Of Poetry and Ethics

38 Pages Posted: 30 Aug 2013 Last revised: 8 May 2014

See all articles by Donghua Chen

Donghua Chen

Nanjing University

Oliver Zhen Li

National University of Singapore (NUS)

Bernard Yin Yeung

National University of Singapore - Business School

Junli Yu

Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU) - School of International and Public Affairs

Date Written: January 13, 2014

Abstract

Ethics is an important determinant of good governance. However, ethical value is hard to observe, and selecting employees and officials based on ethics can be a challenging task. Ancient Chinese philosophy suggests that poems reflect their authors’ “inner purpose.” During the Tang, one of the most prosperous dynasties in China, the government had a practice of selecting government officials based on the artistic quality of their poems. We thus hypothesize a positive association between the quality of poetry and its author’s ethics. Using historical archival records of civil service officials’ ethics and the artistic quality of their poems during China’s Tang Dynasty, we find a positive association between poetry and ethics and thus preliminary circumstantial evidence that ethical people can be a basis for good organizations.

Keywords: Ethics, Poetry, Jinshi, Tang Dynasty

JEL Classification: D80, D90, G30, H70, J50, K40, M12, N35, N45, Z00

Suggested Citation

Chen, Donghua and Li, Oliver Zhen and Yeung, Bernard Yin and Yu, Junli, Of Poetry and Ethics (January 13, 2014). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2317787 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2317787

Donghua Chen

Nanjing University ( email )

Nanjing, Jiangsu 210093
China

Oliver Zhen Li (Contact Author)

National University of Singapore (NUS) ( email )

Bukit Timah Road 469 G
Singapore, 117591
Singapore

Bernard Yin Yeung

National University of Singapore - Business School ( email )

15 Kent Ridge Drive
BIZ 1 Level 6
Singapore, 119245
Singapore
65 6516 3075 (Phone)
65 6779 1365 (Fax)

Junli Yu

Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU) - School of International and Public Affairs ( email )

Shanghai, 200030
China

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