, Volume 18, Issue 1, pp 1–22 | Cite as

Recognition and Trust: Hegel and Confucius on the Normative Basis of Ethical Life

  • Alexei ProcyshynEmail author
  • Mario Wenning


This essay offers a comparative analysis of the notion of trust in Hegel and Confucius. It shows that Hegel’s two senses of trust (Zutrauen and Vertrauen) depend upon his theory of recognition and recognitive struggle. The competitive thrust of Hegel’s account of trust, it argues, introduces a series of problems that cannot be adequately resolved within his theory, since it presupposes the kinds of trusting relations—self-, intersubjective- and world-trust—that it purports to explain. This essay then turns to the Confucian notions of xin 心 and li 理 to address the problems in the Hegelian account. It concludes by outlining the Confucian account’s salience for critical social theory.


Confucius Critical theory Hegel Recognition Trust Xin 心 


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Earlier versions of this essay have been presented at conferences at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Academia Sinica in Taipei, and Sun Yat-Sen University-Zhuhai. We would like to thank the respondents at these events as well as the two anonymous referees for their generous feedback. Their comments and criticisms prompted revisions that we believe have helped us produce a better piece of work. We hope we have responded adequately to their concerns.


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Philosophy (Zhuhai)Sun Yat-Sen UniversityZhuhaiChina
  2. 2.Philosophy and Religious Studies Program, FAH-E21-4109University of Macau, Avenida da UniversidadeTaipaChina

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