One reason why Confucius is preeminent among Chinese philosophers is his teaching about ren. Interpreters have said many different things about ren, yet two basic assumptions are pervasive: that ren is a virtue and that ren is benevolence. I argue that it is more respectful to the text of the Analects to discard both assumptions. Instead of virtue, ren is a priority in one's motives. Instead of benevolence, ren is humane courtesy.
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