Kien Thi Pham[2]

Xuan Dung Bui[3]


Abstract: Nguyen Trai is a great Vietnamese patriotic philosopher, one of theall-time great personalities. Nguyen Trai lived in the 15th century; his thoughts have become a great example of Vietnamese ethics, culture, soul, and wisdom. The paper studied Nguyen Trai’s philosophical thoughts to help develop a prosperous and happy country using the nation’s traditional cultural values. The article uses the methodology of dialectical materialism as a general principle and a specific historical principle to evaluate Nguyen Trai’s benevolence and righteousness in terms of compassion, justice, and management, associated with the interests of the people, the community, and society. The article also uses analytical and synthesis methods to highlight the content of benevolence and righteousness in the cultural tradition of the Vietnamese nation today. The Covid-19 pandemic had affected the world in general and Vietnam in particular. So Nguyen Trai’s thought culture is powerfully and effectively prompt in responding to the Covid-19 pandemic in Vietnam and other countries today. In this article, Nguyen Trai’s benevolence and righteousness fairness clearly define the responsibility of the state and the obligation of citizens to promote the traditional cultural values of the nation.

Keywords: Benevolence and Righteousness. Cultural. Nguyen Trai. Vietnamese.



Benevolence and righteousness appeared quite early in the history of ancient Chinese philosophy. Many well-known Confucian scholars, including Confucius, Mencius, Xunzi, Dong Zhongshu, etc., discuss benevolence and righteousness. These philosophers all argued that human relationships are essential to love and morality benevolence and righteousness have existed for a long time in the history of Vietnamese thought. Nguyen Trai has to expand benevolence and righteousness to a new era level – something he achieved before and even in his time. In Nguyen Trai’s view, benevolence and righteousness are the trade-offs for people. Benevolence and righteousness mean tolerance; Generosity is the ideal for building a peaceful and prosperous country. In particular, Nguyen Trai’s “kind and just” thought is significant in his time and traditional cultural values of Vietnam today and perhaps in the future. Therefore, it is necessary to study Nguyen Trai’s benevolence and righteousness thoughts which emphasized the importance of a responsible lifestyle education for the community and people. Especially in the context of globalization with views and lifestyles promoting individualism in the context of a world crisis like the Covid-19 pandemic. The appreciation of Nguyen Trai’s benevolence and righteousness is a good value for all societies, even Vietnam, Brazil, China, Europe, Africa, Americas, etc. since all have to move forward.


1 Materials and Methods

This article uses the methodology of dialectical materialism are a comprehensive principle and a specific historical principle to study the entire philosophical thought of Nguyen Trai Vietnam clarifies the ideology of benevolence and righteousness. The article uses a comprehensive methodology to collect and synthesize all research documents on the history of Vietnam in the 15th century in the Dai Viet history book, the history of Vietnam, and the history of traditional philosophy. The methodology is the historical principle; the article evaluates Nguyen Trai’s philosophy with the concept of humanity which inherits Confucianism, Buddhism, and Daoism. Thereby clarifying Nguyen Trai’s thought of benevolence and righteousness has become the culture of the Vietnamese nation.

In addition, the article also uses the methods of analysis, synthesis, and explanation to clarify Nguyen Trai’s thought of “filial piety and respect” in the 15th century and its values ​​in building a culture. Now, the culture of Vietnam in the current social context. The world is heavily affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, national cultural ideas about benevolence and righteousness have helped Vietnam cope well with the past and the near future pandemic.

Nguyen Trai’s benevolence and righteousness in the history of 15th-century Vietnam is a step forward. The paper uses a comprehensive method and concrete arguments of dialectical materialism to clarify that benevolence and righteousness are goodness and kindness. Nguyen Trai’s benevolence and righteousness thought have their unique values. This article defines that Nguyen Trai’s research on benevolence and righteousness has been formed in Vietnam and become a cultural value of Vietnam, especially in Vietnam’s current fight against Covid-19.

According to Douzinas (2005), the Western philosopher argues that humanity is both a moral virtue and a desirable quality of political society which applies to ethical and social decision-making. That is evident in the western philosophical concepts of benevolence and righteousness as justice of Plato and Aristotle, Augustine and Aquinas, or Hobbes and Hume, Kant, Mill, and Rawls. The above philosophers consider benevolence and righteousness with justice, freedom and social problems. For Plato, benevolence and righteousness is a virtue of establishing the correct order with each department performing its proper role and not interfering with the proper functioning of other departments. Aristotle said benevolence and righteousness consist of justice and fairness related to equitable distribution and correcting what is unfair. For Augustine, the cardinal’s virtue of justice requires that we strive to grant all rights; For Aquinas, benevolence and righteousness are the logical meaning of opposite types of injustice that involve proportional distribution and reciprocal transactions. Hobbes believed that justice was a false virtue, necessary for civil society, a function of the voluntary agreements of social contracts; For Hume, benevolence essentially serves the common good by protecting property (in general). Kant’s philosophy refers to justice as a virtue and right to respect, freedom, autonomy, and dignity of each person. Mill’s philosophy says that it is a utility of society. Everyone is the freedom of man. And Rawls analyzed justice for equal liberties of all members of the community. Therefore, justice in Western philosophy is the freedom of every individual in society. Western philosophers often regard justice as the most fundamental foundation of all virtues for arranging interpersonal relationships and establishing and maintaining a stable political community, monitoring the historical interaction of these theories. What is the growing understanding of justice regarding free, rational agents? One may disagree on the nature, basis, and application of legal justice, but this is at its core.

