Yi (philosophy)

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Yi, (simplified Chinese: ; traditional Chinese: ; pinyin: ; Jyutping: Ji6; Zhuyin Fuhao: ㄧˋ), literally "justice, moral, righteousness; meaning," is an important concept in Confucianism. It involves a moral disposition to do good, and also the intuition and sensibility to do so competently.[1][2]

Yi resonates with Confucian philosophy's orientation towards the cultivation of benevolence (ren) and good form (li).

Yi represents moral acumen which goes beyond simple rule following, and involves a balanced understanding of a situation, and the "creative insights" necessary to apply virtues "with no loss of sight of the total good. Yi represents this ideal of totality as well as a decision-generating ability to apply a virtue properly and appropriately in a situation."[3]

In application, yi is a "complex principle" which includes:

  1. skill in crafting actions which have moral fitness according to a given concrete situation
  2. the wise recognition of such fitness
  3. the intrinsic satisfaction that comes from that recognition.[4]

See also[edit]


  • Cheng, Chung-ying (July 1972), "On yi as a universal principle of specific application in Confucian morality", Philosophy East and West, 22 (3): 269–280, doi:10.2307/1397676, JSTOR 1397676


  1. ^ "The Main Concepts of Confucianism". Philosophy.lander.edu. Retrieved 2012-08-13.
  2. ^ (Cheng)
  3. ^ (Cheng p. 271)
  4. ^ (Cheng)