KEY CONCEPTS

TERMBASES

Exalt the Worthy

In ancient China, many schools of thought advocated “exalting the worthy” or similar ideas. They asked those in power to employ worthy and able men and make effective use of them in governance by assigning them positions and responsibilities corresponding to their virtues. Virtue and talent were to be the first and foremost criterion in selecting officials. To the Confucians, empowering the virtuous and able was a useful complement to loving and caring for kinsmen. To the Mohists, empowering the virtuous and able was an important prerequisite for governance that “conforms upwardly.”

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Thus, exalting the worthy and employing the capable, ranking the noble and the lowly, differentiating those close and distant, assigning precedence to old and young: this is the principle followed by former kings.

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Therefore, in antiquity the sage kings greatly honored the principle of exalting the worthy. They employed the virtuous and capable, forming no cliques with their fathers and brothers, showing no partiality to the rich and noble, nor favoring those with handsome features.

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