Why You Ought Not to Turn the Other Cheek: Confucius on How to Deal With Wrongdoers 為什麼不該轉過你的左臉:孔子論如何對待作惡者

Yong Huang

On the issue of how to deal with those who have wronged us, Confucius holds a view very different from Jesus, although they are both against “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” While Jesus asks us to turn the left cheeks when someone strikes us on the right, Confucius advises us to repay an injury with uprightness. It is commonly believed that the position Confucius recommends here lies between the position Jesus recommends and the position they are both against: while the former is morally too demanding and the latter is morally too permissive, Confucius’s position is morally realistic. This essay argues against such a common conception and claims that the position Confucius advocates actually sets a moral standard that is even higher than Jesus’ position, since what Confucius asks us to do is to do all that we can to help the wrongdoer cease to be a wrongdoer and become a moral person.