Confucianism Leadership Happiness and Independence Term Paper

Pages: 10 (4255 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 11  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Mythology - Religion

Confucianism: Leadership, Happiness and Independence

When we talk about Confucius and his teachings, let us remember that there are no clear documents that we are talking about recording Confucius and his teachings. What we have are only the writings by others, and often the writings are also not direct. So we are really talking about the beliefs of a group of persons in an era, rather than a complete direct philosophy. The biases in Confucian philosophy should also be viewed in that light.

The methods of finding factors about a set of teachings can come only from studies of the teacher and his teachings. This was the method adopted.

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The development of the history of Confucius is itself interesting. The biography of Confucius which Sse-Ma Ch'ien wrote down among the histories of individual states, was an important point of distinction, for the uncrowned king of China and this will form the foundation of all biographies of Confucius at all stages of history. There was no chronologically arranged biography of Confucius before SseMa Ch'ien wrote it. At the same time, Sse-Ma Ch'ien had his own sources to write it. The historical works from the school established by the Master himself were first considered. Apart from this were the Commentaries of K'ung Yang and Ku Liang on the spring and Autumn Annals of Confucius. Sse-Ma Ch'ien also made extensive use of the History of Tso Ch'iu. This history is divided now into the so-called Tso Chuan. This was seen by the later scholars as a commentary on the spring and Autumn Annals, and the Kuo Yu, which are Speeches from the Various States. (Danton; Danton, 71)

TOPIC: Term Paper on Confucianism Leadership Happiness and Independence Assignment

In short, during this period of the Chinese history there were a lot of changes which were happening and these were due to the changes being felt like: the feudal states which had been earlier under the control of the Zhou dynasty had gained their freedom after attaining the required amount of economic and military strength. There were many scholar officials during this time and one of the most important among them and who was the most popular was Confucius and he was probably known in Chinese as Kungzi or Kaung-tzu. Confucius lived as a small-time official in the state of Lu, and Lu is now part of the Shandong province. Confucius was considered to be a scholar-teacher who was alive during the latter part of the 5th century BC and during the initial part of the 4th century BC. He was an advisor to the rulers of several of the states in his place. Being a scholar, Confucius attempted to bring reformation in his society and this was to be brought about by means of development and promotion of ethical behavior in human beings. And for this the rulers were considered to be a very important section of the society to be attended to as well as the ministers as they were to be the role models for other people living in the society. Confucius never really spoke directly on matters pertaining to the nature of human beings, regarding the rights of the people to oppose the acts of tyrannical rulers and also as to how the supernatural power influenced and impacted human matters. He has never directly talked about religion, yet there are scholars today, who would like to view him as "tributaries of Moses." (The Rivers of Paradise: Moses, Buddha, Confucius, Jesus, and Muhammad as Religious Founders) While all of us have our own personal likes and dislikes about religion, it does not give us a right to distort the religious feelings of others.

Even regarding his life, there is very little positive evidence available, and the opinion of most scholars is built on the "Analects." These are a collection of sayings and short dialogues which are said to have been collected by his disciples. That does not mean that there could have been no additions or subtractions during the long period between his lifetime and today. According to reports, Confucius was born in the feudal state of Liu which is in the province now called Shandong. He was unhappy due to the constant conflict between the states in China and the emperors who were venal and tyrannical. He then started preaching a system of morality and statecraft that would preserve peace and provide people with stable and just governments. This led to his having disciples and some of them were in high positions, but Confucius is not known to have occupied any important position. This may be due to his reportedly outspoken manner. He also traveled to many neighboring states so that he was able to start the experiment with his reforms. He however never got any high office. Later traditions say that he had made a special study of ancient books so that he could restore the older social order. His doctrines have been embodied in the writings. (Confucius: The Columbia Encyclopedia) His personal life history makes it clear that his sayings do not do much for achieving leadership, as he was not able to achieve much himself. That may be due his being a philosopher and most philosophers are known to be impractical.

Confucius used a term "princely man," with its importance of the ideal noble personality, and this was considered to be the objective of the ideal personality to which one should try to achieve by self development. When Confucius spoke of morality, he always talked about the moral virtues with which the "princely man" should have. Confucius used the term "princely man" on several occasions in the "Analects" and the word appears more than 70 times. This is however not a book about the teachings of Confucius but a record of the dialogues which happened between Confucius and that of his disciples. This is not a book, and there is no clear-cut definition of the word. This is also used with various nuances, and the nuances change within the context and the individual of the party to the conversation. (Bownas, Geoffrey; Kaizuka, 96)

On looking through these differing nuances it is understood that the primary role of the term is to differentiate the "princely man" from the country yokel, or the common people. This probably means that this should be the ideal of the nobleman. Further, there is the statement "The princely man possesses no manual abilities," which probably means that the "princely man" is not one who is a master having any technical skills, but one who has attained a broad gentleman's education. It was this kind of education that the group concentrated on Confucius aimed to give. In this concept of the "princely man" and his goal of a completely new education, there was a contrast between the class of gentlemen and others. (Bownas, Geoffrey; Kaizuka, 96) Thus it is difficult to say that the teachings of Confucius were intended for everybody. He is probably talking about the behavior of leaders, but only of that time, and this is an aim to produce more of those leaders. That does not make any difference to the effects of his teachings, as long as they make people get happiness, leadership and independence through following his teachings.

In certain cases the philosophy of Confucius was useful for the spread of Christianity. When the Jesuits began their attempt in order to Christianize China during the late sixteenth century, they understood that conversion to Christianity would be easier if they could find some way of appealing to the local tradition. Those were the canonical texts of the Confucian thinkers, and the knowledge of these texts was essential for government service. They were happy to find in some of the earliest Confucian writings references to a divine power very useful to them. This made conversions easier than the urbane skepticism of their educated hosts or the difficult polytheism prevalent in the common people. What is especially important to note is the Canon of Poetry. This is a collection made from earlier works which took the present form by the sixth century BCE. It should be noted that this was not a direct work of Confucius and has kept changing from time to time. In this there is a reference to a personal God. This Supreme power was referred at times as the Lord on High, shangdi, and at times as Heaven and tian. This dominated several subordinate powers and ancestral spirits usually known as shen, or deities. (Dealing with Divinity: Definitions of the spiritual in early Confucian thought)

It was the Zhou dynasty which had ruled at the time when the Poetry was being compiled, from the mid-eleventh to that of the mid-third century BCE. Prior to this was the Shang, and they had ruled from the mid-sixteenth to the mid-eleventh centuries BCE. Both of these dynasties claimed that they had been engendered by the direct form of intervention of this divinity. The Jesuits felt that there was much similarity here to at least give Jesuits a start in Confucian tradition. This… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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