The article uses a comprehensive methodology and the specific history of dialectical materialism to clarify the words and righteous thought of the Confucian philosophical system as a doctrine that Nguyen Trai influenced while being educated. According to Brister (2021), man associates with meaning in Confucian classics, Confucianism conceives human compassion, which only means what is worthy of following the correct morality and reason. The cause is considered the root of the importance. The cause is the vast love, the affection that is the feeling in the five primary human relationships (the year of the chakra): the King, my father, and son, my spouse, brothers, friends. It is the human responsibility to carry out the cause (i.e., commitment in the five primary relationships mentioned above). I am clarifying Confucianism’s benevolence and righteousness thoughts to see Nguyen Trai’s creativity in expressing his philosophical opinion applied to the specific social context of Vietnam in the 15th century.

The article also uses analytical and aggregated methods to clarify the essential contents of Nguyen Trai’s benevolence and righteousness thoughts, thereby expressing the factors that constitute cause, effect and meaning; Simultaneously, it codified his Beijing legitimate beliefs. Since then, the article clarifies Nguyen Trai’s ideological values for the construction and development of the cultural traditions of the Vietnamese people today. Vietnam has taken its people to the root of its rule. The people are the goal of developing a prosperous country. People live a warm and happy life in the ideal society that Vietnam strives to build.


2 Research questions

1. How is Nguyen Trai’s idea of benevolence and righteousness?

2. What are Nguyen Trai’s benevolence and righteousness thoughts?

3. How does Nguyen Trai’s idea of benevolence and righteousness mean for Vietnamese culture today?


3 Ideological content

3.1. Nguyen Trai Biography

Nguyen Trai (1380 - 1442) was a great national hero and a rare talented figure of Vietnamese history in feudal times. Nguyen Trai, named Ưc Trai, was born in Thang Long to Tran Nguyen Dan’s grandfather dynasty. His father was Nguyen Ung Long (called Nguyen Phi Khanh). His mother is Tran Thai, daughter Tran Nguyen Dan. As an official of the Priest under the kings Tran Nghe Tong, Tran Du Tong, and Tran Phe De. Nguyen Trai comes from the maternal side of the feudal Dynasty. He is a famous, intelligent and talented person. Nguyen Trai lost his mother at the age of 5, so his upbringing was due to his father. That’s why his feelings for his father are so deep.

According to Ngo Si Lien (1998), Nguyen Trai appointed King Ho Quy Ly as a chief historian. In 1400, Ho Quy Ly overthrew the Chen dynasty and continued implementing reforms such as a slavery policy, deadline payment, reorganization of education, examinations, and health. Shortly after being crowned King, Ho Quy Ly opened the exam room. Nguyen Trai took the exam. He passed the exam to become a doctor when he was 20. His father, Nguyen Phi Khanh, tested the exam Doctor in 1374, but he chose to be a teacher not an official. By 1400, when Ho Quy Ly founded the Ho Dynasty, he became an official for the Ho Dynasty and was appointed as a scholar’s scholar, then promoted to The Grand Master, Self-Agent Lieutenant General of Thi Lang, Private Prince.

In 1406, The Ming Dynasty in China invaded Vietnam. The Ho Dynasty fought back but was defeated. Ho Quy Ly’s father, a son and several courtesies, including Nguyen Phi Khanh, were captured by the Ming army and sent to China. According to Phan Ngoc 2010), when his father left, Nguyen Trai and his young brother Nguyen Phi Hung cried and followed his father to the border Nam Quan. He wanted to serve their elderly father during their captivity. But Nguyen Phi Khanh said to Nguyen Trai: You were an educated, talented person, so you should try to avenge me. Does your son cry like a girl like a woman? (Confucianism conceived that women under the triad law should be weak and depend on men. Men are princes, so they have to train themselves to be strong men, that is, to follow kindness and fairness). Nguyen Trai listened to his father return to find a way to fight the enemy and save the country.

Returning to Thang Long, the Ming army captured and imprisoned Nguyen Trai. Hoang Phuc of Minh Thuong knew Nguyen Trai was a talented figure and tried to entice and seduce him, but he was determined not to follow the enemy.

According to Phan Huy Chu (2005), in 1407, Nguyen Trai went to see Le Loi, the leader of the Lam son army in Lei Giang, Thanh Hoa province. After detention in Dong Quan (Ha Noi capital), Nguyen Trai overcame the enemy siege to escape. He joined Le Loi in the Lam Son uprising against the Ming army. Nguyen Trai presented Le Loi with his strategy for driving out the Ming army, which the Vietnamese history books call Binh Ngo Book. Ngo The Vinh commented on a collection of poems by Uc Trai: According to Nguyen Trai (1976), Nguyen Trai’s plan to fight the enemy was to use the art of provoking the generals to lure the arrogant and contemptuous enemy into a place where our insurgent army would ambush him. The next step is to use a strategy to hit the hearts of generals and soldiers, causing fear and insecurity of the enemy, shaking the enemy will to invade. According to Tran Huy Lieu (1966), in the resistance war against the Ming army, from 1418 to 1427, Nguyen Trai advocated relying on the people to fight the enemy and save the country. When the country was at peace, Nguyen Trai declared that the feudal state must build and develop. King Le schemed the ten years of resistance against the Ming army: the letters from the subpoena to the Ming general were written with one hand. After chasing foreign invaders to The Ship, Nguyen Trai established the rank of Servant, which was listed as the first state in the reign of King Le Thai Tong. He made An Interior Minister (i.e., Prime Minister).

