Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In Confucianism, the term "te" refers to what might be called "moral power."  It is what a true leader needs in order to be able to lead and to create a good and just society.

One of Confucius's major ideas is that every person in a society must play his or her proper role.  This is true for leaders as well as for those they rule.  In the case of the leader, he is expected to rule in a way that is just and moral.  The ability to do this is the "te."

A ruler needs to have more than simple temporal power if he is to rule well.  He also needs to have "te."  That is, he needs to have the moral force needed to set a good example for his people and to rule them in the proper way.  If he has this, he will be able to rule in such a way that his soceity will be stable and virtuous.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial