Plato: Ok then maybe it does not matter if people are inherently good or
bad, but how does all this matter into the things in life that matter?
Confucius: But this does matter because the way people act towards each
other- the way people govern or treat others with selfishness is what
matters in this world.
Plato: But how can virtue then be taught if people are selfish, or
Confucius: What do you mean? I thought we agreed that people can become
virtuous and that people can be in touch with heaven.
Plato: So are you saying people are good?
Confucius: No, I did not say that. What are you saying?
Plato: That virtue is not something we can find, and it is not something
that is innate. It is something that is given (Cahn 19).
Confucius: Given by who?
Plato: Given by what you call the heavens, given by God to the virtuous.
Virtue is therefore not innate or not learned but something that the truly
Confucius: I think this is wear we must disagree.
Plato: Yes it appears so as you believe that anybody has the capacity to
be a Sage, or to have great wisdom and virtue.
Confucius: Yes and you believe only the few.
Plato: Yes but we both believe that virtue exists.
Confucius: Yes there is something special in people.
Plato: And there is a greater good.
Confucius: But back to your original question of what this means.
Plato: Does it mean that people live a life of morality or immorality?
Confucius: It means that people who live a life for profit are living a
life of immorality. This notion of salary is that people who seek to
acquire goods for personal gain are immoral (Stevenson & Haberman 13).
Seeking profit is immoral. Therefore, people should base their moral
compass not on seeking profit but instead on doing what is good and morally
Plato: Of course I agree with you that seeking profit is not the virtuous
course of action, but then it must be defined what in fact the moral action
Confucius: The answer is simple; it requires a respect for all others.
Plato: And all people are capable of this respect?
Confucius: Yes all people are capable to have the utmost respect for human
beings. There is no other alternative or course of moral action. To put
profit, power, selfishness, or any other motive of this type above the
condition of another human is immoral.
Plato: So if one seeks morality they must seek a virtue that treats other
people better? Where can one find such virtue if a person does not have
such strong moral fiber.
Confucius: It is transmitted through heaven. If a stable burns, it is not
important whether the stable burned or if the valuable horses were spared-
it is the human life that hopefully was spared through the fire. The human
is most important.
Plato: So what if someone cares more for the horses than the other humans?
Is this person guilty of wrong doing?
Plato: But how can a person make a wrong moral mistake?
Confucius: I have just shown how a person can have a moral lapse- through
caring for profit.
Plato: Yes, but there exists an inner harmony in people that you have not
realized. You refused to admit whether man is good or bad.
Confucius: Yes go on then is man good or bad?
Plato: Man does not willingly do something that he or she believes to be
wrong (Stevenson & Haberman 76).
Confucius: How can man not? There are surely countless times when a man
behaves selfishness, for his own motives, for profit which I have
demonstrated to be immoral actions. This means that man is capable of
Plato: There is a critical factor you are overlooking and this will take
some explaining. It is that there are not two parts to the soul, but
three. There is the appetite and there is reason; these are two of the
parts of the human being that try to reason between what someone wants and
want reason tells someone he or she should do (Stevenson & Haberman 77).
Confucius: Well, a truly moral action would not need to reason because the
divinely inspired action is perfect. It is what does not benefit from
profit; it is what helps people and what respects people.
Plato: Let me continue. You have argued against the two part soul, but I
have not explained the third part and the third part is the spirit.
Confucius: How can there be a spirit that determines human action? There
is the mind and the mind makes its decisions based upon what is beneficial
to the human condition and what is harmful for the human condition.
Plato: Spirit is something distinct from reason (Stevenson & Haberman 77).
Spirit is the disgust or desire that is innate in all people.
Confucius: How does this spirit differ from reason?
Plato: It is simple. Let us look at your horse example. The spirit will
surely wonder whether the horses survived the fire, or be concerned of the
lost profit from losing a structure to a fire. The spirit is thus
differentiated from reason. Reason would look at the situation from
perhaps your perspective. But there is an inherent inflammation in the
heart and in the soul and this spirit is a passion that differs from
reason. Yet it is not appetite either. Spirit may coincide with reason,
but it is not the same (Stevenson & Haberman 77).
Confucius: So does that mean that people are all alone then with their
three parts to their sole?
Plato: Most certainly not! People are social beings.
Confucius: So, you do agree with me then, that people's morality is based
upon their relationships with others.
Plato: Well, I mean that people need other people. People need other
people for survival, for companionship, for social interaction (Stevenson &
Confucius: So then treating other people to the utmost is of greatest
importance? As I said, the greatest moral course of action is outside of
one's selfish interests.
Plato: But while you maintain that people are the same, they are in fact
Confucius: How can they be different? There is one moral action and that
is compassion and love for others which one can acquire through knowledge
Plato: But people are different. If people are composed of three
different elements, than within each person the elements create a person
that is unique. People should have a harmonious level with reason as the
strongest element. But this is not always the case (Stevenson & Haberman
Confucius: The most important element is not reason, but benevolence
(Stevenson & Haberman 15). How can reason be more important than the
direct action that creates the highest level or morality attainable?
Plato: It seems that you see people as equals capable of understanding
morality and virtue if they allow themselves to be reached in such a way as
to become benevolent.
Confucius: That is correct maybe you now coming to understand the very
nature of morality and the ultimate goal of human interaction.
Plato: I have to disagree, because, I do not believe that each person has
equal levels of the three elements.
Confucius: If people then do not have adequate levels of morality or
Plato: It is not an if; some people are blessed with more reason than
others. That is how some people can become more virtuous than others. And
it is these with a greater sense of reason that are destined to have a
leading role in society (Stevenson & Haberman 79). Even as you accept
destiny, you do not account for creating it. This model allows for
morality, destiny, and explains the differences between people. This means
people have their own roles in society based upon their destiny, or the
interaction of the three elements in their souls.
Confucius: But people's lives and social interaction are defined by the
treatment of others with benevolence.
Plato: At least we agree on the role of social interaction.
Confucius: Yes, but it seems that to you social interaction is defined
outside a person's own moral values.
Plato: No, I believe that social interaction or the role of the individual
in society should be based on their level of reason. This means there
should be a system in society- a society that trumps democracy, autocracy,
and all other forms. It is a perfect society and the problems I have seen
within society and those that have existed in society throughout history
can be fixed.
Confucius: And how do you plan on fixing that?
Plato: By creating a society of complete justice and…