According to Nguyen Trai (1976), in his life as a cadre, worrying about things for the country must be before everything else; being happy with everyone’s happiness must be pleased after everything. Nguyen Trai always lives a simple life, needing to save integrity. His house in Dong Kinh (Thang Long) is just a cottage (the corner of the tent is in the South, and there is one room). When he ruled the militia on the Northeast Island, his home in Con Son: four empty sides with no objects, houses with only books as valuables. In his life, he constantly worries about what the world has to worry about, happy after the world’s joy. According to Nguyen Trai (1976), in his letter of thanks, Nguyen Trai which appointed as the central council of interest of the three military masters. He wrote: Great people have to worry in front of everyone and be happy without anyone seeing. According to Ngo Si Lien (1998), in 1437, when King Le Thai Tong sent him to perform a musical ceremony, he also told the King that the King had to stabilize and develop the nation: Dare to love the emperor, love and present everything. All people abandoned the villages and neighborhoods, no anger and melancholy, that is, keep the roots of music.

Around the end of 1437, the beginning of 1438, Nguyen Trai retired and lived in Con Son - where he was once his grandfather’s fief. In 1442, Le Thai Tong, King of patrolling the East, reviewed martial arts in Chi Linh district, Hai Duong province. Nguyen Trai took a distance to visit the Con Son pagoda in Chi Linh district, Hai Duong province. The King died in action, and the mandarins accused Nguyen Trai of killing the King. They destroyed his family for three generations. In 1464, King Le Thanh Tong vindicated Nguyen Trai after committing crimes and asking for his descendants’ rest.


3.2. Basic contents of Nguyen Trai’s benevolence and righteousness

Nguyen Trai’s concept of benevolence and righteousness is love in the policy of living for happiness, kindness, and career settlement of all classes of people in the same culture, language, territory, and customs. According to Nguyen Trai (1976, p. 324), “Benevolence and core righteousness in the people / The Army punished for nonviolence for the first time.”

It is the law of nature, society, history. No state has the right in the name of any power to infringe on the shores and culture of other peoples. These are human values, benevolence, and righteousness rights as a god that all peoples should respect. Contrary or violated, that value violates justice, a tyranny that needs to eliminate. According to Nguyen Trai (1976, p. 326), “When Han, Tang, Yuan, Song invaded all failed bitterly. So Liu Cong was greedy and had to lose / Zhao Xuan wanted to run as fast as possible / Toa Do was caught at the mouth of Ham Tu / O Ma had to die on the Bach Dang River […]  God, angry/Heaven, the earth did not tolerate it.”

Nguyen Trai’s benevolence and righteousness are the unity. That holds the will of heaven and the human heart, humanitarianism. Nguyen Trai’s ideological view of benevolence and righteousness results from inheriting the traditional philosophical ideas of the East in general and the history of the Vietnamese in particular. Nguyen Trai’s benevolence and righteousness become a culture of the nation. It flows according to the tradition of the culture of kindness and justice of the Vietnamese people later. For Nguyen Trai, benevolence and righteousness are an idea and primary methods of reasoning. Because it is the convergence of human thought passed down from generation to generation. The content of this thought is to express as follows. In a word, the benevolence and righteousness concept indicates a combination of promoting good and forbidding evil, the function of which can be performed both morally and politically.

First, the benevolence and righteousness thought means patriotism, merchants.

Nguyen Trai’s life, career, and mindset have left many profound ideas and philosophies for Vietnam. It is closely attached to Vietnamese society, knows how to forget foreign invaders, study, diligently improve itself, and develop cultural, social, political, and military knowledge. The benevolence and righteousness of Vietnamese must be independent, free and happy people who deserve respect and service. In other words, The Vietnamese are of Vietnamese society, serving Vietnamese society; Vietnamese society is a Vietnamese person helping the Vietnamese people. That’s all, and there’s no other meta-problem. Nguyen Tai Thu (1993, p. 172), “It’s the idea of real people.” Benevolence and righteousness mean patriotism, the love of the people, which is different from the human spirit of Confucianism. Confucius’ humanitarian view was to make the prince’s name loyal to the King and gracious to his father. Nguyen Trai expresses the human spirit with the country; pious is with the people in the nation. Nguyen Trai’s benevolence and righteousness are obtain when it is associated with the national interest, which is independence, governmental freedom and the happiness of the people. Benevolence and righteousness must come from patriotism and love for the Vietnamese people. Nguyen Trai has been for the country and the people all his life. He contributed to the protection and construction of the country, not for the rights of the Tran Dynasty, Ho Dynasty, and his reputation and status. When associated with the national interest, Trai’s benevolence and righteousness are the independence, freedom of the nation and happiness of the people. Benevolence and righteousness must come from patriotism and love for the Vietnamese people. Before Tran’s downfall, according to Nguyen Trai (1976, p. 488),

The Tran Dynasty relied on their power to get rich, despite the misery, / Forgetting the extraordinary task of caring for the people, for the country/The people hated without knowing, has to reprimand without fear... As a result, the country’s deciding, disciplined policies are disturbed. Coming to the Ho Dynasty, Nguyen Trai said: Recently, the people complained: because the Ho House is unruly, / The people hate./ The Minh Army has the opportunity to harm the people, / interested in selling water./ the people live like their on fire, / Push the red into a deep cave.


Therefore, kindness and justice are to save the country from aggression. When the state was at peace, Nguyen Trai built a policy, an economy, defense, culture, education in the period of peace. It was to take care of the masses to settle down, permanently free from the misery of slavery. According to Nguyen Trai (1976, p. 324),

The thick blood of the people today is to build tomorrow / District was heavy tax collection; / In the village there is no weaving noise./ Water, The South China Sea, does not easily wash away dirt, / Chopping down all the structures in Nam Son forest is not enough to record the crime. Therefore, Nguyen Trai only hopes to drive out the allies: Society is stable, / the country renewed./ Heaven and Earth are peaceful from here/ The sun and moon will be bright from now on. The government has ushered in long-term prosperity. The nation has washed away the shame of existing.


