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The Confucian tradition embodies one of the most enduring and influential moral traditions in world history. Yet for Western readers Confucius remains little known, and perhaps even less approachable than the major thinkers of the Western philosophical tradition. While it is difficult to overstate his influence, Confucius himself left little if any written account of his moral outlook. What we know of the man and the origins of the Confucian tradition come from brief accounts of his life and teachings compiled primarily in the present text, the Analects. As such, Confucian ethics is best thought of as a tradition more than an explicit ethical theory.

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