Confucius was born about 551 BC. With the family name Gung. The respect he gained for his teachings led to his being referred to as Grand Master Gung Gung If-tug. The Western version of his name comes from this. He said that at fifteen he bent his mind to learning, and he continued to express a deep admiration for learning throughout his life. Confucius married at 19, his son being born a year later. Subsequently he had two daughters, one of whom died when she was quite young.
In his twenty-second year, Confucius started his career as a public teacher, ND his house became a gathering place for young people who wished to learn from the lessons of the past. He was concerned with opening up education to all, with an emphasis on character building rather than vocational training. In his fifties he became a magistrate and a minister of justice. At 56 he sought to spread his doctrines by traveling extensively with some of his students.
After 13 years he returned somewhat disappointed to his own state, where he is believed to have written down his philosophy and compiled the Chinese Classics.
He died in 479 BC. Confucius lived in times when there was constant warfare between gibbering states and local warlords had little concern for the high moral principles enunciated by an itinerant teacher. While his goal was to bring peace and order to states his words had little effect during his lifetime. His ideas subsequently became the foundation for most of the concern for humanity found in subsequent Chinese philosophy. Unfortunately, his name has often been used as a cloak for despotic rule, by a false analogy between a dictator and the head of a family.
Confucian ism Confucianism is the complex system of moral, social, political, and religious caching built up by Confucius and the ancient Chinese traditions. Confucianism goal is making not only the man virtuous, but also making him the man of learning and of good manners. The perfect man must combine the qualities Of a saint, scholar, and gentleman. Confucianism is a religion whose worship is centered in offerings to the dead. The notion of duty is extended beyond the boundaries of morals and embraces the details of daily life.
As a foundation for the life of perfect goodness, Confucius insisted mainly on the four virtues of sincerity, benevolence, filial piety, and propriety. SINCERITY was a cardinal virtue. It meant more than a mere social relation. Sincerity also meant to be truthful and straightforward in speech, faithful to one’s promises and to be conscientious in the discharge of one’s duties to others. The sincere man in Confucius eyes was the man whose conduct was based on the love of virtue, and who sought to observe the rules of right conduct in his heart as well as in outward actions.
Showing a kindly regard for the welfare of others and in a readiness to help them in times of need (BENEVOLENCE), was also a fundamental element in Confucius teaching. These things were viewed as the traits of the good man. In the sayings of Confucius, he states many things that can be compared to the Golden Rule. For example, when a disciple asked him for a guiding principle for all conduct, Confucius answered: “Is not mutual goodwill such a principle? What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others”. This is almost exactly like the form of the Golden Rule found in Christianity.
The third fundamental virtue in the Confucian system is FILIAL PIETY. In the “Hi-king”, Confucius is recorded as saying: “Filial piety is the root of all virtue. -?”Of all the actions of man there are none greater than those of filial piety. ” To the Chinese, filial piety prompts sons to love and respect their parents, contribute to their comfort and bring happiness and honor to their name by honorTABLE success in life. Filial piety included the obligation of sons to live after marriage under the same roof with the father and to give him obedience as long as he lived.
The will of the parents was declared to be supreme even to the extent that if the son’s wife failed to please them he was obliged to divorce her. If a dutiful son found himself compelled to scold a upward father he was taught to give the correction with the utmost meekness. The father does not forfeit his right to filial respect, no matter how great his wickedness. Another virtue of primary importance in the Confucian system is “PROPRIETY”. It embraces the whole aspect of human conduct teaching men to do the right thing. In the rules, ceremony, customs and usages are listed by which Chinese etiquette is regulated.
They were distinguished even in Confucius day by the three hundred greater, and the three thousand lesser rules Of ceremony, all Of which had to be carefully learned as a guide to right induct. The conventional usages as well as the rules of moral conduct brought with them the sense of obligation resting primarily on the authority of the sage-kings and on the will of Heaven. To neglect or deviate from them was equivalent to committing a sin. In Confucianism the pursuit of virtue is natural and fortunate. But in this pursuit of moral perfection Confucius sought to give others the enthusiastic love of virtue that he felt himself.
To make oneself as good as possible was the main business of life. Everything that was conducive to the practice of goodness was to be eagerly sought and made use of. Knowledge was held as an indispensTABLE treasure. The knowledge which he taught to be pursued was not purely scientific learning, but was the study of the sacred texts and the rules of virtue and propriety. Another factor which he stressed was the influence of good example. The heroes and sages of the past and sayings he sought to promote. He did this by insisting on the study of the ancient classics.