According to Tran Huy Lieu (1966), Nguyen Trai thinks the King governs the people so that they do not have to complain about the suffering in society. According to Nguyen Trai, the meaning is to care for the peoples’ life, to meet their aspirations by policies to manage the country, the state must take political purposes for the people to serve. That means striving to the end against foreign invaders, destroying the enemy’s brutality, fighting for the country’s independence and the people’s happiness. Nguyen Trai’s benevolence and righteousness thought are of high value; It inherits the importance of Buddhism with the spirit of compassion, salvation, and rescuing people from suffering. Daoism is benevolence, and righteousness is the religion of heaven and earth, which is to follow nature to act. Confucianism is about keeping the spirit of loyalty to the country and being hospitable to the people. Besides, the Dynasty tradition is a sincere and noble way of life, inheriting patriotism, compassion and wisdom. Especially the compassionate and righteous thoughts of the Vietnamese people must always change their face in the scene of boiling oil and fire chaos. It is the soul of benevolence and righteousness in the historical reality of the Vietnamese people. Therefore, Nguyen Trai’s benevolence, and righteousness are the love of the country, love for the people and the idea of fighting against invaders, protecting national sovereignty, developing the country peacefully.

Second, benevolence and righteousness mean that each person trains and cultivates himself to live for the community, for others.

Nguyen Trai’s thought of benevolence and righteousness shows his personality within a person. It is obtained through the training and nurturing of each person. The benevolence and righteousness of people expressed through their behavior in relationships. With benevolence and righteousness, Nguyen Trai is ready to suffer hardship, hunger, a thirst to fight against the enemy aggression and maintain national independence and sovereignty. However, when the enemy surrenders, he uses kindness and justice to treat the enemy with tolerance, the generosity of buying ships and providing food to live peacefully with their families. Nguyen Trai responded to Phuong Chinh’s letter. According to Nguyen Trai (1976, p. 450), “The Leader is general of the army, benevolence and righteousness must be his root, bravely doing what the thinks is necessary. The grand plan must take the cause to heart, and the great work must take the people as the head.” When the country is peaceful, the benevolence and righteousness of Nguyen Trai focus on educating the people to know how to develop the country. Nguyen Trai’s benevolence and righteousness are also an understanding of the suffering from misery when the country invades. He said it was the government’s responsibility to raise and increase the production and livestock, quickly lift people out of poverty and the oppressive exploitation of the invaders. Therefore, Nguyen Trai advocates that as soon as the country is peaceful, the most urgent task of the state is to ensure that people are not hungry or torn, bringing people to the ceremony, a cultural lifestyle, order, and discipline in society. The thought of letting go of disturbing emotions in Buddhist philosophy, the naturally inconceivable belief in Daoism, and the idea of filial piety manifested in Nguyen Trai’s views when feudal society showed limitations. According to Nguyen Trai (2014, p. 70),

Fame was leisure./ Don’t worry about good, evil, praise, or blame./ The pond is dry to pick up water, spinach,/ Radiant lotus grass/. The wind and moon are full on the storehouse roof,/ The boat carrying the saddle is so heavy then/ I have both Loyalty and filial piety/ Grinding non-defects, not dying them black.


In feudal society, it has made people increasingly degenerate, against self-interest, against jealousy, fighting more, caring for superiors, and trampling the weak is inevitable. Therefore, people suffered a lot in feudal court. Nguyen Trai expressed his views and advised people to give in, endure themselves and give others an extra part to pray for harmony. In addition to the need to do all his duties diligently, for loyalty, filial piety, abandonment of embezzlement, and good laziness, he also urgently demanded humility, not meaninglessness. According to Nguyen Trai (2014, p. 29), “The humble alley is morality, and who is easy to do?” It is also a good moral value in the traditions of the Vietnamese people.

Third, benevolence and righteousness are tolerance for the enemy so that the people and soldiers can be at peace.

Nguyen Trai’s benevolence and righteousness are fighting against the invading enemy to protect the people’s peace. Nguyen Trai’s bearable and honest thought is to act for the people, save the people and the country. Benevolence and righteousness are not doomed to people’s suffering. According to Nguyen Trai (1976, p. 324), “The blessed man burn in the furnace of tyranny, the little child pushed into the pit of calamity. They were lying to God to deceive people. The plot of thousands of difficulties, invasions, and evils must accumulate over nearly twenty years.” The struggles to liberate the nation from oppression and destruction in our nation’s history are only resistance; It is both a purpose and a method for achieving universal human values. From a weak and lacking force in the early days of the army, Lam Son command’s popular policy focused on the shining righteous contents, causing the enemy to flinch and become highly divided. Until there are strong soldiers, that policy continues to be consistent. The art of meteorology is applied flexibly to each specific situation and enemy object. According to Nguyen Trai (1976, p. 103), benevolence and righteousness are about making the “four seas of peace”. Thus, the expectation of peace between the peoples of the two countries is completely justified, in line with the two countries’ aspirations. He always desires that the culture is applied according to the country’s rule. According to Nguyen Trai (1976, p. 93), “The heart wants to rest with the people, culture must be peaceful.” The holy heart of the retired people should feel the culture of shared peace. With benevolence and righteousness, Nguyen Trai advised Le Loi not to kill soldiers but also to provide salaries and means to return home, which is the power to drive the enemy with justice. And use your mind to see through the psychology of what their enemies want and what they need. Analyze the weaknesses and strengths of the enemy to open them up to the right plan. It is tolerant and meaningful to the enemy to invade the country. In short, Nguyen Trai’s benevolence and righteousness are ultimately human love, compassion, and justice.

