Confucius (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)
The key concepts of Confucius' moral philosophy can be concisely delineated as follows: According to Schwartz, it is “an all encompassing state of affairs embracing articulating the five basic human relationships “which govern the relationship . up “treating our dearly beloved as apathetically as we treat passers-by”. In fact, Confucianism built on an ancient religious foundation to establish the social norms of behavior in primary social institutions and basic human relationships. were to treat each other with love, respect, and consideration for the needs of all. Everyday life is so familiar that we do not take its moral content seriously. Since several of these relationships deal with family, Confucianism asserts that when the principal relationships of the family are tranquil, Li will.
These are strong signals that in the eyes of the authors of the Zuozhuan, Confucius was by this time in his life established as a person of significance in Lu. Meng Xizi went on, however, and declared that what another Lu nobleman named Zang Sunhe had once said was true in the case of Confucius: In Duke Zhao of Lu moved against the head of the most powerful—and the wealthiest— of the families: But the attack failed and the duke was forced to flee from Lu and spend the remaining years of his reign in exile, first in Lu's large neighbor Qi and then in a town in the state of Jin where he died in According to Sima Qian, when Duke Zhao was first forced into exile, Confucius also went to Qi to serve as a retainer in the household of the nobleman Gao Zhaozi.
He was no doubt commenting on politics in Qi where—as was also the case in Lu—power rested not in the hands of the ruler but instead in the hands of the powerful ministerial families who were supposed to serve him.
Some unidentified adversity probably precipitated Confucius' departure from Qi.EASTERN PHILOSOPHY - Confucius
And it seems that back home in Lu he was fairing poorly in locating employment. So noteworthy was this failure that a passage in the Analects comments on it: Be friendly toward your brothers and extend this to governing. Why must one be in office to govern?
As noted earlier, what mattered to the Confucius of the Analects was not winning an official position but remaining faithful to the moral behavior he valued. The Zuozhuan confirms that he held the post starting sometime around Given what one might expect a director of crime to do—to enforce the law and impose corporal punishments on those found guilty of crime—it is odd to think that Confucius served in the role given his famous opposition to the use of fines and punishments, dismissing them as ineffective and counterproductive in governing people: The contradiction among our sources is paradigmatic of the problems we face in figuring out the events in Confucius' life.
Perhaps the claims that Confucius served as director of crime are fictional. Perhaps he did serve in the role and learned from the experience the ineffectiveness of punishment in maintaining order in society.
Or perhaps the Analects passage is an interpolation—something Confucius himself never said—added by a branch of his school that wanted to represent their master as strongly opposed to legalistic measures in spite of his having served as a law enforcement officer in Lu.
As it is presented in the Zuozhuan, the single most important event in Confucius' official career in Lu, and perhaps even in his lifetime, was the BCE meeting at Jiagu in the state of Qi when he was called upon to protect the life of Duke Ding of Lu r.
To formalize a peace agreement between Lu and Qi, the rulers of the two states met at Jiagu and signed an oath promising to abide by certain terms and conditions lest they be harshly dealt with by the gods and spirits. The Qi ruler and his lieutenants had plotted to use the occasion to humiliate Lu and perhaps even to seize Lu's ruler. The Confucius of the Zuozhuan is shown as adroit and skilful in dealing with these dangerous circumstances.
He succeeds not only in getting Qi to withdraw its armed men from the meeting but also to return to Lu lands that Qi had previously appropriated in return for Lu's future participation in Qi's military adventures. The duke attempted to have the families tear down the walls of the fortresses that secured their fiefs—the duke's argument was that the fortresses might be seized by lower-ranking stewards and thus were more of a threat than a benefit to the families—but the population of the Ji family fortress at Bi rebelled and attacked the Lu capital threatening the life of the duke.
Again, Confucius came to the duke's rescue and the rebellion by the Bi masses was eventually put down by the army of Lu. However, the Meng family simply refused to tear down the walls that protected their family fortress at Cheng. Duke Ding led an army to lay siege to Cheng and level its walls but he failed to do so and his weakness and ineptitude were made all the more obvious by this failure.
What role Confucius played in the duke's plans is difficult to determine. It seems rather that, at least according to the Zuozhuan, his disciple Zi Lu, in the employ of the Ji family, played a more significant part. Whatever the case may be, in the stories that follow this dramatic tale, Confucius, along with Zi Lu and other disciples, departed Lu late in and went into exile.
In the company of his disciples, Confucius travelled in the states of Wei, Song, Chen, Cai, and Chu, purportedly looking for a ruler who might employ him but meeting instead with indifference and, occasionally, severe hardship and danger.
Several of these episodes, as preserved in Sima Qian's account, appear to be little more than prose retellings of songs found in the ancient Chinese Book of Songs. Confucius' life is thus rendered a re-enactment of the suffering and alienation of the personas of the poems.
Confronted by Zi Lu's displeasure, Confucius swore he did not do anything wrong with the woman. While it is possible to suspect that the story is a later addition to the Analects, that does not mean that it is less believable than anything else the text says about events in Confucius' life. Later on, in the state of Song, Confucius just barely escaped with his life from an attack by Marshal Huan, a formidable Song nobleman, who for unknown reasons was intent on killing him.
