In this study, Olberding proposes a new theoretical model for
reading the Analects. Her thesis is that the moral sensibility of
the text derives from an effort to conceptually capture and
articulate the features seen in exemplars, exemplars that are
identified and admired pre-theoretically and thus prior to any
conceptual criteria for virtue. Put simply, Olberding proposes an
"origins myth" in which Confucius, already and prior to his
philosophizing knows whom he judges to be virtuous. The work we see
him and the Analects' authors pursuing is their effort to explain
in an organized, generalized, and abstract way why
pre-theoretically identified exemplars are virtuous. Moral
reasoning here begins with people and with inchoate experiences of
admiration for them. The conceptual work of the text reflects the
attempt to analyze such people and parse such experiences in order
to distill abstract qualities that account for virtue and can guide
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