By “key concepts in Chinese thought and culture” we mean concepts and keywords or phrases the Chinese people have created or come to use that are fundamentally pertinent to Chinese philosophy, humanistic spirit, way of thinking, and values.
The term has two different meanings. One is an individual’s fine moral character, or his proper conduct in society. At first de (德) was only related to an individual’s behavior, referring to his external moral conduct. Later, it also referred to something that combined external behavior with internal emotions and moral consciousness. The other meaning of de refers to the special laws and features obtained from Dao, or the physical manifestation of the hidden and formless Dao, as well as the internal basis for the origination and existence of all things.
Heaven gives birth to people, provides them with goods and materials, and subjects them to rules. People obey universal rules and value virtues. (The Book of Songs)
Dao creates all things under heaven while de nurtures them. (Laozi)