Virtue LO22554

Max Schupbach (
Thu, 2 Sep 1999 01:43:45 -0700

Replying to LO22521 --

Dear At,

this is fun and deep stuff, that you play around with. I liked that you
mention taoism and translation problems with the word desire, since in my
mind we must not forget that Confucius' definition of virtue has to be
seen as part of a dialogue with the slightly older Lao-Tzu and the
Taoists, whose nature concept of "the way" was very different from the
more people and social order oriented Confucians. The system thinkers
certainly can appreciate that all of these ideas have to be looked upon in
terms of the system that they originated in, and the one that is
interpreting them. Today, the difference between a Confucian view and
Taoist view still play out when working practically within an
organisation. A more taoistic approach would be to try to recognize the
"natural" or "dreamlike" flow of an organisation, the fate or tao, so to
speak, and bring it to the awareness of its participants, assuming that
this flow is the right fate for the people involved in it. (Lao-Tzu:
"people are straw dogs") A more confucian approach would be to work on
yourself morally to serve an organisation which could be stagnant in its
expression. What do you think? On a different topic: the Asian concept of
desire also must be seen within its cultural context. Unlike in the west,
where desires are seen from a christian background, in Asia they go beyond
that. In my personal view, the best modern "translation" of what we used
to call desires today would be "rights", those things that you deserve, or
also entitlement. In the West we insist on "rights", human rights, animal
rights, but also rights to choose, to consume, etc. etc. where as the
confucian thought is focused on duty or debt or contribution towards the
society that you participate in. As you probably know, in the one recorded
meeting between Lao-Tzu and Confucius, the first one scolded the latter
for his focus on erasing "desires". Again, this is crucial when working in
a multi cultural environment, and these connections are the reason, why
the human rights campaign of the West is altogether not only well received
in Asia, who partially is appalled by the western focus on what a society
can do for you, but would prefer to ask what you can do for your society.
Working within Japanese corporations, I found these concepts to form
helpful frameworks to understand better where people are coming from. look
forward to hear other thoughts and ideas on this matter, especially from
members from Asia.


Dr.Max Schupbach | <>
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Phone (503)223 6548 Fax (801)365-9064 |


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