Document Type

Senior Paper/Project


In the context of Confucian ethics, there are few concepts as indefinable yet centrally important to the system of thought as a whole as the ideal of the sage. The sage is a key topic of discussion in The Analects of Confucius, and has been the subject of much reflection, revision, and discussion by neo-Confucian scholars throughout history. For centuries, however, one segment of the population was largely absent from the annals of Confucian scholarship, namely, women. The goal of this essay is to argue that, although women are rarely addressed in the canon of Confucian writings, women are not in essence excluded from pursuing Confucian sagehood, or the moral designation of Junzi. To support my argument, I will first define the Confucian sage (and differences, if any, between the sage and the Junzi), then examine the actions and traits required for becoming a sage in contrast and comparison with women’s roles in the 5th century BCE, and finally, end with a brief acknowledgement of Im Yunjidang, a female scholar in the 18th century who exemplified and deliberately aligned herself with the picture of the Confucian sage.


History, Philosophy and Political Science

Date Accepted/Awarded



Library Research Prize - First Place Winner


PHI499 Philosophy Senior Seminar

First Advisor/Reader

Paul Reasoner

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Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 International License.