Equilibrium in Classical Confucian “Economy”


In a modern economy, “equilibrium” means that supply and demand is equal. It is at this point that the allocation of goods and services is at its most efficient, this being because the amount of goods and the amount of goods in demand are equally balanced. The market equilibrium therefore is determined by supply and demand. This paper looks at the concept of “equilibrium” in some of the early Confucian texts and its possible implications in economic activities. In the Confucian context equilibrium, or what can be termed as the ultimate equilibrium, is to be understood in a broader sense where balances and harmony at different levels (e.g. individual and society) need to be sought in order to achieve a model of sustainable development. The ultimate equilibrium may provide an alternative approach to social welfare and economic prosperity creating universal harmony and better living for humans. In Confucian ideology, governing for the welfare of the people is not merely a question of increasing personal income and wealth; it requires implementation on a priority basis, taking into consideration the formation of an orderly society based on the enforcement of moral and ethical standards with the existence of a benevolent government which appropriates things according to the principles of harmony and order to achieve what can be termed as the “great equilibrium”—equilibrium that is not simply defined by balanced economic forces as in modern economic theory; but rather is used to suggest an ideal state of harmony in self fulfilment and socio-political order through incentives and by appropriate means.

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Chan, S. (2012). Equilibrium in Classical Confucian “Economy”. Open Journal of Philosophy, 2, 100-106. doi: 10.4236/ojpp.2012.22015.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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