Human-heartedness and Righteousness
With regard to the virtues of the individual, Confucius emphasized human-heartedness and righteousness, especially the former.
Righteousness (yi) means the "oughtness" of a situation.
It is a categorical imperative.
Every one in society has certain things which he ought to do, and which must be done for their own sake, because they are the morally right things to do.
If, however, he does them only because of other non-moral considerations, then even though he does what he ought to do, his action is no longer a righteous one.
To use a word often disparaged by Confucius and later confucianists, he is then acting for "profit."
Yi (righteousness) and li(profit) are in Confucianism diametrically opposed terms.
Confucius himself says: The superior man comprehends yi; the small man comprehends li. (Analects, IV, 16.)
Herein lies what the later Confucianists called the distinction between yi and li, a distinction which they considered to be of the utmost importance in moral teaching.
The idea of yi is rather formal, but that of jen (humanheartedness) is much more concrete.
The formal essence of the duties of man in sociely is their oughtness, because all these duties are what he ought to do.
But the material essence of these duties is "loving others, i.e., jen or human-heartedness.
The father acts according to the way a father should act who loves his son; the son acts according to the way a son should act who loves his father.
Confucius says: Human-heartedness consists in loving others. (Analects, XII, 2.2..)
The man who really loves others is one able to perform his duties in society.
Hence in the Analects we see that Confucius sometimes uses the word jen not only to denote a special kind of virtue, but also to denote all the virtues combined, so that the term "man of jen" becomes synonymous with the man of all-round virtue.
In such contexts, jen can be translated as "perfect virtue."