The Doctrine of the Mean: Confucian School of Thought

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Zhang Guangxing


The Doctrine of the Mean, as an important cultural heritage, has not only influenced the Chinese people but also has lasting effects on many nations of Asia. Aristotle* the well-known philosopher of ancient Greece advocated it, and divided human's intense emotion and behavior into three conditions: excessive, inadequate and moderate. He maintained that everyone in human society ought to observe the code of the Golden Mean. As he saw it, evil conduct was characterized by being excessive or inadequate. Virtue on the other hand incorporated the moderate behavior of the Golden Mean. It has also become an important ethical code and aesthetic principle in many countries of Asia such as Japan, India, South and North Korea. This philosophy, however, has its long history and this theory has been developed for perfection from time to time in China that displays many unique features, which are not found in other countries of the world. This paper is designed to give some brief introduction of the Confucian idea of Mean with three perspectives such as its development, major contents and its significance in real life.

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