The Ninth Lecture of “Legal History Lecture Hall“ of China Institute of Legal History:
Professor Yang Hegao: Confucian values of work for the greater good at the expense of self-interest

The ninth lecture in the series of academic lectures of "Legal History Lecture Hall" sponsored by China Institute of Legal History was held in a combined online and offline form on the afternoon of September 19th, 2023. The lecture, "Confucian values of working for the greater good at the expense of self-interest", was given by Mr. Yang Hegao, a 97-year-old professor at China University of Political Science and Law, and presided over by Professor Li Xuemei, director of the Institute for Chinese Ancient Legal Documents of China University of Political Science and Law. Professor Fan Zhongxin from Law School of Huaqiao University and Professor Jiang Xiaomin from the Law School of China University of Political Science and Law served as guest speakers. More than 230 experts, scholars, teachers and students from universities, research institutions and practical departments all over the country attended the lecture. 

In the lecture, Professor Yang Hegao introduced Confucius' basic proposition of attaching importance to morality and the development of Confucianism in later generations, and summed up the positive role of Confucian theory of attaching importance to morality as the following four points: it has become a theoretical weapon for people to resist fatuous and self-indulgent rulers and tyranny in history; it attaches importance to the role of moral education, which can prevent crimes and encourage people to be good day by day; it puts the national interests first; and it advocates respecting the old and caring for the young. However, the Confucian theory of emphasizing morality also has limitations: first, it overemphasizes ethics and morality, which inhibits people's independent consciousness and creative spirit; and secondly, under the principle that ethics is above all else, the role of law in social adjustment has been made light of. Mr. Yang emphasized that a socialist society should be governed by both virtue and law, neither of which should be neglected. Therefore, we must abandon the traditional ideas that think ethics is above all else and make light of the law.