987), p. 118.

[18] Lynne Belaief, Toward a Whiteheadian Ethics (Lanham, MD: University of America Press, 1984), p. 93.

[19] F. H. Bradley, Ethical Studies (Oxford: The Claredon Press, 2nd ed., 1952), p. 24; cited in ibid.  After reading the introduction to Jon Steward’s The Hegel Myths and Legends (Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 1996), I am now more vigilant about inaccurate interpretations of Hegel, not only from his critics but also from devoted disciples such as Bradley.

[20] Jiyuan Yu, “Virtue: Confucius and Aristotle,” Philosophy East and West 48:2 (April, 1998),  p. 335.

[21] Paul Tillich, Systematic Theology (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1957), vol. 2, p. 52.

[22]   Cobb, A Christian Natural Theology, p. 110.

[23]  Cobb, Christ in a Pluralistic Age (Philadelphia, PA: The Westminster Press, 1975), p. 213.

[24] Whitehead, Adventures of Ideas, p. 269.

[25] Ibid., pp. 259-262.

[26] Whitehead, Process and Reality (New York: MacMillan, 1929), p. 342.

[27] Ibid., p. 517.

[28] Belaief, Toward a Whiteheadian Ethics, p. 165.

29 Neville, The Tao and the Daimon, p. 152.

30 Ibid.

31 Whitehead, Process and Reality, p. 153.

32 Whitehead, Religion in the Making (New York: Macmillan, 1926), p. 105.

33 Charles Hartshorne, Interview in Unitarian Universalist World (November, 15, 1982), p. 1.

[34] Whitehead, “Mathematics and the Good” in Paul Schlipp, ed., The Philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead, p. 679.

[35] Whitehead, Process and Reality, p. 526.

36  Whitehead, Modes of Thought, p. 61. Leibniz gave the name Combination to what he considered to be the most important philosophical discipline: true logic or metaphysics. This art of discovery, as he also called it, is synthetic not analytic. See Louis Couturat, “On Leibniz’s Metaphysics” in Leibniz, ed. Harry G. Frankfurt (Garden City, NY: Anchor Books, 1972), p. 30.

37 For more on synthetic reason see my Wittgenstein and Phenomenology (Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 1981), Chapter 8.  Parts of this chapter have been reworked in ASynthetic Reason, Aesthetic Order, and the Grammar of Virtue,@ Journal of the Indian Council of Philosophical Research 18: 4 (2001), pp. 13-28. The principal inspiration for this idea came from Merleau-Ponty’s “Hegel’s Existentialism” in  Sense and Non-Sense, trans. H. L. and P. A. Dreyfus (Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 1964).

38 I have used the principle of subsitutability from Hall and Ames, but the examples and formulations are my own (Hall and Ames, pp. 131-137).  Hall has informed me that my concept of aesthetic order is more rational than his because I believe that aesthetic order has structure, a view that I will continue to defend.  It is obvious that Hall and I disagree on some fundamental issues in Whitehead and I will attempt to address these in future work.

39  The translation of Roger T. Ames and Henry Rosemont, Jr., The Analects of Confucius: A Philosophical Translation (New York: Ballantine Books, 1998), will be cited in the text.  I prefer “virtuous person” instead of Ames’ and Rosemont’s “exemplary person” as a translation of junzi.

40 Hall & Ames, pp. 165-66.

41 Whitehead, Modes of Thought, p. 61.

42  Politics 1287a28-32;  Nicomachean Ethics 1137b26-7.

43  Ames and Rosemont, p. 51-52.

44 Belaief, p. 161.

45 See my Spiritual Titanism: Indian, Chinese, and Western Perspectives (Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 2000).

46 Belaief, p. 166.

47 Whitehead, Process and Reality, p. 187.

48 Whitehead, Modes of Thought, p. 13.

49 Whitehead, Science and the Modern World  (New York: The Free Press, 1967), pp. 195-96.

50 John Goheen, “Whitehead’s Theory of Value” in P. A. Schilpp, ed. , The Philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead, p. 444.

51 Whitehead, Process and Reality, pp. 35, 48, 388.

52 Lisa Bellantoni, Moral Progress: A Process Critique of MacIntyre (Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 2000), p. 72.  This excellent  book came to my attention late in the writing of this essay and would have had a more profound effect on it if it had been discovered earlier.

53  Process and Reality, pp. 13-14.

54 Whitehead, The Aims of Education (New York: The Free Press, 1967), p. 77.

55 Belaief, p. 158.

56 Cobb, The Structure of Christian Existence, p. 135.

57 “One great defect in what passes as morality is its anesthetic quality” (John Dewey, Art as Experience [New York: Capricorn Books, 1958], p. 39).

58 Belaief, p. 87.

59 Whitehead, Adventures of Ideas, pp. 263-4.

60 Cobb, A Christian Natural Theology, p. 102-3.

61 Whitehead,  Modes of Thought, p. 14.

62 Whitehead, Essays in Science and Philosophy (New York: Philosophical Library, 1947 ), p. 119.

63 “The moral code is the behaviour-patterns which in the environment for which it is designed will promote the evolution of that environment towards its proper perfection” (Adventures of Ideas, p. 292.)

64 See Robert C. Neville, Boston Confucianism (Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 2000).

65 See my “Non-Violence as a Civic Virtue: Gandhi as a Reformed Liberal,” a paper present at the Society for Asian and Comparative Philosophy,” Monterey, California, May, 2003.  See also Wm. Theodore de Bary’s The Liberal Tradition in China (Hong Kong: Chinese University Press of Hong Kong, 1983) and Asian Values and Human Rights: A Confucian Communitarian Perspective (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1998) in which de Bary supports both a liberal and communitarian Confucianism.

66 See Ian Tattersall, The Last Neanderthal (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, revised ed., 1999), pp. 169-70.