Think of Righteousness in the Face of Gain
When faced with gain one should first consider and distinguish whether the obtainment of gain is in accord with morality. This is a Confucian criterion for dealing with the relation between righteousness and gain. Between the pursuit of gain and the upholding of morality a conflict has long existed. Because people more often than not may covet personal gain and overlook morality, their actions may go against virtue and violate the law. Against this kind of situation Confucius advanced the stand of “thinking of righteousness in the face of gain,” proposing that people should strive for gain on the basis of the principle of morality. He who knows morality is a man of virtue, and he who blindly pursues gain is a petty man.
- 见利思义，见危授命，久要不忘平生之言，亦可以为成人矣。 （《论语·宪问》）
He who when faced with gain thinks of righteousness, who when confronted with danger is ready to lay down his life, and who does not forget a past promise despite enduring poverty, may be considered a true man! (The Analects)