Confucianism Essay, Research Paper
What is Confucianism? Confucianism was the single most important thing in Chinese life. It affected everything in China; education, government, and attitudes toward behavior in public and private life. Confucianism is not a religion, but it is more a philosophy and a guide to morality and good government. The Laozian and Mohist critiques of the Confucianism are both in an accurate fashion.
Most significant value from Lazi is The Tao Te Jing. “It is true that, while Confucianism emphasizes social order and an active life, Taoism concentrates on individual life and tranquility, thus suggesting that Taoism plays a secondary role” (pp. 136 SB) In the writings of The Tao Te Jing, Lazi answers how is Confucianism should be, and that is tao. Tao is described as having existed before heaven and earth. Tao is formless, stands alone without change and reaches everywhere without harm. The student of Laozi is told to use the light that is inside to revert to the natural clearness of sight. By divesting oneself of all external distractions and desires, only then can one achieve tao. In ancient days a Taoist that had transcended birth and death, achieved tao, was said to have cut the Thread of Life (pp. 139 SB). The soul, or spirit, is Taoism does not die at death. The soul is not reborn; it migrates to another life. This process, the Taoist version of reincarnation, is repeated until tao is achieved. The following translation from The Tao Te Jing best summarizes the theory behind tao and how a Taoist can achieve Tao. Tao is the ultimate reality, a presence that existed before the universe was formed and which continues to guide the world and everything in it. Tao is sometimes identified as the Mother, or the source of all things. That source is not a god or a supreme being, as Taoism is not monotheistic. The focus is not to worship one god, but instead on coming into harmony with tao (pp. 169 SB) Tao is the essence of everything that is right, and complications exist only because people choose to complicate their own lives. Desire, ambition, fame, and selfishness are seen as hindrances to a harmonious life. It is only when a person rids himself of all desires can tao being achieved. By shunning every earthly distraction, the Taoist is able to concentrate on life itself. The longer the person’s life, the more saintly the person is presumed to have become. Eventually the hope is to become immortal, to achieve tao, to have reached the deeper life. This is the after life for a Taoist, to be in harmony with the universe, to have achieved tao (pp. 173 SB).
In ancient China, up to the beginning of the Han dynasty, the greatest schools were not only Confucianism, but also Mohism. The whole Confucian ethical system is based on the concept of humanity, whereas Mozi based his on the concept of righteousness. “To the Confucianist, heaven does not directly exert its will but leaves the moral law to operate by itself. To Mo Tzu, however, the will of heaven determines all. Mo Tzu strongly condemns ceremonies, music, elaborate funerals, and the belief in fate (Ming, destiny), all of which were promoted by Confucius and his followers. For Confucius, moral life is desirable for its own sake, whereas for Mo Tzu it desirables because of the Benefits it brings. (PP. 221 SB) Mozi does emphasize righteousness, but to him righteousness is to be understood in terms of beneficial results. Mo Tzu said: “ this is simply because gentlemen of the world fail to recognize its benefit and understand its reason.” It shows the motive of benefits is behind all moist doctrines.
The most important teacher that influences Chinese educational system a lot is Confucius. At the time Confucius was born, China was in a constant state of war, and rapid political change altered the structure of Chinese society so much that people no longer respected the established behavioral guidelines. Confucius stated that the ideal person was one of good moral character. The ideal person was also truly reverent in worship and sincerely respected his father and his ruler. He was expected to think for himself, guided by definite rules of conduct. As Confucius said, he was expected to take “as much trouble to discover what was right as lesser men take to discover what will pay”. Confucius believed that this type of behavior by rulers had a greater effect on the people than did laws or codes of punishment. So when these types of people were rulers, their moral example would inspire the people to lead good lives. Confucius died sometime around 479 B.C., and his philosophy was not very well known. If it weren’t for his disciples his ideas would probably still be unknown. Confucius never wrote anything down himself; his disciples wrote all of his sayings down in a collection of books called the Analects. These contain all that modern day man knows about Confucius.
Confucius idea of Confucianism about government is like similar to his idea about Ren. He believes government should be based upon virtue, and should operate for the benefit of the people just as parents naturally care for their children. Good government is not the government, which makes the nation powerful, wealthy and superman in arms, holding other people in subjugation. Nor is it the government. Which is efficient, feared and obeyed by the people. On the contrary, the best government is one that loves the people and is loved by the people, and whose politics re based upon benevolence and righteousness. The first requirement of benevolent government is the rule of virtue. “As a teacher of political morality, Confucius emphasized the point that government was subject to the same ethical rules that apply to individuals.” (12:1) He did not separate ethics from politics, nor did he advocate the theory that the end justifies the means. “Confucius declared that the rule of virtue was the safest ways of achieving the good social life, saying” the people need virtue more than either fire or water. “I have seen men die for treading on water and fire, but I have never seen a man die from pursuing the course of virtue.” (16:8) Furthermore the rule of virtue is the easiest means of achieving the proper end of the state, because virtue is closest to man. Rule by virtue is most natural; it is the most universal, for human nature is the same in all peoples, although they may possess different traditions, cultures, and temperament. “It is also the most fundamental, since it rectifies or governs not only external action, but also the mind and the feelings which control al motives and actions.” (16:4)
The second requirement of the benevolent government is love of the people. “ In conducting the government of a great nation, Confucius says,” there must be reverent attention to business and the cultivation of honest rule; economy in expenditure and love for men; and taxing the people at proper seasons.” In this statement love of the people is emphasized. Thus love of the people is the highest ideal of government. Confucius gives two rules as to how this love should be carried out, a negative rules and positive rule. The negative rule is: “whosoever things you do not wish that others should do unto you, do not do unto them.” The positive rule “A virtuous ruler wishing to be established himself, seeks also to establish others; and wishing to enlighten himself, seeks also to enlighten others.” To establish mean is to rectify; and to enlighten means to possess a rich, spiritual and material life. “ The ideal of love in government is by far more fundamental than such modern political ideals as liberty, equality, fraternity, and democracy. When these rules are practiced, there will be no class conflict in the nation, no exploitation, no inequality, no autocracy, no social injustice.” Confucius also believed in moral rule. All moral rules have implicit in the some principle or principles. A rule can thus always be judged by it success in realizing these principles. In other words, moral rules have built-in standards by which they can be judged. If they are found wanting, this point is the way of their improvement.