De 德 in the Zuozhuan《左傳》

Yuri Pines*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


This article surveys the usages of the term de 德 in the Zuozhuan《左傳》. It demonstrates the term's hermeneutical richness: de could refer to charismatic power, to political potency, to proper decorum, to mildness and kindness in domestic or interstate affairs, to individual morality, and so forth. Behind this richness, though, we may discern a clear predominance of political usages of de and paucity of references to de as personal moral virtue. Notably, Zuozhuan never refers to de in the context of moral self-cultivation. The article discusses the reasons for this peculiarity.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)130-142
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Chinese Philosophy
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Wiley-Blackwell Publishing. All rights reserved.


  • Charisma
  • De
  • Morality
  • Political thought
  • Virtue
  • Zuozhuan


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