Fourth, benevolence and righteousness mean that the state must take the people as the root of the country’s peace and prosperity.

Nguyen Trai was born and raised in turbulent times. He also suffered the pain of separating from his Dynasty. Therefore, Nguyen Trai understands human suffering and the values of peace. Thus, Nguyen Trai’s benevolence and righteousness bring peace to the people. In his letter to the enemy general, he called for the surrender of the stronghold. Nguyen Trai mentioned a lot about it. Nguyen Trai’s thoughts on benevolence and righteousness also mean respect and gratitude to the people. Even after the successful resistance, the “people” appreciated that the country was liberated and moved towards a new chapter. Nguyen Trai understands that people produce food and clothing; That the emperor’s palace is built on people’s sweat.

According to Nguyen Trai (1976, p. 437), “The benefit that the mandarins in the imperial court enjoy is to repay the people’s merit.” Nguyen Trai has lived his whole life close to the people. He, therefore, clearly saw the noble qualities of the people, understood their earnest aspirations, and witnessed their great power in creating national history benevolence and righteousness means seeing people as the nation’s roots being close to them, compassionate, and working for them. It is best and fair to save the water and its people, the power of benevolence and righteousness for such a program to stop. Nguyen Trai’s thought is also the strength to defend the fatherland, expressed through the role of a patriot also emphasized. According to Phan Ngoc (2010, p. 216), “Every century there are heroes who have sacrificed their lives for the country.” It’s a very new and humane perspective of Nguyen Trai. According to Nguyen Trai (1976), the view of governing the country: The land belongs to the people, it does not belong to the King, any court, the King is only the ruler of the country, not the owner of the country. Nguyen Trai’s point is that whoever eats fruit must remember the planter, the plower, the King’s responsibility and that of the officials to follow and take care of the people. He advised the court not to collect heavy taxes but to take care of people’s learning. According to Nguyen Trai (1976, p. 196), “The palace is beautiful but full of purely luxurious customs.; According to his decision, it amounts to a hundred years of resentment.” His spirit, the court must implement a humane political line for the people with the content of tax reduction, making the people warm, except for the sadists to protect the people. That issue represents critical points, such as seeing people as the root of the country, respecting communities, and promoting community thought. As one of the participants in the Lam Son uprising and then holding the first officials of the Le dynasty, Nguyen Trai saw the role of the people, how to exploit and promote human resources to successfully carry out political tasks. Therefore, he dreamed of a miracle that could bring a rich life to the people at one point. According to Nguyen Trai (1976, p. 253), “Perhaps stupidly holding the piano for an hour / Rich people all over the country.” In the Commandment of the Crown Prince, on behalf of King Le. According to Nguyen Trai (1976, p. 60), “People are carrying boats and those capsizing boats are also people. The boat capsized to believe that the people were like water.”

Since then, Nguyen Trai has said that all of the court’s policies, guidelines, and treatment are in people’s hearts. Those who agree have power. Therefore, what is not supported by the people is abandonment, not against the people. According to Nguyen Trai (1976), for people to decide, it is necessary to unite them with love by treating them fairly regarding their rights and taking care of their legitimate aspirations and interests. It is a correct concept of Nguyen Trai, although he has not raised the issue of the relationship between obligation and rights. Nguyen Trai’s booty and righteous thought were to express in the spirit of a talented person. The history of previous dynasties, building the bureau authorities conducts nominating descendants, relatives of the King and officials. That leads to a prolonged regime. The quality of the staff is poor, accustomed to living a plush life, far from the people, not seeing the real life of the people and the county’s needs. According to Nguyen Trai, the state should use talent. Talent comes from the people. The people are the factor that makes the country’s prosperity peaceful. A regime is only truly dominant when the people support it.

Fifth, Nguyen Trai’s benevolence and righteousness are the creative inheritance of Confucian, Buddhist, and Daoism.

The three philosophical ideas that greatly influence Vietnam mainstream boat philosophy are Confucianism, Buddhism, and Daoism. These three philosophical ideas have penetrated Vietnamese human social life and have become the traditional cultural values of the nation. That stems from the philosophical thought of Nguyen Trai. When studying Nguyen Trai’s review, Confucian thought manifested in Nguyen Trai’s role in the Le Sơ dynasty, which carried out the monopolistic Confucianism in state management. According to Nguyen Huu Son (2007), Nguyen Trai’s thoughts on Buddhism and Daoism in philosophy are expressed in his poetic works with moral admonitions.

As a Confucian, Nguyen Trai believed in heaven’s destiny, in the holy religion, although performing the sage and succeeding on the path of fame became a scourge for himself. According to Nguyen Trai (1976, p.  325): “It is difficult to avoid one’s destiny, / Not to destroy that sacred religion by heaven.” (According to Nguyen Trai (1976, p. 2998), no matter how much people try to escape their predestined fate, they cannot: “Lie to the sky and then tell the sky-high, / What hidden is hidden from the heaven net?” That’s why you learned your lesson. It is, to be honest, to preserve the primary religion to avoid disaster. According to Nguyen Hung Hau (1998, p. 147-148), in the yoke, Trung Dung also said: “The disaster, the blessing to come, even good can know in advance, even the unwilling can know in advance. Therefore, the will is as smooth as a god.” (Blessed will, uncovering all good prophets. Try to become like a god.

Nguyen Trai’s benevolence and righteousness in Buddhist philosophy express his leisurely and reclusive lifestyle. His life is associated with the impermanence of nature. He looks at the moon, and he looks at the lake water, where people noticed “legs like,” “Buddha-nature.” Lovely natural scenery harmoniously without cutting down trees to displace birds. According to Nguyen Trai (1976, p. 405), he added to his pleasures: “The greedy moon does not let go of fish, / The forest regrets birds for fear of tree development. / Oil dust who asked, / This man had this beast.” Influenced By Buddhist philosophy, Nguyen Trai has shown a kind heart, giving the perseverance of the Buddhists. That is also the “middle” view in Confucian philosophy.

