What are the Five Virtues in Confucianism?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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First, please note that there are many translations for the five virtues so these may be a little different from what your book says.  The five virtues are:

  • Propriety or courtesy.  This is sort of like the golden rule in Western thinking.  This means that it is important to treat others in proper ways.
  • Righteousness or justice.  This is the virtue of knowing how to act at all times.  In other words, we should always act in ways that are appropriate to the situation.
  • Propriety.  This involves respecting the old ways that have been passed down.  It involves taking part in the correct rituals, for example.
  • Wisdom.  This is the knowledge of what is right and wrong, good and bad.
  • Faithfullness or loyalty.  This can also be called trustworthiness.  It is the virtue of being true to your word and always doing what you say you will.