Confucianism, Commerce, Capitalism

In: Culture and Dialogue
Henrique Schneider Professor of economics, Nordakademie, University of Applied Sciences Elmshorn and Hamburg Germany

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This paper discusses commerce in Early Confucianism. It argues that the virtuous Confucian agent engages with the world in different ways, including in commerce – it is another way of acting with virtue. This conception is compared with two roughly contemporary approaches in economics, the thought of Wilhelm Röpke and the Humanomics project by Vernon Smith. In both, virtue is constitutive to commerce. However, they differ substantially in the exact relationship between virtue and commerce. While in Early Confucianism commerce is a way for the agent to unfold and cultivate virtues, in Röpke, virtues are a corrective to the utilitarianism in commerce. In Humanomics, agents engaging in commercial relations find shared virtues.

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