Confucianism 2 Essay, Research Paper
Confucianism is based upon the thoughts of Confucius, whom lived during the Zhou Dynasty, which lasted from 1027 to 221 B.C. Confucius was born around 551 B.C. in Tsou, a small town in the state of Lu, in what is today Shantung Province. His father died when he was three, and grew up in poverty with his mother, as he worked several jobs to help support the family. By the time Confucius had reached the age of fifteen, he was set on devoting his time and energy to the pursuit of learning. He did just that, later becoming the most influential and respected philosopher in the history of China.
Confucianism was the single most important thing in Chinese life in the dynasties to follow. It affected education, government, and attitudes toward behavior in the private and public sector of life in China. Confucianism is more of a philosophy and guide to morality than it is a religion. When Confucius was born, China was in a constant state of war, and rapid political change altered the structure of Chinese society greatly, in such a way that the people no longer respected the established behavioral guidelines. Confucius stated that the ideal person was one that would conform to good moral character, which led to his teachings of the five constant relationships.
The relationships were Father and Son, Older Brother and Younger Brother, Husband and Wife, Friend and Friend, and possibly a sixth relationship between Ruler and Subject. In each of the relationships, the superior member (either by age or gender) had the duty of benevolence and care for the subordinate member. The inferior members role in the relationships was obedience, to do what was right no matter what, even if it meant going against the government. Since the highest obedience was to do what was right, true obedience to the superior member was to refuse to obey any orders to do what is not right. Some superior members were not benevolent to inferiors, which did not make them superiors in Confucian thought. The five constant relationships are the basis of what Confucius was trying to teach, harmony. Harmony deals with how to get along in society, which is also referred to as Li, the imperatives of conduct.
Confucius tried to teach the imperatives of conduct as a whole, trying to create the right frame of mind for every situation. In reference to the reasons of behavior; he observed them, gathered them, formulated and arranged them. He foresaw the whole world conforming to Chinese customs, which included the right way of walking, greeting, behaving in public, keeping in mind that each went with a particular situation. The rites of marriage, birth, death, and even burial; the rules of administration; the customs governing work, war, the family, the priesthood, the court, and the stages of life. The basis of the Li is proper knowledge through education.
The influence Confucianism had on China took nearly 2000 years to grow to its peak. A few centuries after Confucius, two men developed an effective scholastic tradition and set the standards for the principles of Confucianism, which led to more precise, systematic views of Confucianism. These two men were Mencius and Hsun Tzu, which through their development of Confucian thinking made a great impact on cultural movement. Throughout the following dynasties, Confucianism had its ups and downs with rival philosophies of Buddhism and Taoism. Over the years, Confucianism taught the Chinese to cultivate the self, regulate the family, rule the state and bring peace to all under heaven, and treated politics and moral teachings as one.