According to passages in the Analects, the duke of She asked Confucius about the art of governing and also asked Zi Lu about Confucius' character. Both passages are meant to suggest that Confucius found the duke lacking in virtue and learning. Followers fell ill and none was able to rise to his feet. Confucius' reply to Zi Lu is not merely a lesson on the distinction between the superior man's endurance of hardship and the tendency of his opposite, the petty individual, to resort to crime.
Confucius is drawing the distinction when all were in straitened circumstances and as such his words should be read as a pointed reminder to Zi Lu and the other disciples traveling with him at the time that, in spite of the difficulties they were facing, they should adhere to the highest standards of ethical behavior.
Perhaps it was Zi Lu's indignation that triggered in Confucius a worry that his followers might take extreme and even immoral measures to find food. Either inspired by this story or informed by tales and traditions that are lost to us, a passage in the Mozi—a text that preserves a political and social philosophy greatly at odds with the teachings of Confucius and the Ru school—claims that Confucius, who had a reputation for being scrupulous about his meals, ate pork given him by Zi Lu even though he had reason to believe that Zi Lu had stolen it.
The Ji family was still the most powerful in Lu as they had been when Confucius had departed in the aftermath of Duke Ding's aborted efforts to dismantle the fortresses of the three Huan families. While he had some interaction with the head of the Ji family as well as with the reigning Lu ruler, Duke Ai, Confucius appears to have spent the remainder of his life teaching, putting in order the Book of Songs, the Book of Documents, and other ancient classics, as well as editing the Spring and Autumn Annals, the court chronicle of Lu.
Confucianism - Wikipedia
Sima Qian's account also provides background on Confucius' connection to the early canonical texts on ritual and on music the latter of which was lost at an early date. The Analects passage which appears to corroborate Sima Qian's claim seems corrupt and hence unreliable on this point. Our best source for understanding Confucius and his thought is the Analects. But the Analects is a problematic and controversial work, having been compiled in variant versions long after Confucius' death by disciples or the disciples of disciples.
Some have argued that, because of the text's inconsistencies and incompatibilities of thought, there is much in the Analects that is non-Confucian and should be discarded as a basis for understanding the thought of Confucius.
While none of us comes to such an enterprise without deep-laid assumptions about necessary logical relations and compatibilities, we should at least hold before ourselves the constant injunction to mistrust all our unexamined preconceptions on these matters when dealing with comparative thought. Some have argued that these passages were originally more general prescriptions on how a gentleman should dress and behave that were relabelled as descriptions of Confucius.
Traditionally, Book X has been regarded as providing an intimate portrait of Confucius and has been read as a biographical sketch. The following passages provide a few examples of why, more generally, it is difficult to glean from the Analects a genuinely biographical, let alone intimate, portrait of the Master. Confucius, at home in his native village, was simple and unassuming in manner, as though he did not trust himself to speak.
But when in the ancestral temple or at Court he speaks readily, though always choosing his words with due caution. When the ruler is present he is wary, but not cramped. If he halts, it must never be in the middle of the gate, nor in going through does he ever tread on the threshold. He must change his food and also the place where he commonly sits. He does not object to his rice being thoroughly cleaned, nor to his meat being finely minced.
By the fourth century, Confucius was recognized as a unique figure, a sage who was ignored but should have been recognized and become a king. Confucius also figures prominently as the subject of anecdotes and the teacher of wisdom in the writings of Xunzi, a third century follower of Confucius' teachings. Indeed chapters twenty-eight to thirty of the Xunzi, which some have argued were not the work of Xunzi but compilations by his disciples, look like an alternative, and considerably briefer, version of the Analects.
Confucius and his followers also inspired considerable criticism from other thinkers. The anecdote quoted earlier from the Mozi is an example. The authors of the Zhuangzi took particular delight in parodying Confucius and the teachings conventionally associated with him. But Confucius' reputation was so great that even the Zhuangzi appropriates him to give voice to Daoist teachings. Confucius' Ethics Confucius' teachings and his conversations and exchanges with his disciples are recorded in the Lunyu or Analects, a collection that probably achieved something like its present form around the second century BCE.
We can do little or nothing to alter our fated span of existence but we determine what we accomplish and what we are remembered for. Confucius represented his teachings as lessons transmitted from antiquity. Confucius pointed especially to the precedents established during the height of the royal Zhou roughly the first half of the first millennium BCE.
Such justifications for one's ideas may have already been conventional in Confucius' day. Certainly his claim that there were antique precedents for his ideology had a tremendous influence on subsequent thinkers many of whom imitated these gestures. But we should not regard the contents of the Analects as consisting of old ideas.
Much of what Confucius taught appears to have been original to him and to have represented a radical departure from the ideas and practices of his day. Confucius also claimed that he enjoyed a special and privileged relationship with Heaven and that, by the age of fifty, he had come to understand what Heaven had mandated for him and for mankind. Confucius was also careful to instruct his followers that they should never neglect the offerings due Heaven. Rather they show that Confucius revered and respected the spirits, thought that they should be worshipped with utmost sincerity, and taught that serving the spirits was a far more difficult and complicated matter than serving mere mortals.
