• Jack Barbalet


Self-interest is depreciated in Confucian ethics, according to Weber’s assessment. The chapter shows, however, that traditional Chinese family relations operate through their members’ self-interested actions. The chapter examines Confucian filial piety and the tensions in family life between intergenerational and conjugal relations, each producing distinctive patterns of interests. The chapter shows that self-interest is widely acknowledged in Chinese thought traditions. The chapter develops a novel account of self-interest in which selection of different temporal phases of self (past, present, or future) account for distinctive formations of self-interest. Confucian antipathy to ‘selfishness’ relates to admonishment of satisfaction of present self-interests against those of past selves. In Daoist self-cultivation practices, on the other hand, the interests of future selves are encouraged.


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© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jack Barbalet
    • 1
  1. 1.Australian Catholic UniversityMelbourneAustralia

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