Chinese name
Traditional Chinese
Simplified Chinese
Vietnamese name
Chữ Hán
Korean name
Japanese name

In Chinese philosophy, yi (simplified Chinese: ; traditional Chinese: ; pinyin: ) refers to righteousness, justice, morality, and meaning.


In Confucianism, yi involves a moral disposition to do good, and also the intuition and sensibility to do so competently.[1][2] Yi represents moral acumen which goes beyond simple rule following, involving a balanced understanding of a situation, and the "creative insight" and decision-generating ability necessary to apply virtues properly and appropriately in a situation with no loss of sight of the total good.[2]

Yi resonates with Confucian philosophy's orientation towards the cultivation of benevolence (ren) and ritual propriety (li).

In application, yi is a "complex principle" which includes:[2]

  1. skill in crafting actions which have moral fitness according to a given concrete situation
  2. the wise recognition of such fitness
  3. the intrinsic satisfaction that comes from that recognition


The Zhuangzi discusses the relationship between yi (righteousness) and de (virtue).[3]

See also


  1. ^ Archie (2000).
  2. ^ a b c Cheng (1972), p. 271.
  3. ^ Watson (1968), pp. 105–6.


  • Archie, Lee C. (30 October 2000). "The Main Concepts of Confucianism". philosophy.lander.edu. Lander University. Retrieved 2012-08-13.
  • Cheng, Chung-ying (July 1972), "On yi as a universal principle of specific application in Confucian morality", Philosophy East and West, 22 (3): 269–280, doi:10.2307/1397676, JSTOR 1397676
  • Watson, Burton (1968). The complete works of Chuang Tzu. New York: Columbia University Press. ISBN 9780231031479.