Early Confucian Concept Of Friendship

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Friendship is a radically different relationship amongst the five primary cardinal relationship mentioned in the WuLun (五伦). In this essay, we will be exploring the concept of friendship in the view of the Early Confucians thinkers and whether it is necessary for friendship to be grounded in commitment to the good. This is an important issue as Confucius himself always advocates cultivating of virtues. Lastly, this essay will also be explaining why Early Confucians thinkers believe it is necessary for friendship to be grounded in commitment to the good, and how it is still applicable in today’s context.
Firstly, how does one make friends? According to Tseng Tzu, “A gentlemen makes friends through being cultivated, but looks to friends for support in benevolence.” (Analects 12:24) Confucius himself also advocates others to “Make it your guiding principle to do your best for others and to be trustworthy in what you say.” (Analects 9:25) From these two quotes, the virtue that one have to cultivate to be a friend is trustworthiness (xin 信). One makes friend only when he himself is first cultivated, such that others can see the virtues in him which shows that he can be a friend. Not only does friendship help one to be cultivated, it helps the other party to be cultivated as well. Mencius also agrees that friendship is built on trust, where he mentioned it in his five cardinal primary relationship: “between father and son, there should be affection; between sovereign and
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