Public and Private
These refer to two different spheres of life and sets of principles for doing things. As far as the spheres of life is concerned, being “private” refers to the life of an individual or group of individuals. Whereas being “public” refers to the public realm beyond these narrow concerns. There are different principles which govern the different spheres of life, and conflict may arise between the two. When it comes to the principles for doing things, it is in the nature of being “private” to pursue the interest of specific individuals or a particular group of individuals, while being “public” means going beyond the selfish or egoistic for the interest of the wider public.
With clear distinction between public and private spheres, a narrow-minded man does not envy one of virtue, and a mean person has no reason to be jealous of a man of great achievement. Thus Yao and Shun as emperors did not take advantage of their positions to seek personal gain but chose to govern for the benefit of the public. Selecting a man of virtue as successor to the throne did not indicate particular estrangement of father from son, in favor of a person of no blood relations, but instead showed wisdom regarding the ways of good governance. (The Book of Lord Shang)
What a person seeks for his own epitomizes selfish desire; what rite requires represents the justice of heavenly principles. (Zhu Xi: Questions and Answers on The Analects)