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Xin (trustworthiness)

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-G022-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved May 21, 2024, from

Article Summary

The earliest and basic sense of xin is ‘being true to one’s word’. While one’s words can be xin (that is, worthy of trust), in most cases xin indicates an excellence of character; it is thought to be the central virtue governing the relationship between friends. Since xin is primarily a virtue, its exercise involves practical reasoning and not a mechanical adherence to one’s promises. Xin later was added to an original list of four cardinal Confucian virtues, though its status as a distinct disposition remained controversial. Buddhist thinkers broadened the sense of the term to include religious faith. This innovation in turn influenced certain neo-Confucian thinkers who then talked about the need to xin (have faith in) one’s innate moral faculty.

Citing this article:
Ivanhoe, Philip J.. Xin (trustworthiness), 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-G022-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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