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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The development of ren (仁) in early Chinese philosophy Curtis, Robin Elliott

Abstract

This thesis describes the development of the Chinese virtue ren 仁 from its earliest recorded occurrences around 1000 BCE to its use in the Song dynasty around 1200 CE, asking the questions: 1) How did the meanings of ren change over time; and 2) How does quantitative textual analysis affect our understanding of ren? I argue that the earliest recorded meaning of ren was most likely “manliness” in the Western Zhou dynasty, that it later came to mean “Goodness,” followed by “benevolence” during the Warring States period, and that by the end of the Song dynasty, it meant transcendental “humanity.” Quantitative textual analysis affects our understanding of ren by supporting and qualifying existing theories, and also by illuminating new areas of research.

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