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And there could be no subject matter of such a confrontation for which it is both philosophically and morally more important to provide an account of this possibility than the theory 36 and practice of the virtues, as understood by Confucians on the one hand and Aristotelians on the other, since the radical conflicts involved, combining as they do a certain measure of agreement on important matters together with intractable and incommensurable differences, make it something of a paradigm case for the conversation between different cultures.

While there may be "primitive" concepts that have no equivalents expressible through concepts in the system, this does not allow the user of the scheme to escape these concepts' incommensurability, since the primitive concepts are not measured at all, either within the scheme or outside it. And if we enlarge the net (the scheme) to include an appropriate explanation for the concepts considered primitive before, the same problem recurs at a higher level and we generate an infinite regress that brings our efforts to naught.

Aristotelians need to understand the history of Confucianism as a form of moral inquiry and practice, as it has been, is, or would be written from a Confucian point of view, in order to be able to learn to identify those episodes in which Confucianism becomes in some way problematic for a sufficiently tough-minded and insightful Confucian. Confucians similarly need to understand the history of Aristotelianism as a theory and practice of the virtues in order to be able to learn to identify those episodes in which Aristotelianism is at least in danger of foundering, as judged by the Aristotelian standards of a sufficiently tough-minded and insightful Aristotelian.

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