||The discussion of virtue–happiness relation has been veiled behind and scattering fragmentally in various discussions and texts of life and morality in China, even though as an insulated morality issue, it has a long history of discussions in western society. In fact, as early as Western Zhou Dynasty, the primitive corresponding relationship between virtue and happiness had been initially established as the primary Chinese virtue-happiness belief which started its implicit development then. And it has the absolute influence on the morality belief of the contemporary and future generations. It is believed that through the collation of this paper, it, a reappearing theory in early Western Zhou Dynasty, can be regarded as the initial connection between virtue and happiness that emperors prayed for Gods’ sacred orders by showing their respect for the good virtues. Emperors displayed good political ethics to acquire the blessings from gods and to ensure the eternal and lasting existence of the state. This is the archetype of the virtue-happiness belief, which was demonstrated in the political reign.
When it came to the Spring-Autumn and Warring States Period, all schools of thoughts contending, virtue-happiness belief had diversified. First, inherited from the culture of Zhou, while recognizing the influence of destiny, Confucius found the self virtue practice the intrinsic value which could be acquired upon replying the call of the Heaven and be recognized by self affirmation free of any external influence. His virtue thus, became the absolute primacy in the corresponding relationship between virtue and happiness. Mencius, who tried to find a solid humane basis for the Confucian virtue belief, not only emphasized virtue while neglecting happiness, he even had a tendency to suppress happiness and revere virtue wholeheartedly.
However, while Confucius and Mencius disregarded the secular values, they both ascertained a more profound happiness, that is the joy and delight brought by the virtue practice -- an extreme self cultivation and self affirmation experience gained from the virtue practice to heal the negative emotions generated from the fortune and misfortune of life, and to achieve an ideal state of eternal happiness. In this phase, the internal virtues can guarantee a complete harmony and therefore the accordance between virtue and happiness. For Hsun Tze, he emphasized music and rituals to assure the agreement between virtue and happiness. In the case of discord, nonetheless, agreeing fundamentally with the Confucian notion of happiness resulting from virtue practice, Hsun Tzu believed self cultivation achieved high morality and self-affirmation.
Secondly, the Taoism pursues the ultimate natural and eternal way, rather than the insignificant secular values that mean little to life. Taoists, and Lao Tau
believe that in chaotic time, the ultimate happiness comes from serene and self-sufficient life which is achieved by the virtue of wu wei. And Chuang Tzu as well, was seeking to maintain the innate ultimate purity virtue in which the great happiness was lead by the harmony of life and nature. This is the accordance between virtue and happiness in Taoism.
As to the Mohist and Legalism, the former raised the idea of heaven, earth, and spirits rewarding the goodness and punishing the evilness. The Heaven being the ultimate judge, has the divine power to rule on the punishment or reward for human merits or immoral acts, and to maintain an unwavering accordance between virtue and happiness. The latter deals with the problem from the political perspectives. To the Legalism, virtue and happiness correspond with each other through respecting rulers and obeying the law. It is a reward punishment system under the political control.
With a mutual recognition of virtuous people being worthy of happiness, yet with individual perceptions to life and time, the Pre-Chin philosophers had diverse virtue-happiness concepts concealed behind various political theories or views about life. Overall, the Pre-Chin virtue-happiness thinking can be summarized to two general trends of development: first, the spiritual elevation, and the other is the implementation of social systems. The former are Confucius, Mencius, Lao Tzu and Chuang Tzu who overcame spiritually the predicament of discord between virtue and happiness by virtue practice to realize happiness and to achieve ideal virtue-happiness accordance. The latters are Hsun Tzu and Hanfei Tzu who implemented social organization and orders in chaotic society. However, the virtue-happiness notion in the social systems, eventually had been immersed in the various social fairness and justices which were extremely similar to the notion. What truly created a profound influence was the virtue-happiness ideal advocated by Confucius, Mencius, Lao Tzu, and Chuang Tzu. The ideal of virtue and moral integrity change leading to the eternal happiness, and with the universal meaning of life, has become one of the most important Chinese moral beliefs over the years.