Term Paper: Confucianism Describe the Unique Characteristics

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[. . .] Confucius tells that not many people are able to keep jen constantly in mind; he also tells that jen is very close to us. As 'humanism' deals with ren or humanness, 'humanism' is the core of Confucianism. This is specifically emphasized by Mencian wing of the Confucian tradition and elevated to metaphysical level by one of the later thinkers, Neo-Confucian schools of Song-Ming times. Confucianism appears to be an open counter part with Chinese communism as 20th-century Confucian scholars credits the word 'humanism' to Confucianism; and hence this new understanding must itself be "historicized" as a metacommentary. (Huang, p.32)

The distinctive characteristics of Confucian humanism can be known from the teachings of Confucius. Confucius says the person cannot bear difficulties for a longer time and he cannot enjoy the success if he is not a man of humanity (ren). The man of knowledge develops humanity and simplicity. He is free from vices if he sets his mind on humanity. Riches and credit are what every person is for as said by Confucius. But these qualities do not remain if they are got by treachery and immoral acts. Every person dislikes being deficient and meek but if these are obtained by being immoral then they must be evaded. (Huang, p.33) A person who drifts from being kind never elevates to a superior man and a person who is kind to the human race never becomes a superior individual since he suffers for a single meal. He acts accordingly at the moment of haste and difficulties. According to Confucius, a man of knowledge enjoys in water and a man of kindness enjoys in mountains. The man of intelligence delights while the man of human kind enjoys long life. As for Confucius, a learned man and a man of kindness will never hurt the human race and would rather give up his life to realize humanity. A person who can follow five things at any place is a man of humanity as per Confucius, which he explains to Tzu-Chang. The five things are sincerity, charity, honesty, meticulousness and kindness. If a person is sincere he will be respected. If he is charitable all will praise him. If he is honest, he will be relied upon. If he is careful, he will succeed and if he is kind, others will help him. (Huang, p.35)

Confucianism was different from Secular humanism. Secular humanism is the most difficult and most planned of non-Christian philosophies. The evangelical Christianity exposed secular humanism in the early 80's. Philosophers, scientists and poets of classical Greece and Rome and the ancient Chinese Confucian society, the Carvaka movement in India and other intellectual and moral traditions form a base to these ethics. Secular humanism is focused on reason, facts and methods of inquiry as a means of finding solution to man's problems. It was against faith and was based on human understanding, intelligence and outlook towards life. It was a philosophy, which was based on searching for political and social principles of ethical conduct. The philosophy was based on achieving the well-being and progress of human beings through reason and science. It does not provide importance to supernatural elements, which were considered outside of this universe to solve human problems; rather the history, individual experiences and reason provide a solution to human problems.

Every religion has got the following components. 1. A Creator gives rise to a) the world, b) organic life, c) the brainpower. The cosmology in origin is a 7-day cosmology though it is unaccepted by science. 2. A metaphysics clarifies a) the correlation between the Creator and the human life, b) the significance of human life, c) the emergence of moral laws. 3. There are a set of people who live their personal life, society and government according to that principle. With these explanations, Confucianism can be considered a great religion of mankind though it has no visible institution or a concretized god. Confucianism gives the cosmology, which explains the rise of the universe and its organic life. Wu-Chi leads to Tai Chi, which turns out to be Yin and Yang. Yin and Yang form 8 Kwa (Trigrams) and 64 Kwa (Hexagrams). (Taylor, p.66)

The modern basic particle physics is like the Five Walk theory in Confucianism. The Ming-Ming theology explains the nature of true almighty God, the bond between man and God and gives the significance of human life. It is a complete system and no query is left out. This principle describes the emergence of good and bad and also gives a chance for human perfectibility. Every government and family in China is a part of Confucian institution. Every Chinese lives and dies in this institution. Confucianism is the greatest creed of mankind according to some people. The social ethics and moral teachings of Confucius are unified with Taoist communism; with the Buddhist theory of after life and also to China and some other parts of Asia, which forms the peacefully matching concurrent and ecumenical religions. (Taylor, p.66)

Though Confucianism is explained as a religion it is not so in the real sense. Some say that teachings of Confucius can never be proposed as a religion. Some others say it cannot be religion as Confucius as a philosopher, moralist, statesman and educationist and not a religionist. The beliefs and preaching of Confucius are not religious philosophies but are only ethical philosophies, political and educational principle. It has no revelatory sacred writings, no priest, no guidelines on after-life and scowl on asceticism and monasticism. Confucius accepted the religious values of his days but did not write. He or his followers did not defy the beliefs of God and the practice of praying one's prominent ancestors. The trend of worshipping one's fore fathers was dated before Confucianism. Zhou dynasty solemnized this custom. Princely families worshipped their ancestors from the originators of their family line to the present. In theory, lesser families were allowed to worship only their last 4 generations of ancestors.

The head of the family was the high priest of the set and had the power to see that the ancestors are worshipped correctly. Ancestors have to be pacified like the spirits, as they were believed to have an influence on the natural world. In Chinese culture the custom of worshipping one's ancestors enlightens the power of the family. Family unit was the focal point of the Chinese civilization from the earliest days. The entire power of the family was at the hands of the head of the family. The meaning of the family meant not only the living members but also the dead and the next generation to come. This made them to retain their family traditions and also a feeling of continuity. Some rudiments of other religions like Christianity or Islam is not present in Confucianism. It is mainly a moral system of one's lifetime to which customs have been added.

Explain the "one thread" that runs through the teachings of Confucius. Quote the passages containing the idea of "one thread" from the Analects and discuss how this one thread can be an essential way to understand the confucian teachings. Discuss this teaching in relation to a similar teaching of other traditions.

There was not a methodical prospectus at his time when Confucius became the first proficient tutor for higher education. Confucius held discussions on specific subjects and also suggested his students to study certain pursuits. But these were sorted out or cut off as they are today. Confucius teachings were realistic and were intended to help people to advance their charm and behavior and prepare themselves for an official position in the government. Though Confucius wanted his students to learn about new things, he cautioned them to be careful with their words and activities. Tzu-Chang was learning to get an official salary. His master suggested him to listen much but to keep away from that which is uncertain so that only a few will blame. To see much but to keep aside that which is risky while practicing to avoid regrets. When there is a lesser chance to blame and his acts give a few chances of regrets, then he is on the right path of getting a salary. Confucius highlighted the core of one's knowledge and not on the quantity of knowledge. (Philosophy East and West, p.18)

Once when Confucius was talking with Tzu-Kung he apparently found that his student was getting the wrong notions and asked him to elucidate it. "I suppose you look at me as a person who wants to learn and remember as many things as possible." Tzu-Kung answered that this was what he thought and wanted to know if it was so. Confucius replied that there was only one thread that runs through all. When we study the content of Confucius teachings we… [END OF PREVIEW]

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