The Vulnerability of Integrity in Early Confucian Thought

ISBN : 9780190679118

Michael Ing
374 Pages
156 x 235 mm
Pub date
Sep 2017
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The Vulnerability of Integrity in Early Confucian Thought is about the necessity, and even value, of vulnerability in human experience. In this book, Michael Ing brings early Chinese texts into dialogue with questions about the ways in which meaningful things are vulnerable to powers beyond our control; and more specifically, how relationships with meaningful others might compel tragic actions. Vulnerability is often understood as an undesirable state; and as such, invulnerability is preferred over vulnerability. While recognizing the need for adopting strategies of reducing vulnerability in various situations, The Vulnerability of Integrity demonstrates that vulnerability is far more enduring in human experience, and that it enables values such as morality, trust, and maturity. Vulnerability also highlights the need for care (care for oneself and for others). The possibility of tragic loss stresses the difficulty of offering and receiving care; and thereby fosters compassion for others as we strive to care for each other. This book is structured to explore the plurality of Confucian thought as it relates to the vulnerability of integrity. The first two chapters describe traditional and contemporary views that argue for the invulnerability of integrity in early Confucian thought. The remaining five chapters investigate alternative views. In particular these later chapters give attention to neglected voices in the tradition, which argue that our concern for others can, and even should, lead to us compromise our integrity. In these cases we are compelled to do something transgressive for the sake of others; and in these situations our integrity is jeopardized in the transgressive act.


1. The Invulnerability of Integrity: Early Texts and Commentators
2. The Invulnerability of Integrity: Contemporary Scholarship
3. The Sorrow of Regret
4. Regret, Resentment, and Transgression
5. Irresolvable Value Conflicts in a Conflictual World
6. The Conflictual World of the Sages
7. The Vulnerability of Integrity
Conclusion: The Value of Vulnerability

About the author: 

Michael D.K. Ing is an Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Indiana University, Bloomington.

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