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Confucianism Overview

7 Pages
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Department
Religion
Course Code
RLG100Y1
Professor
Andre Maintenay

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CONFUCIANISM
ORIGINS
Confucius and his school offered an ethical answer to questions regarding lifes meaning and order in society.
Highest position he commanded was of a police comissioner and he quit in response to the corruption in the
civil service and then spent his time going from village to village recruiting younge men as potential civil
servants.
His principles eventually became the basis of Chinas formal civil service system.
Most important of the principles is the rectification of names: expressed in 8 cryptic words: ruler ruler,
minister, minister, father, father, son, son which means that names should represent realities and the person
appointed to a position should live up to his title. people should be recruited on the basis of merit not
money, irrespective of social class. Select from the brightest and most ethical. Meant appointing people on
the basis of training and talent rather than connections.
Aristocracy of merit rather than aristocracy of money. This was not accepted at the time because many
families bribed people to get their sons jobs but eventually was accepted.
Kong (Confucius) did not record write down his teaching. After his death his followers recalled their sessions
with him and whatever they knew about his encounters and collected them in a book called the Analects of
Confucius, which reveal a great teacher who used a question and answer approach.
The analects show the human side of Confucius. He did not develop any systematic doctrinal structure with
separate categories for morals, ethics, rituals, law etc. his teaching were systemized after his death by his
follower Mencius and Xuni.
Kong saw Tian as representing a personal god and a higher power, order and law that displaced many
ancestral gods. Saw that people, especially rulers should obey Heaven.
Laid the groundwork for a social revolution. Not a Marxist type of reveloution, but radical at the same.
Because of his preference of education and philosophy became accepted across China, that started respecting
scholars above all.
CRYSALLIZATION
The Confucian Virtues
Ultimate in the relative: in the moral character of human relationships.
Kong taught doctrine of reciprocity and neighbourliness. Never do to others what you would not like them to
do to you- became known as the negative Golden Rule of Silver Rule.
Confucianism speaks of 5 relationships, each of them comes with a particular set of norms and duties:
relationships of: ruler and minister, father and son, husband and wife, elder and younger brother and friend
and friend. 3 are family while other 2 are understood in terms of relations within a family. Therefore
confucian society regards itself as an extended family.
Responsibilities implied by relationship are reciprocal and must show filial respect. But each of the 5
relationships are also hierarchical.
Concept of filial piety especially important in Chinese culture since its connected to what is known as the
ancestor cult. Filial duty of each new generation to have progeny in order to continue performing rituals for
the ancestors so that they might be fed and happy in the afterlife. Also promoted a strong culture of mutual
help.
Central teaching of confucius is the virtue of ren. In the past ren had been a virtur expected of gentlemen,
similar to the concept of noblesse oblige the idea of nobility came with obligations and it was the duty of
the superior person to treat his inferiors with generosity and consideration. Confucius transformed ren into
a universal virtur, a quality that can kake the human being into a sage. It drewe a social implication: moral
merit, not noble birth, should be the criterion for status as a gentleman.,
www.notesolution.com
Ren is associated with loyalty (zhong) to ones heart and conscience and with reciprocity (shu) respect and
consideration for others. Also related to li- ritual propriety.
Family relationships provide a model behaviour in the wider societ. This reflect the strong solidarity in the
Chinese family and family like solidarity in Confucian communities.
Confucian Classics
Primary texts of Confucianism known as the 5 classics. Suggest a clear sense of authority and past tradition
and have diverse contents.
I. Book of Changes: divinition manual attributed to sages of old. Short oracles arranged under 64
hexagrams- symbols made up of combinations of broken and unbroken lines that reflect early
cosmological and metaphysical speculations.
II. Book of History: collection of speeches by royalty and chied ministers. Narratives of achievements
and principles of government.
III. Book of Poetry or Odes: collection of 305 versus in various genres.
IV.The Classics of Rites: entire corpus. Includes Ceremonials ( manual for nobility, detailing
etiquette for everything), Book of Rites (treatises on education, rituals, music, governemtn
regulations etc) and the Institute of Zhou( idealized description of government offices in Zhou
times).
V.Spring-Autumn Annals: chronicle of the state of Lu, purporting to explain the decline of the
ancient political and moral order.
Most books burned by Qin who surrounded himself with officials of the Legalish school. The books came back
under Han rulers. In 125 BCE the 5 classics were made the basis of exammanations in the imperial college.
Three other books considered important: Classic of Fillal piety (dialogue between Confucius and a disciple)
Analects of Confucius and Book of Mencius which represents teachines of second Confucian sage.
Mencius and Xunzi
School founded by Confucius developed by his followers, most notable Mencius and Xunzi. Though differed,
had enough in common to build the tradition.
Mencius and Xunzi on Human Nature:
Philological scholars associated etymology with early religious worship: Human being receives from heaven
the gift of life and all the innate endowments of human nature, especially the shared faculty of moral
discernment.
Mencius: sense of right and wrong common to all is what distinguished humans from animals. All are equal
because share a common moral capacity.
Confucian tradition criticized for not explaining the role of evil in human existence. But in fact iit does.
Mencius: evil consequence of interaction between originally good nature and wicked environment.
Xunzi: inherent in human nature.
Both agree human nature perfectable. M: everyone has potential to become a sage. X: can be educated to
seek goodness.
In Han dynasty, Mencius more influential.
Confucian education sought to instill a strong sense of moral responsibility, inseparable from the conscience
of guilt.
M: perfectibility of human nature rooted in union of heart and mind, a concept expressed in Chinese by the
word xin. Heart and mind come to us from heaven and leads us back there.
Mencius and Xunzi on Heaven and Ritual
Confucius may or may not have regarded Tian as representing a personal deity.
M suggests that heaven is immanent, present within the human heart: to know ones own heart and nature is
to know heaven.
www.notesolution.com