This meant being sure to avoid artful speech or an ingratiating manner that would create a false impression and lead to self-aggrandizement. Under the concept the li, the dominate person receives respect and obedience from the subordinate person but is by no means a dictator. He is supposed to reciprocate with love, goodwill, support and affection towards the subordinate person. The Confucian code of subordinate relationships also extended to professions, with scholars at the top; peasant farmers in the middle; and artisans and merchants at the bottom.
Confucian scholars grew their fingernails long to show they didn't do physical labor. Under Confucian leadership, crimes were often dealt with by ostracism and humiliation rather than physical punishment. Good Websites and Sources on Confucianism: Robert Eno, Indiana University indiana. A Life in thought and Politics New York: Chinese Government White Paper on Religion china-embassy. John Howkins wrote in the Australian,"The Chinese are always conscious of rank and position.
One hesitates to say class, but it's the right word. Everything has its place, and knowing one's place produces the much-loved harmony. But creativity thrives by being different, and art weaves its magic by being shocking and disruptive. The Australian July 28, ] Confucianism is credited with making Chinese society fiercely patriarchal and defining its social stratification with: At the bottom were 4 merchants.
All they did was buy and sell things. Society began to change when the merchant class made money and used it to increase their power, prestige and education level. Some argue that traditional stratification has broken down and been replaced by a new hierarchy with merchant-bureaucrats at the top, farmers are at the bottom, and artisans being replaced by factory workers and migrant labor and scholars being repressed by the government.
Structure and hierarchy have traditionally been very important in all levels of Chinese society. People are expected to observe mores on rank and position and show humility and deference to their superiors. By showing deference one tends to raise their own position in the view of others rather than lower it. Today there is some confusion as to what the most important structures and hierarchies are. Tim Doctoroff author of Billions: The farmers supported a small number of specialized craftsmen and traders and also an even smaller number of land- and office-holding elite families who ran the society.
Although the peasant farmers and their families resembled counterparts in other societies, the traditional Chinese elite, often referred to in English as the gentry, had no peers in other societies.
CONFUCIANISM AND SOCIETY, FILIALITY AND SOCIAL RELATIONSHIPS
They were dispersed across the country and often lived in rural areas, where they were the dominant figures on the local scene. Although they held land, which they rented to tenant farmers, they neither possessed large estates like European nobles nor held hereditary titles.
They achieved their highest and most prestigious titles by their performance on the central government's triennial civil service examinations. These titles had to be earned by each generation, and since the examinations had strict numerical quotas, competition was fierce. Government officials were selected from those who passed the examinations, which tested for mastery of the Confucian Classics.
Elite families, like everyone else in China, practiced partible inheritance, dividing the estate equally among all sons. The combination of partible inheritance and the competition for success in the examinations meant that rates of mobility into and out of the elite were relatively high for a traditional agrarian society. Civil officials were directly appointed and paid by the emperor and had to have passed the civil service examinations.
Officials, who were supposed to owe their primary loyalty to the emperor, did not serve in their home provinces and were generally assigned to different places for each tour of duty. Although the salary of central officials was low, the positions offered great opportunities for personal enrichment, which was one reason that families competed so fiercely to pass the examinations and then obtain an appointment.
For most officials, officeholding was not a lifetime career. They served one or a few tours and then returned to their home districts and families, where their wealth, prestige, and network of official contacts made them dominant figures on the local scene.
In the ideal Confucian scheme of social stratification, scholars were at the highest level of society, followed by farmers, then by artisans, with merchants and soldiers in last place. Experts, such as tax specialists or physicians, ranked below the ruling political generalists. Although commerce has been a major element of Chinese life since the early imperial period, and wealthy merchants have been major figures in Chinese cities, Confucianists disparaged merchants.
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Commercial success never won respect, and wealth based on commerce was subject to official taxes, fees, and even confiscation. Upward mobility by merchants was achieved by cultivating good relations with powerful officials and educating their sons in the hope they might become officials. Although dynasties were founded by military conquest, Confucian ideology derogated military skill. Common soldiers occupied a low position in society and were recruited from its lowest ranks. Chinese civilization, however, includes a significant military tradition, and generals and strategists usually were held in high esteem.
In practical terms, farming was considered a hard and insecure life and one that was best left if an opportunity was available. In Chinese communities the factors generating prestige were education, abstention from manual labor, wealth expended on the arts and education, a large family with many sons, and community service and acts of charity.
Another asset was an extensive personal network that permitted one to grant favors and make introductions and recommendations. There was no sharp line dividing the elite from the masses, and social mobility was possible and common. They set rules, and the "duty and virtue" of everyone else is to follow them.
The oldest male and father, in turn, are supposed to reciprocate this reverence by supporting and looking out for the best interest of the people subordinate to them. Love and respect are principals that are practiced in the context of the family.
Confucians do not ascribe to the idea of loving all people equally.