Tuesday, April 21, 2015
Eastern Religions 1 of 3 - Joshua Tilton : Confucism
Confucius, also known as Kong Qui, was born August 27, 551 B.C. in Tuo, China. Very little is known of Confucius’s early childhood, aside from the fact that he had one. The only historical text we have detailing that time is Records of the Historian. Despite the books title, many modern historians consider the book to be more fiction than fact based. According to Records of the Historian, Confucius was born into a royal family of the Chou Dynasty. Some other historical accounts consider him to have been born into a poverty-stricken home. No matter the debate, all historians can agree that he lived during a time of ideological turmoil. During the sixth century B.C., there was an uprising against the surviving Chou dynasty, a lineage that went back nearly 500 years. Traditional Chinese principles began to deteriorate, resulting in a period of moral decline. Confucius recognized this to be a time where moral reinforcement was a necessity, and took it upon himself to bring about that change.
His social philosophy was focused around the principle of "ren" or "loving others" while exercising self-discipline in the matter. Confucius believed that ren could be best exemplified in what would become known as the Golden Rule: "What you do not wish for yourself, do not do to others." Confucius’ political beliefs reflected his moral philosophy, in that compassion must lead with self-discipline reigning over powerful emotions. He believed that a leader needed to exercise self-discipline in order to remain humble and treat his followers with compassion. In doing so, any leader who was compassionate towards his followers would lead by example and be a positive influence on the nation he ruled. According to Confucius, leaders could stabilize the philosophical undertones of their subject by teaching them good virtue, which would in turn reflect in how they went about their daily lives, and the unifying force of ritual propriety. His philosophy of education focused on the "Six Arts": archery, calligraphy, computation, music, chariot-driving and ritual.
To Confucius, the true goal of teaching was to teach people how to live and xo-exist with integrity, through which all walks of life would be affected. Through his teachings, he strove to resurrect the traditional values of benevolence, propriety and ritual in Chinese society.
The Confucian worldview is generally based on two questions: a person's understanding of heaven, and people's relationships with the heavenly realm. The human soul is the highest valued among the earthly realm’s properties -- even as great as heaven and earth are with one's own efforts and creation.
The emphasis of Confucianism is to explore the heavenly part of human nature and attune our souls with the existence much higher than our own. Numerous Confucian scholars in history have devoted their lives to this ideal, offering their own solutions to finding the gateway to the heavenly realm.
Aside from cosmic and ethereal awareness, social philosophy is the most treasured part of Confucian theory. To design and build an ideal human society is the most primitive concern of Confucianism, and the many routes taken in an attempt to attain this have all been attributed back to Confucianism. Important thinkers like Confucius, Mencius, and Xunzi all have systematic views about society, politics, economy, and ethics.
The structure of Confucian social philosophy is very well organized. Political system, administrative principles like policies of benevolence, light taxes, and ruling by rites are very representative views in traditional Confucian thoughts. The study of Confucius classics during the Han dynasty (206BC-220AD) gave birth to the social system designed in accordance with the Confucius theories.