In quest of harmony : Plato and Confucius on poetry

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review


Plato (427?-347? B.C.) and Confucius (ca. 551-479 B.C.) lived only about half a century apart, but in two culturally unrelated worlds. The influence of these two thinkers on humankind can be measured only on the grandest scale of time and space. For about two and a half millennia, the thoughts of Plato and Confucius have shaped all aspects of life in those two largest cultural spheres that are known, respectively, as the West and the East. To compare Platonic and Confucian thought is to embark on an expedition back to the fountainheads of Western and Eastern cultures. By comparing the ideas of Plato and Confucius, we can observe similarities and differences between these cultures at their infancy and better understand why the two great traditions would develop as they did. For this reason, Plato-Confucius comparisons abound in the works of comparative philosophy. While these comparisons cover a broad intellectual spectrum, they seldom explore the topic of the aesthetics of poetry. To bring due attention to this topic, I would like to consider the two thinkers' views of poetry in relation to their broader educational, ethical, and philosophical concerns
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)317-345
Number of pages29
JournalPhilosophy East and West
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 1999
Externally publishedYes


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