Sublating Reverence to Parents: A Kierkegaardian Interpretation of the Sage-King Shun’s Piety

In: Journal of Chinese Philosophy
Lauren F. Pfister Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong, China

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In the Mengzi there is a hypothetical situation relating how the ancient sage-king Shun would respond if his father had committed murder. This has recently become a source of debate among Chinese philosophers. Here we will apply arguments made by Johannes de silentio (Kierkegaard’s pseudonym) about the “teleological suspension of the ethical” related to the action of the biblical Abraham, and link them up to alternative interpretations of the actions of Shun. This challenges the current and traditional interpretations of his actions, suggesting how this new approach can overcome ethical quandaries related to the Mengzian account of Shun’s behavior.

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