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Description
CONFUCIANISM ORIGINS Confucius and his school offered an ethical answer to questions regarding lifes meaning and order in society. Highest position he commanded was of a police comissioner and he quit in response to the corruption in the civil service and then spent his time going from village to village recruiting younge men as potential civil servants. His principles eventually became the basis of Chinas formal civil service system. Most important of the principles is the rectification of names: expressed in 8 cryptic words: ruler ruler, minister, minister, father, father, son, son which means that names should represent realities and the person appointed to a position should live up to his title. people should be recruited on the basis of merit not money, irrespective of social class. Select from the brightest and most ethical. Meant appointing people on the basis of training and talent rather than connections. Aristocracy of merit rather than aristocracy of money. This was not accepted at the time because many families bribed people to get their sons jobs but eventually was accepted. Kong (Confucius) did not record write down his teaching. After his death his followers recalled their sessions with him and whatever they knew about his encounters and collected them in a book called the Analects of Confucius, which reveal a great teacher who used a question and answer approach. The analects show the human side of Confucius. He did not develop any systematic doctrinal structure with separate categories for morals, ethics, rituals, law etc. his teaching were systemized after his death by his follower Mencius and Xuni. Kong saw Tian as representing a personal god and a higher power, order and law that displaced many ancestral gods. Saw that people, especially rulers should obey Heaven. Laid the groundwork for a social revolution. Not a Marxist type of reveloution, but radical at the same. Because of his preference of education and philosophy became accepted across China, that started respecting scholars above all. CRYSALLIZATION The Confucian Virtues Ultimate in the relative: in the moral character of human relationships. Kong taught doctrine of reciprocity and neighbourliness. Never do to others what you would not like them to do to you- became known as the negative Golden Rule of Silver Rule. Confucianism speaks of 5 relationships, each of them comes with a particular set of norms and duties: relationships of: ruler and minister, father and son, husband and wife, elder and younger brother and friend and friend. 3 are family while other 2 are understood in terms of relations within a family. Therefore confucian society regards itself as an extended family. Responsibilities implied by relationship are reciprocal and must show filial respect. But each of the 5 relationships are also hierarchical. Concept of filial piety especially important in Chinese culture since its connected to what is known as the ancestor cult. Filial duty of each new generation to have progeny in order to continue performing rituals for the ancestors so that they might be fed and happy in the afterlife. Also promoted a strong culture of mutual help. Central teaching of confucius is the virtue of ren. In the past ren had been a virtur expected of gentlemen, similar to the concept of noblesse oblige the idea of nobility came with obligations and it was the duty of the superior person to treat his inferiors with generosity and consideration. Confucius transformed ren into a universal virtur, a quality that can kake the human being into a sage. It drewe a social implication: moral merit, not noble birth, should be the criterion for status as a gentleman., www.notesolution.com
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