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Lecture 8

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University of Toronto St. George
Political Science
Rebecca Kingston

POL 200 Lecture 8 Confucius and the cultivation of the self I. Introduction: the field of comparative political theory • Political theory: Looks at similarities and differences of thinkers • Allows us to make distinctions between good and bad ways of life, he provides with some basis to making relatively solid value- judgements. He does this without the ‘metaphysical’ baggage that most western philosopher have. • Confucius comes to us with some essence of the good and bad II. Confucius the historical figure • Rough sense of period when he lived: 551- 479BC (Plato was 428 – 348 BC) • Axial age: age when many great thinkers seemed to independently developed significant ideas that still affect the world today • Grew up in a time of political instability: Zhu Dynasty was losing control over its regions; certain regions were claiming to be independent (civil war). • At 54, resigned from position of Minister of Crime, he then traveled for 14 years before returning to his home state, where he then assumed the role as a teacher. III. Confucian self-cultivation -means of self-cultivation: action, performance and reflection -goal of self-cultivation: the model of the ‘gentleman’ or person of quality (chun- tzu) • Plato: Cultivation of the intellect (like he philosopher, the knower and lover of truth) • Aristotle: of the character • Confusion ideal is the cultivation of the self in context  Section 2.4, like the plutonic philosopher, its a lifetime training to develop the right disposition: the focus is on engagement with the people around you and gaining a deeper understanding of things (rather then on mathematics or science etc...)  The idea of modeling yourself on another (4.7, when you meet someone better, try to become their equal, 7.22) • Goodness of character is demonstrated in action and subsequently in speech • Trustworthiness is a repetitive them
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