According to Nguyen Trai (1976, p. 443), “[…] it is human love; we should not be doing anything to harm others but should accumulate virtue to bless the children and grandchildren: Blessed many sisters by where I accumulate, / Spring comes naturally all new things. / There is to keep property every day, / resentful people worry about complaining about people.” Buddhism said that the giving is the rest, said to be, not lost. Nguyen Trai (1976, p. 446) wrote: “Of the world island, / The difficulty must be the better porridge. / Seeing the food coming is complete,/Supporting each other must be a blow. Please don’t hurt the selfish person,/Be virtuous to give it to me. /Whose hands feed the mouth,/Anorexia sitting eating mountains.” Nguyen Trai’s Buddhist and Confucian philosophical thoughts are expressed by: “giving”. Give back to yourself (Buddhism) and your children (Confucianism). The Buddhists consider human life to be suffering, man himself to be selfless, and alms is one of the acts of cultivating good karma so that man is soon freed. What the Confucian family needs is how to make the descendants effectively promote their father’s good traditions. To achieve that, they must be a shining example to educate their children and grandchildren in real life. “The Light of The Light” is a shining example of the older generation that remains for their descendants; in turn, their descendants take it as pride and continue to “brighten the wisdom of the ancestors” (University). The meeting between Buddha and Grape is exciting and profound.

The philosophical thought of Daoism and Confucianism both refers to the general concept of “Daoism”; however, the Confucian “Tao” is associated with relationships in society and is regulated by “cause, ceremony, and legitimacy.” The concept of society is also different from Daoists, believing that the ruler is the primary humanistic way. The virtuous will have many people to follow, people living virtuously, significantly the goodwill, followers, and many children and thus have great blessings. Wealth is associated with fame. To achieve human fame, people must learn, and go from “[…] cultivating, to family, rule of the state, peace of the world.” And the “Tao” of Lao Trang is the natural “Tao”. Being “inanimate” is considered the optimal principle of human behavior. The ideal social concept is that society is a small country; people must live in need and not fight each other. In particular, Daoism’s eternally meaningful positive point is the anti-war ideology, i.e., against the destruction of nature, against all causes of human greed, competition, and destruction of each other.

According to Nguyen Trai (1976, p. 440), when talking about painting, he also expressed his thought of combining Grapes - Tao:

The blessing of the common is the painting of the common, / Grasping is not the blessing of the end. / Written literature takes the holy verse, / The cause of the rewind must be faithful” From the Daoist point of view, blessings are always interesting; the boundaries between them are difficult to distinguish, to know that there must be sincerity.


Thus, benevolence and righteousness thought expressed in the philosophy of Confucianism, Buddhism, and Daoism in Nguyen Trai’s opinion sounds like a unified dialectical way to choose a quiet, comfortable, and enjoyable lifestyle. In Nguyen Trai’s thought, the combination of Confucianism, Buddhism, and Daoism has become a teaching philosophy. He advised people not to value material things but to live with virtue, understand the enduring value of morality, and value the soul’s honor and wealth rather than the wealth of money. Fame is there but it’s not significant. Morality is the root of personality. To be moral, we must do good, live with filial piety, have air, bend, pray for fame, complain, forgive others, live clean, healthy, pure, and always face our weaknesses. That is the philosophical idea of Daoism in the conception of human life. Daoism’s concept of life denied fame, self-lessness, inconsolable, and harmony with nature. According to Nguyen Trai (1976, p. 454), while maintaining the commandments of the Buddhists, the purity and self-preservation of Daoism are also to preserve the traditional values of each house: “Seeing benefits makes sense, / The west makes the passion.” That means it should not be for its gain to give up meaning but to show a passion for the benefit.

According to Nguyen Trai (1976, p. 460), avoid greed and money is to avoid because excessive anger will lose peace, leading to forgetting the cause: “[…] anger hurts peace, / It has been helpful to me. / If the blood race fails the reason, / The heartbreak.” According to Nguyen Trai (1976, p. 459), greed and passion will adversely affect family happiness, i.e., harm the “focus on social relationships” that Confucian focus on: “Sharpness is what passion is! / When there is a room of reflection […] Defeat of the family of life seen, / Spiritual damage to the good. / The patriarch is usually okay, / Connected to the harmony sometimes.” The concept of Daoism, Grapes, and Buddhas in Nguyen Trai’s thought is united in him because the prince’s name should be ready to do the cause. According to Nguyen Trai (1976, p. 420), it is not acceptable to punish the enemy because of Buddhist compassion: “A heart that is not greedy is a treasure;/The person free from greed is a fairy.” Or according to Nguyen Trai (1976, p. 423), “It is better to be rich in heart than in fame, / Self-harming body at the harmony animal”.


Final considerations

From studying Nguyen Trai’s benevolence and righteousness thought, we see the need to build and develop fair values in Vietnamese culture today.

Firstly, benevolence and righteousness take the people as the root with the appreciation of the common good, collective interests and spirit. It’s a value mentioned a lot and has many expressions in practice and everyday communication. Benevolence and righteousness promote community development. That is different from individualism.

