Thinking Through an Embodied Confucian Aesthetics of Persons

  • Eric Mullis
Part of the Sophia Studies in Cross-cultural Philosophy of Traditions and Cultures book series (SCPT, volume 16)


This chapter discusses the relationship between Confucian ethics and a Confucian aesthetics of persons. It considers the classical Confucian emphasis on the consistency of internal experience and external aesthetic appearance and examines what bearing this has in contemporary contexts. External modes of expression are particularly important to Confucians, Mullis argues, because they take moral education to involve attuning one’s psychological states to the larger context, something one learns to do through imbibing an understanding of what it is appropriate to feel and how it is appropriate to express feeling in particular circumstances. The degree to which one has achieved this attunement is manifest in one’s manner of performing one’s roles and socially specified actions appropriate to one’s circumstances. Personal somatic style is a succinct and effective mode of communicating one’s ethical commitments and participation in a larger society. With proper cultivation, one’s bodily expression of moral dispositions can becomes an art, and one’s mastery becomes more consummate over time. The Confucian vision sees the aesthetics of personal bodily behavior and style as intertwined with ethical attitudes, and Mullis contends that this Confucian outlook retains relevance, even in our socially complicated postmodern world.


Confucian philosophy Confucian ethics Somaesthetics Aesthetics of persons 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Queen’s University of CharlotteCharlotteUSA

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