For China, one may go so far as to say that family reverence was a necessary condition for developing any of the other human qualities of excellence. On the basis of the present translation of the ""Xiaojing"" (Classic of Family Reverence) and supplemental passages found in other early philosophical writings, Professors Rosemont and Ames articulate a specifically Confucian conception of 'role ethics' that, in its emphasis on a relational conception of the person, is markedly different from most early and contemporary dominant Western moral theories. This Confucian role ethics takes as its inspiration the perceived necessity of family feeling as the entry point in the development of moral competence and as a guide to the religious life as well. In the lengthy introduction, the two senior scholars offer their perspective on the historical, philosophical, and religious dimensions of the ""Xiaojing"". Together with this introduction, a lexicon of key terms presents a context for the ""Xiaojing"" and provides guidelines for interpreting the text historically in China as well as suggesting its contemporary significance for all societies. The inclusion of the Chinese text adds yet another dimension to this important study.
Henry Rosemont, Jr., is George B. and Wilma Reeves Distinguished Professor Emeritus at St. Mary's College of Maryland and Visiting Scholar in Religious Studies at Brown University. Roger T. Ames is professor of philosophy at the University of Hawai'i and editor of Philosophy East and West.