Research Proposal: Confucianism Is One of the Main Philosophical

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Confucianism is one of the main philosophical systems in the world. The name of this school of thinking derives from its founding father who is Confucius. The system in case is a complex one, including philosophical considerations which have had a strong influence in more than one area.

Here we may speak about religion, ethics, politics, etc. It is safe to state that the Confucian way of thinking has marked the overall development of East Asian countries through its moral and social implications. The core of the Confucian school of thought naturally comes from Confucius. The main issues which represent important arguments in his writings include happiness and a harmonious society.

There were the two major issues that Confucianism dealt with. On the one hand, the social order which was needed in order to achieve a society which functions properly and in which the individuals are well off. On the other hand, there was the concern about the behaviour patterns which, once respected would lead the individual to a proper achievement and development of himself. Naturally the two matters were closely connected.

Obviously there is much attention paid to the rites and rituals, humanity, loyalty, the relationships which make up the social mechanism, etc. According to the Confucian philosophy people are more likely to behave well in a system where good behaviour is taught and imposed through rites and rituals which the individual can adopt as being his own (rituals are supposed to function more efficiently than imposed rules such as the laws).

The purpose is to reach happiness. And this is where we reach one of the main themes of this philosophical school, which is harmony. Conflict is the other one. Harmony is the key for achieving the purposes that one has set for himself. Starting from internal harmony and ending with the one of the universe, this seems to be the tool that humanity needs in order to function properly.

It must be stated right from the very beginning that Confucianism as a philosophical system has underwent various transformations and development in time. Its history si a long one and the ideas which have fed it come not only from Confucius, but from a large variety of other thinkers.

Conflict are harmony are two concepts between which there is a strong and direct connection. It appears that it is easier to define conflict than harmony. One could state that the absence of conflict is harmony. But in that case we should understand what conflict is, how and when does it occur, why and what is the best solution to avoid it. Furthermore, once conflict is installed, how are we supposed to act in order to reinstall peace and harmony?

The first consideration which can be done regarding conflict is that, in order for it to occur, it is fundamental for differences to exist. If all the existing things are alike, then it is safe to say there is little chance for conflict to arise between them. But things are not alike. The truth is that things and people, especially people are extremely different. Should difference be the only source for conflict the result would be a general fight under the circumstances in which so many differences exist. The differences must meet. There must be contact and there must be the will to achieve the same thing. The scarcer the resources desired, the stronger the conflict.

Passing to the next argument we can ask ourselves what is the solution to this problem. The simplest thing which comes to mind is the elimination of one of the elements in the equation. Two elements are in a conflict-type relationship. Eliminate one and you eliminate conflict.

But is the achieved result harmony? No. Harmony means eliminating conflict without hurting any of the involved parties. Harmony is supposed to derive from a win situation. And from here we can deduce that harmony implies the idea of equality. Let us examine the Confucian views regarding these aspects.

Confucius was concerned with the efficient functioning of society. from this point-of-view it is safe to state that harmony can be defined as social order. Li and Yi are important concepts which refer to the rituals and the details of the rituals. Li refers to the order of life.

Therefore it can be considered a general principle. This principle, being general and extremely important as it refers to life is meant to be constant in time, while rituals may change according to the new preferences, values, perceptions, etc.

Rituals are important because they regulate day-to-day life. From this point-of-view it can be considered that they play a fundamental role in the development of the individual through the fact that they influence his behaviour and his beliefs. Observing the rituals, their impact as well as the manner in which people relate themselves to the generally accepted (socially imposed) rituals the deriving conclusion is that human behaviour does not find a guiding principle -- that can be taken as an eternal law- in the rules which guide rituals.

Speaking of order we can make a distinction between the natural one and the cultural one. Social order is naturally a cultural type of order. this means that it was created by man, with a purpose. The institutional dimension of social order must also be underlined.

Social order is supported by and derives from rules. These rules are imposed -- suggested by institutions which represent a manifestation of principle of organization.

Another concept which we should discuss is the so called "Jen." First and foremost we must mention that it is a concept which is very difficult to translate. In English it has been translated as humanity or benevolence. In reality the significance of the word is much more profound.

On the one hand it is connected to reason, one can reach a state of Jen only when he is under the complete dominance of reason. On the other hand, the person aiming to be in a state of Jen is must free himself from selfish desires.

Therefore, at this level we may speak about personal harmony as the absence of passions and selfish love. It is easy to understand under these circumstances how these two conditions contribute to achieving personal balance. At this point it must be underlined that personal harmony is strictly connected with the love of justice and the desire to do good. Altruism becomes an important value at this point.

Therefore we may speak of three general concepts which represent the hard knuckle of the Confucian philosophy. They are the order of life, that which is right and finally the will to perform the right (Li, Yi and Jen). Harmony and order are strictly connected, we may state that they depend on one each other in a manner which is more than significant.

Harmony in order would be nothing more but the manifestation of justice, the realization of the will to perform the good, the right. In this context Jen becomes the principle which regulates the actions of the individuals allowing them to become manifestations of the just themselves.

It is obvious that the considerations which we have made until now are highly philosophical. It must be mentioned that the rules which Confucius coined up were not metaphysical ideas but rules which were meant to allow people to manage society. Therefore, their main dimensions were the political and the moral one. We could notice a similarity with the philosophical values that are to be found in Plato's works, where human nature is fundamentally good ad where politics and morality are strictly connected.

There is another interpretation that Confucius gives to harmony and that is harmony seen as cosmic order. If on the first level we have society, then it is only logical that the second level is formed by the universe. According to the Confucian philosophy (this time we may speak about real metaphysical considerations), harmony is the natural condition of the universe. Substance is the basis of the world and harmony is the principle which organizes it. Naturally all the things should derive from the general principle of harmony.

There are two extremely interesting considerations in the writings of Confucius. On the one hand he speaks about mind- in -- substance. On the other hand he mentions the state of mind- in- harmony. There is an obvious connection between reason (the main tool that man can use in order to reach harmony) and the basic principles which make up the world, that is substance and harmony.

Both states are strongly connected with the existence of four feelings, these are anger, delight, joy and sorrow. When they are not manifested man reaches the first state. When they are manifested, but in "accord" with their principle then man succeeds in reaching the second state. The text is not very clear about the principle that these feelings need to be in accord with. However, the important idea to be underlined here is that harmony derives from cosmic order. Or… [END OF PREVIEW]

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