Nguyen Trai’s benevolence and righteousness have become a cultural tradition; customs are part of the Vietnamese people. It is a national structure to indicate the difference between Vietnam and other peoples. It is an expressional source, the formation of national development, vitality, and independence. At all times, the state must take the people as the root; A happy country is a goal for the Vietnamese people to defeat all enemies. Benevolence and righteousness remain a value that needs to promote the nation’s strength, reaching the highest level. In an e-mail Nguyen Trai sent to Bac Giang to show the enemy Vietnam’s traditional power. According to Nguyen Trai (1976, p. 522),

The North has its own, and The South has its own. There is also the country of Annam, known as the land of poetry. Each direction is different. But talented people have always been there. The best way for the Ming army is to take off their armor and surrender. The lieutenant to submissively takes us back to Annam’s independent state. That way, both sides benefit. Gaining independence, he still declared his responsibility to preserve the country’s customs, considering it one of the nation’s vital sources. The people of the South must not imitate Wu, Chiem, Laos, Siam or Chan Lap’s language and costumes to disturb its own customs.


Nguyen Trai’s method was to take few troops to fight those with many troops; Use a righteous reason to fight against the violent. He believes it is essential to use community power to hit the enemy’s weaknesses to correctly solve the most critical task. Promoting community power based on reconciliation is notable in Nguyen Trai’s thinking. First of all, he appreciated the essential role of the official team, addressing its relationships. He requests that the king and officials reduce tax, fix corruption, laziness g end the middle class in order topromote the people, peace and productivity. He wished that the King would amend the book, create favorable conditions for people to do business and live peacefully in a trustful manner. He sees it as essential to keeping society peaceful and prosperous. The above comments show Nguyen Trai’s: The person in his mind is cultural. Therefore, the exploitation of human resources is materially, culturally, and spiritually. He promotes spiritual and cultural values such as national independence, traditional customs, harmonious love, respect for the common good. Promoting national strength is a great value in his thinking. This idea has excellent value for the historical reality of Vietnam. He contributes to the education of patriotism, the spirit of fighting for independence and freedom. However, due to the limitations of class history, Nguyen Trai’s thoughts also contain some unreasonable, ideological, and metaphysical points about society: Not yet aware of the regulation of feudal class interests to form the views, ethics, and lifestyles of the dominant class. Therefore, rich humanitarian and progressive values, his thoughts are not applied by this type of domination; on the contrary, he was also shackled, isolated, and harmed by the opposing forces of the court.

Second, the community is more concerned about the inseparable relationship between the state and society with the community. The community emphasizes that the state and society are forms of community existence and see the community as a dedication to the state and society, creating a concentration of power and recognition of society with the subject of power; this allows the government to have firm and regulated interventions for the common good. Many people tend to pursue material interests and forget about the good values of their grandfathers and the moral standards of compassion and empathy, etc. This lifestyle will help build a better society without exploitation, and therefore people will become happier. We live together, so there must be equality, sharing, empathy, mutual benefit, and respect for our society to be more developed and civilized. An individual’s life is inseparable from the life of the community. For the community to develop further, each individual needs to join hands to build a community, becoming a source of strength to fulfill their mission in all areas of social life. Therefore, Vietnamese people today also need to develop a lifestyle for the benefit of the community. Thereby, the community’s solidarity promotes its role and strengths in the day; Simultaneously, this lifestyle also has great significance in community development and economic growth, helping the community towards the values of truth, goodness, and beauty. That lifestyle has helped the community develop and integrate more and more, thereby contributing to the country’s overall development.

Third, the rights and responsibilities of the individual to the community are constantly enhanced. For the community, the rights of individuals do not separate the common good of society. The commitment and obligations of that individual to the community and society. Depending on the degree of balance between rights and obligations that apply to organizations with different characteristics. The district emphasizes the relationship between the individual and the community and society as a unified community, very community-friendly. This trait shows that the community exists because of the close connection between members with shared values, promoted interests, and fundamental roles. In the current context of international integration, Nguyen Trai’s benevolence and righteousness become increasingly important when the foreign and pragmatic lifestyles risk ideological and moral degradation, separation from tradition, loss of national identity, deviations in the socialist way. There needs to be a responsible lifestyle, self-discipline, care, and empathy for everyone. In particular, there needs to be tolerance for the faults of others. There must be a sense of responsibility in building and protecting the Fatherland. Benevolence and righteousness practice is a way to train the personality and culture of each Vietnamese in the cause of building and defending the Fatherland. It also contributes to preserving the good traditional values of the nation and helping our homeland become more prosperous and more beautiful, lenient.

Fourth, Nguyen Trai’s thought of benevolence and righteousness is the fusion of three philosophical ideas of Confucianism, Buddhism, and Daoism in Vietnam’s cultural and social life. Nguyen Trai’s thought of benevolence and righteousness is also the absorption, combination, harmony, and integration of the quintessential and core elements with the will of national independence, patriotism, and solidarity. Community cohesion, kindness, tolerance. Nguyen Trai’s thought of benevolence and righteousness has become the nation’s internal culture in the struggle for national liberation and preservation of national independence. Thereby, Nguyen Trai’s benevolence and righteousness thought has left valuable and practical historical lessons in preserving, preserving, and promoting traditional cultural values of the nation in the process of exchange and cooperation in international integration today.

Confucian tolerance and Nguyen Trai’s thoughts have greatly influenced the spirit of tolerance of many Vietnamese Confucianists in history. Ho Chi Minh’s thought is to crystallize national culture with a culture of human tolerance. He absorbed the traditional idea of tolerance and added new revolutionary elements to form a deeply human perspective. Due to the framework of the article, we will cover Ho Chi Minh’s tolerant thought as a more specific and specific topic. In the current trend of integration and development of our country, we have received many universal values of ethics, law, democracy, benevolence, and righteousness. We have accepted that. The importance of the nation is also increasingly contributing to enriching human culture. The most fundamental problem is a fuller awareness of tolerance so that people live in harmony, not killing each other. The ultimate goal is to live peacefully and develop sustainably in the ordinary home of the world. Tolerance also has profound, humane implications in the context of the country’s need for reconciliation. The Vietnamese people and Lac Hong’s blood love each other more, contributing to building an increasingly wealthy, democratic, and civilized Vietnam. Therefore, the study of Nguyen Trai’s charitable and righteous thoughts is essential in preserving and promoting the traditional cultural values of the Vietnamese people.

