The Comparison between Confucius and Aristotle

Published: 2019-10-24 13:06:56
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The contemporary society views virtue or good ethical conduct as a fundamental aspect which determines the character of a human being. Essentially, it is generalized in the current world that the virtue of a being is determines their moral conducts in all aspects of human interactions; social, political and economic. Historically, the two ancient thinkers, Confucius and Aristotle tried to conceive the aspect of virtue in various ways. However, in all of their interpretations based on their own thinking, they focused on the importance of virtue or good moral conduct. Basically, they interpreted virtue as a major approach in normative ethics. Their thinking initially showed a lot of emphasize on the moral character of a human being. Additionally, they focused on the deontological aspect of a human being especially in a diverse cultural setting (John, 2012). Despite presenting their thoughts about a similar aspect (virtue), there thinking differed. As such, this retrospect comparative essay focuses on extensively comparing the teachings of both Confucius and Aristotle on what constitutes virtue or good ethical and moral conduct with a clear focus on their differences and similarities, use these findings to compare the ancient China and ancient Greek cultures and then use the ideas to suggest ways in which virtues can be used in the modern setting especially in a diverse workplace.

The Similarities and Differences on the Teachings of Confucius and Aristotle on what Constitutes the Virtue

To begin with the similarities both Confucius and Aristotle focused on truth as a virtue (John, 2012). Firstly, they both said that truth as a virtue is very critical because it can either build or ruin the reputation of an individual. They were deeply concerned with the morality aspect of a human being based on their developmental character. In this regard, they insisted that a human being has to remain on the truth side even if they are faced with danger. Additionally, they both insisted that truth as virtue builds trust in a human being (John, 2012).

The second similarity on their teachings about good moral conduct and interpersonal relationships was emphasized on conscientiousness (Xiaosui, 2011). To explain this virtue Confucius used an analogy of a leader and their subjects. He emphasized that the subjects have to all time serve their leader with conscientiousness (Xiaosui, 2011). They have to be straight in all aspects they do around their rulers. Similarly, Aristotle used a work place analogy to explain this virtue. He said that workers have to be conscientious in the line of duty (Xiaosui, 2011). They have to be sensitive and straight in matters of cultural aspects at their organizations. They need to show respect at all times to avoid interfering with the feelings of other people (Xiaosui, 2011).

On the other hand, Confucius and Aristotle differed on their thinking on good conduct. For instance, the Confucius teachings on interpersonal relationships focused on past, present and future with a global context (Xiaosui, 2011). Being an ancient Chinese thinker, Confucius focused on the aspects which affect the society at a global level. He used the values and activities which cannot be understood outside the real cultural context (Xiaosui, 2011). Simply put, Confucius developed virtues such as standing for what one believes in, being respectful and working hard using the real example from the ancient Chinese culture and other cultures across the globe. He was very original and universal. On contrary, Aristotle focused on the Greek culture in his interpretation of good moral conduct (Xiaosui, 2011). He did not use a global view in his explanations of the virtue. He majored on a Greek personality. Firstly, he focused on believing in oneself where he said that good moral conduct calls for respect for all and not breaking the law (Xiaosui, 2011). Secondly he focused on caring for each other, competing fairly and behaving in an acceptable manner (Xiaosui, 2011). His studies on the virtue however focused on the Greek culture using an imaginary being in a present environmental setting. He did not focus on a global aspect.

The Comparison of Ancient China and Ancient Greek Cultures from the Findings

The aforementioned findings on the conception of virtue by the two great thinkers present both similarities and differences in the ancient China and Greek culture. On the similarities, both thinkers present these two cultures as a composition of people who are trustworthy and self-motivated (John, 2010). It is clearly shown that both inhabitants of the ancient China and Greek were people who said the truth, they worked hard and they were sensitive about each other. On contrary, the difference between these two cultures is that some aspects from the ancient Chinese culture could be emulated by people from other countries since Confucius focused on a global study while the ancient Greek culture was just meant for the Greeks because Aristotle only focused on the Greeks (John, 2010).

Ways in which these Virtues can be used in the Modern Setting Especially in a Diverse Workplace

The findings from these two ancient thinkers can be applied in a modern work diverse workplace in various ways. Firstly, both the workers and the staff have to say the truth at all times in order to build trust amongst themselves and their stakeholders. Secondly, the workers and the managers in various organizations have to believe in themselves in order to achieve much from their organization. Thirdly, the staff at a workplace has to be sensitive about other peoples cultures and show care for each other at all times. Lastly, the workers have to practice conscientiousness at all times (John, 2010). They have to strive to satisfy their leaders and their clients.


Conclusively, it is clearly shown that both Confucius and Aristotle interpreted virtue in different ways. However, despite having some differences in their thinking their general conclusion was the same. They both say that virtue determine the moral character of a person. They used both ancient Greek and China cultures to come up with various virtues which can still be applied in the modern society especially at a diverse workplace.


John, H. (2012). Conflicts of duty and the virtues of Aristotle in public relations ethics: Continuing the conversation commenced by Monica Walle. Public Relations Quarterly Journal, 45(3), 18-21

John, Z. D. (2010). Nicomachean EthicsBy Aristotle. Translated by W. D. Ross. 350 B.C

Xiaosui, X. (2011). Ancient Greek and Chinese Patterns of Definition: A Comparative Study. Hong Kong Baptist University.Intercultural Communication Studies XVII


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