The classical Confucian understanding of li has led to a revitalization of interest in the school, especially among twentieth-century Western intellectuals.
In all cases, the term li refers to a range of human activities (from ancestor worship to dinner-table etiquette) and the attitudes of propriety that stimulate and reinforce them.
Given the overarching concern with social order and ethical conduct prevalent in classical Chinese religion and philosophy, it is easy to see how this notion became entirely central to the early Confucians.
Li as an idea was not terribly popular among the other philosophical schools in classical China.
Just as a poet has limitless options, even when working within a restricted creative domain (such as the sonnet form), so to does the doctrine of li discipline conduct without totally subverting human agency.
By the Neo-Confucian period, scholarly interest in the pragmatic (and fairly practical) doctrines of li had waned considerably.
The unifying thread among these varied notions is that they are all related in practice—li, stated simply, refers to the standards of behavior that both constrain and guide human action.
Li (? pinyin: L?) is a classical Chinese term that is most extensively utilized in Confucian and post-Confucian Chinese philosophy.
In blatant contrast to Mencius, Xunzi believed that human nature was inherently evil—a perspective that allowed him to explain the chaos and uncertainty that characterized his age.
To begin, it is helpful to recall, as Angus Graham does, that Confucius had a particularly immediate relationship with li, in that he was professionally employed as an itinerant teacher of rites and ceremonies.
Centuries earlier, the demise of the Han Dynasty (which had explicitly allied itself with the Confucian school) effectively discredited many of the ideas classically forwarded by Confucius, Mencius and Xunzi.
Finally, no Roman historian ever describes Cleopatra as black, another odd omission from the propaganda against her if it was true.