In the current context of globalization, benevolence and righteousness values are high and beautiful values to build a strong Vietnam. Especially in the Covid-19 pandemic, both the general type and the Vietnamese people, in particular, are facing unrecognizable enemies. In the nation’s history, the obstacles are similar to the challenges of the Vietnamese revolution more than 400 years ago (against the Ming Dynasty in the 15th century); The Covid-19 pandemic is a devastating war with many differences. Along with benevolence and righteousness, Vietnam and other countries worldwide face an almost unstoppable, uncertain, and unpredictable enemy. An enemy that brings the whole world to a standstill, affecting most countries and territories, and even the most powerful ones must shake. Evil governments around the world are confused about the scale of economic development or its people’s health. International relations are also affected in many respects as countries have to take care of their economies first, and competition in large countries has more complex manifestations. Therefore, the study of Nguyen Trai’s human values is the theoretical basis for the Vietnamese people to further promote in the current circumstances.

First, the people’s benevolence and righteousness were the roots of social stability and development. In the current global unrest, Nguyen Trai’s benevolence and righteousness make up the traditional cultural values of the Vietnamese people. Today, benevolence and righteousness are values for Vietnamese people to fight the Covid pandemic together. Vietnam has low average economic strength, high population density, and large cities. Therefore, it is necessary to have benevolence and righteousness of the people and the state to unite one heart in the face of passionate patriotism.

Secondly, benevolence and righteousness mean to show the spirit of the great national unity. According to Vietnam (2021, p. 112), “The whole Vietnamese people unite and work together to build the country, realize the aspiration to develop a prosperous and happy country. Vietnam strives to become a developed, socialist-oriented country” by the middle of the 21st century.

Now, the state has a policy to protect everyone’s health from the Covid 19 pandemic. With the nature of people’s solidarity, Vietnam has formed national strength in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.

Third, benevolence and righteousness arouse the trust and strength of the whole nation to stabilize and develop the country. The power of the national unity bloc is always one of the most critical and powerful resources for Vietnam to overcome all difficulties and challenges and successfully implement the cause of national renewal and development. According to Vietnam 2021, rich people’s goals are: a strong country, democracy, justice, and civilization. However, due to modern globalization, Vietnam is more determined and strives more to promote trust, community responsibility and consensus among the people.

The findings of this study use a reference for learners and researchers in philosophy and cultural studies and state managers to better understand Nguyen Trai’s personality and thoughts. At the same time, they are supplementing the theoretical basis to build the current Vietnamese cultural values.

Benevolence and righteousness are at the core of a great idea in Nguyen Trai’s ideological system. Therefore, more than ever, Nguyen Trai’s benevolence and righteousness should continue and become the Vietnamese people’s unified cultural boat. Today, helping Vietnam develop is also a significant value. In the current Covid-19 pandemic, the value of benevolence and righteousness needs to be raisins to affirm the great unity of our nation. Benevolence and righteousness are part of everyone’s spirit because those who fight and serve promote cadres and leaders. These heroes can overcome the challenges and difficulties ahead. The fight against Covid-19 is still tough with the emergence of many new variants, with a high spreading rate. That requires stability and consistency of the state in a leadership role. At the same time, each citizen must be proactive for the nation and community, unite tand love each other against the epidemic to prevent the spread. Benevolence and righteousness must be accompanied by faith and will to overcome the Covid-19 pandemic.




Resumo: Nguyen Trai foi um grande filósofo patriótico vietnamita, uma das maiores personalidades de todos os tempos. Ele viveu no século XV; seus pensamentos se tornaram um grande exemplo de ética, cultura, alma e sabedoria vietnamitas. O artigo estudou os pensamentos filosóficos de Nguyen Trai, para ajudar a desenvolver um país próspero e feliz, usando os valores culturais tradicionais da nação. O texto utiliza a metodologia do materialismo dialético como princípio geral e como princípio histórico específico, a fim de avaliar a benevolência e a retidão de Nguyen Trai, em termos de compaixão, justiça e gestão, associadas aos interesses do povo, da comunidade e da sociedade. O artigo também usa métodos analíticos e de síntese, para destacar o conteúdo de benevolência e retidão, na tradição cultural da nação vietnamita hoje. A pandemia de Covid-19 afetou o mundo, em geral, e o Vietnã, em particular. Portanto, a cultura de pensamento de Nguyen Trai é poderosa e eficaz na resposta à pandemia de Covid-19, no Vietnã e em outros países, na atualidade. Neste estudo, a benevolência e a justiça de Nguyen Trai definem claramente a responsabilidade do Estado e a obrigação dos cidadãos de promover os valores culturais tradicionais da nação.

Palavras-chave: Benevolência e retidão. Cultural. Nguyen Trai. Vietnamita.



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Received: 11/7/2021

Accept: 06/12/2021

[1] Acknowledgment: This research is partly funded by University of Economics Ho Chi Minh City and Ho Chi Minh City University of Technology and Education, Vietnam.

[2] University of Economics Ho Chi Minh City, Ho Chi Minh City – Vietnam; ORCID:, E-mail:

[3] Faculty of High Quality Training, Ho Chi Minh City University of Technology and Education, Ho Chi Minh City – Vietnam. ORCID:, E-mail: