Qian Ran (Bochum)

Confucianism in the light of “roles”, “rituals” and “autonomy”

short biography

Qian Ran studied Bachelor in Philosophy from 1997 to 2000 at the Nankai University (Tianjin, China), from 2001 to 2008 she studied Magister in Philosophy at Heidelberg University. From 2014 to 2017 she was Research Assistant at the Institute of Philosophy at the Ruhr-University Bochum. In 2021 Qian completed her doctoral thesis “The Concept of Human Dignity in Neo-Confucianism”. Currently she is teaching Philosophy at the Ruhr-University Bochum and is translating Theodor W. Adorno’s lecture on “Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason” from German to Chinese.


In his paper “Nur ein Rollenträger oder auch ein Mensch/Just a role-bearer or a human being as well” Heiner Roetz especially critizes Henry J. Rosemont and Roger Ames for their interpretation of Confucianism as role ethics. In contrast to them he tries to expose the Confucian teaching as something that is anchoring to an abstract concept of the human being. Starting from this discussion I would like to examine Confucianism in the light of the three notions “roles”, “rituals” and “autonomy”. Following Roetz I advocate the view that the autonomous person does represent the key idea of the Confucianism. In this context I will point out the notions of “exhaustively investigating the Principle” (qiongli) of Zhu Xi and “reaching the knowledge” (zhizhi) of Wang Yangming. Subsequently, unlike Roetz, I will ask to what extent the conceptions of “roles” and “rituals” could be relevant for autonomy in the context of Confucian ethics.

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