The Core Concept of Confucianism: Ren
The core value of Confucianism, the value that Confucius sought most to promote, is benevolence (ren). According to the Analects, the topics most discussed by Confucius and his students centered around concepts such as benevolence and love, rites and music, trust and righteousness, filial piety, loyalty and tolerance, respect and reverence. But the topic that came up most often was benevolence, which appears 109 times in the Analects.
What exactly is benevolence? Confucius’ students asked him most frequently about the nature of benevolence and how to become a man of benevolence.
It is difficult to accurately define the concept of benevolence. Nevertheless, Zengzi had used the concept of “loyalty and tolerance” to interpret the core nature of benevolence; this provides a simple way to understand the central meaning of Confucianism.
Review by Su-Fen Lin and Timothy Baker Jr.