What were the Confucian cultural arts or "wen?"

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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One of the major Confucian doctrines is that of "wen."  The term "wen" refers to the arts and specifically to those arts and those attitudes that will help people be virtuous and live in peace.

To Confucius, there were a few different arts that came under the category of "wen."  These arts included poetry, music, and art.  Confucius believed that everyone who wanted to be a gentleman and to play an important role in society needed to be versed in these arts.  Such a person would need this sort of education because the arts were important for the moral development of the person as a whole.

Confucius taught, then, that virtuous people needed to learn the arts, or "wen."  If they did not, they could not possibly have the sort of state of mind and the sort of values needed for functioning in a virtuous society.

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