Many of his recorded sayings are eulogies of these men of virtue. Confucius taught his followers the importance of always welcoming the correction Of one’s faults. Also, the daily examination of conscience was enforced. To further aid to the formation of a virtuous character, he valued a certain amount of self- discipline. He recognized the danger, especially in the young, of falling into bad habits, so he insisted on eliminating the urge for unnecessary comforts. Confucianism has had a profound effect on the people of China as well as the people of other nations.
Confucian beliefs and values have served many as a guide to moral living. The teachings of Confucius have not only survived hundreds of years, but have thrived as a system of virtue as well. It serves its lowers as a foundation for the life of perfect goodness. Many of his concepts, such as: Rene, lie, hoist and the five relationships hold true even today. With all of this in mind, it can truly be said that Confucianism is a remarkTABLE religion. Although Confucius would insist that is more of a concept of virtue and good conduct in dealing with others rather than as a religion.
The Great Learning The path for learning greatness is to illuminate the goodness in man, to bring out what is best in people, and to achieve the highest excellence. Confucius summed up the importance of knowledge this way, “Those who re born with the possession of knowledge are the highest class of men. Those who learn and readily gain possession of knowledge are the next. Those who are dull and stupid, and yet manage to learn are another class next to these. As to those who are dull and stupid and yet do not learn-?they are the lowest of the people”.
THE ANALECTS Excerpt From A Dialogue With His Pupils “But”, he warned, “Learning without thought is labor lost; thought without learning is perilous. ” To You he said, “Lack of love of learning is at the heart of six sources of confusion. ‘There is the love of being benevolent without the love of earning-?the confusion here leads to a foolish simplicity. There is the love of knowing without the love of learning-?the confusion here leads to dissipation of mind. There is the love of being sincere without the love of learning-?the confusion here leads to an injurious disregard of consequences.
There is the love of straightforwardness without the love of learning-?the confusion here leads to rudeness. There is the love of boldness without the love of learning-?the confusion here leads to insubordination. There is the love of firmness without the love Of learning-?the confusion here leads to extravagant conduct. ” Chi Gang asked which of the disciples loved to learn. Confucius replied to him, “There was Taste-Yuan. He loved to learn. Unfortunately his appointed time was short, and he died. Now there is no one who loves to learn, as he did. When Taste-Yuan died, Confucius bewailed him exceedingly, and the disciples who were with him said, “Master, isn’t your grief excessive? “Is it excessive? ” he asked. “If I am not to mourn bitterly for this man, for whom should I mourn? ‘ The duke of She asked Taste-LU about Confucius, and Taste-LU did not answer him. Confucius asked, “Why did you not say to him-?He is simply a man, who in his eager pursuit of knowledge forgets his food, who in the joy of its attainment forgets his sorrows, and who does not perceive that old age is coming on? I walk along with two others, they may serve me as my teachers. Will select their good qualities and follow them, know their bad qualities and avoid them. ” ‘When we see men of worth, we should think of equaling them; when we see men of a contrary character, we should turn inwards and examine ourselves. ” He said, “There may be those who act without knowing why. I do not do so. Hearing much, selecting what is good and following it; seeing much and keeping it in memory-?this is the style of knowledge prefer. Tsar You being asleep during the day time, Confucius observed, “Rotten wood cannot be carved; a wall of dirty earth will not receive the trowel. This Yule what is the use of my reproving him? At first, my Way with men was to hear their words and give them credit for their conduct. Now my way is to hear their words and look at their conduct. It is from You that I have learned to make this change. ” “l do not open up the truth to one who is not eager to get knowledge, nor alp out any one who is not anxious to explain himself.
When I have presented one corner of a subject to any one, and he cannot from it learn the other three, I do not repeat my lesson. ” “When a man is not in the habit of saying, ‘What shall I think of this? What shall think Of this? ‘ I can indeed do nothing with him! ” Guide Questions 1 . What are the three most important goals of Confucianism? 2. Enumerate and explain the four virtues for a good life for Confucius? 3. How important is filial piety for the Chinese? 4. How did Confucius see the importance of education? 5. Explain briefly the following : a.
Learning without thought is labor lost; thought without learning is perilous. B. Rotten wood cannot be carved; a wall of dirty earth will not receive the trowel. 6. Why is the lack of love for learning result to confusion? Explain the confusions enumerated in the text. 7. Is Confucianism still relevant today? Prove your answer. Sources: Confucius: Confucian Analects, The Great Learning, and The Doctrine of the Mean. (1971 New York: Dover Publication Press; Clearance Press, Oxford, Heinz, Carolyn B. (1 997) Asia, A New Introduction. Waveland Press. Ken, Charles F. 1996).
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