What Confucius Would Not Talk About
6 - What Confucius Would Not Talk About introduction. The dominant Confucian ideology was rationalistic, and imperial bureaucracies sought to control and frequently to stifle religious activities they labeled `unorthodox,` but highly educated elite writers wrote extensively about ghosts and supernatural creatures. By focusing on a small number of examples, discuss why writers expressed such persistent interest in `what Confucius would not talk about,` such as the strange, the anomalous, death, and the afterlife(Lunyu)
What Confucius Would Not Talk About
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The influence of Confucian texts is undeniable and encompassing, not only in China, but the rest of the world as well. Along with its strengths, it also has its weaknesses and may be better as an application to today’s social construct rather than a prescription to society as it was in its inception. The ideology is centered on meritocracy and governance and believes that social motivations for acceptable behaviors are better than laws.
Confucian ideologies have also been criticized for being supportive of corruption and uncontrollable bureaucracy. At the same time, the ideologies have been used significantly to censor and to control the public knowledge of grievances. Though Confucius’ works and subsequent Confucian works are exhaustive about every aspect of society, it clearly avoids issues that are intrinsically ambiguous (“Chinese Literature”).
Not Talked About
By virtue of Confucian philosophies, the government controlled the proliferation of materials that they believed were unorthodox to the state that supported Confucianism. One of the motivations is to establish the ideology so that growing bureaucracy thrives. Also, it was a political effort to control media; a medium that can often become a channel for satires regarding social ills. Sociologically, Confucianism was being established as the fundamental guideline for society and the presence of texts that may allude to other ideologies and beliefs that may hamper its integration.
For example, Sima Rangju’s,Methods of the Minister of War, was a literary contemporary of Confucian texts and overlaps some of its prescriptions of action with those of Confucianism (“Classical Chinese Literature”). The resulting ambiguity is seen as a deterrent for the establishment of order. The course of action is to censor or limit the publication of the text. This strategy is similar to the efforts of early Christians to compose the books of the Bible. By limiting the different versions or accounts and only choosing the ones that fulfill the objective, unity and assimilation of the resulting is expected to be better (“Chinese Literature”).
Though there were restrictions, many texts and authors still prevailed because either the author was renowned, established, influential, or simply popular. Among the ones to have faired better were traditional texts that celebrated heritage and other cultural elements. Though the books may be imbibed with unorthodox concepts or treatises, they were made mainstream by their historical and cultural contents (Trimmer 44).
Among the mythical and unorthodox books that prevailed were Shan Hai Jing, a book of mythical tales from all over China, Siku Quanshu, a literary compilation and Duan Chengshi’s Miscellaneous Morsels from Youyang, which is a compilation of anecdotes, fantastic stories and exotic customs. By sheer virtue of their historical and cultural value, they circulated around China and even became part of educational programs (“Chinese classic texts”). At the same time, however, some texts stood ground because of their political base. Even competing ideologies like Taoism, Buddhism, Legalism and Mohism texts survived because of the subscription to them by influential people (“Chinese Literature”).
The survival of the opposition to the regulations stemmed both from reasons related and unrelated to Confucianism (Trimmer, 29). Independently, all the unorthodox texts mentioned have significant value. Confucianism, though, could not meet the social, political and cultural demands of an omniscient principle; if that is possible at all. Therefore, it was natural for other ideologies and other forms of literature to explain the world and its complexities prevail.
“Chinese classic texts”. Wikipedia Free Encyclopedia. 2006. 17 December 2006. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_classic_texts>.
“Chinese literature”. Wikipedia Free Encyclopedia. 2006. 17 December 2006. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_literature>.
“Classical Chinese Literature”. 2006. 17 December 2006. <http://zhongwen.com/gudian.htm>
Trimmer, Joseph, Ed.; Warnock, Tilly, Ed. Understanding Others: Cultural and Cross-Cultural Studies and the Teaching of Literature. Urbana, IL: National Council of Teachers of English, 1992