Here’s an argument from Jiyuan Yu:
“for Confucius, being virtuous must involve an intellectual aspect, which he calls yi (義) a term which is etymologically related to yi (宜, ‘what is fitting’ or ‘what is appropriate’) and which I choose to translate as ‘appropriateness.’ Appropriateness is even said to be the most important factor for being an excellent person. In addition to Analects 4.10 […] Confucius also says: ‘for the excellent man it is appropriateness (yi) that is supreme.’ (17.23).”
(Ethics of Confucius and Aristotle, p. 140)
I’ve got to call Yu out on this one. There is absolutely no way one can justifiably read 17.23 as showing that yi is “the most important factor for being an excellent person” (I assume he means junzi). Why is this? Well, let’s look at the key bit of 17.23 being considered here:
君 子 義 以 為 上 ， 君 子 有 勇 而 無 義 為 亂 ， 小 人 有 勇 而 無 義 為 盜 。
(trans: The junzi should take yi as of greatest importance. The junzi who is brave but lacks yi will be disorderly. The petty person (xiao ren) who is brave by lacks yi will be a thief.)
I am unsure how anyone can use this to show that yi is a necessary condition for being a junzi. Not only does Confucius say that there can be a junzi without yi, “the junzi who is brave but lacks yi…”, but he compares such a person with a petty person who lacks yi, and finds that each type of person has different qualities–the junzi without yi will be disordered, the xiao ren without yi will be a thief. So it simply cannot be the case that being in line with yi is necessary or sufficient for being a junzi. If it’s necessary, then one cannot be a junzi without it, which 17.33 denies (as clearly as the bright noon sky). If it’s sufficient, then one with yi should qualify as a junzi, which seems inconsistent with 17.33 (the xiao ren who is brave but lacks yi is a thief, but one who is brave and has yi is not a xiao ren at all??)
Yu seems to be reading Confucius in this way in order to make him closer to Aristotle than he actually is. The above quote from Yu comes from a chapter in which Yu is arguing that Aristotle’s phronesis (practical wisdom) is similar to Confucius’ yi, in that they are both intellectual aspects of cultivation of virtue the possession of which are necessary for one to be virtuous. This is true for Aristotle’s phronesis, but it makes a joke out of 17.33–it seems to me that the only reason one would ever consider reading 17.33 the way Yu seems is because they have Aristotle glasses on. And even then, one has to deny that Confucius meant what he said in order to make it support the Aristotelian reading.