Essay: Traditional Chinese Thoughts

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Traditional Chinese Thoughts

Human nature has been the subject of debate amongst various classical Chinese philosophers. The philosophers expressed their different understanding of the human nature. The paper will focus on two Chinese philosophers Confucius and Mozi. Both philosophers came up with a different interpretation of human nature. It will look at the differences and similarities between the understandings of human nature by these two philosophers. It will also link these two philosophies with other Chinese philosophers such as Mencius, Xun Zi (Hsun Tzu), Lao Zi (Lao Tsu) and Zhuang Zi and expose how they relate.

What Confucianism and Moism entail

Confucianism and Moism were among the most influential schools of thought during the states period of war. Confucianism is philosophical and ethical system of development that was developed from teachings of Confucius, a Chinese philosopher. This was the cornerstone of the entire Chinese culture. It came up as an ethical-sociopolitical teaching during the periods of spring and autumn. It later developed cosmological and metaphysical elements during the Han Dynasty. After the Han period, Chinese emperors mixed Confucianism and legalism to apply as the ruling doctrines. Confucian values were used to cover up the legalist ideas which were harsh underlying the imperial system. Confucianism core was humanism; spiritual concern had focus on the world and family as opposed to afterlife's and gods. Broadly speaking, Confucianism is not meant to exalt faithfulness to higher law or divine (TravelchinaGuide, 2013).

The stance is based on the belief that humans can be taught, can improve, and can perfect themselves through communal and personal endeavors particularly self-creation and self-cultivation. The basic concepts and practices when it comes to ethics in Confucianism include li, yi and is a system that entails propriety and norms that stipulate how an individual is supposed to act properly in their daily lives. yi entails keeping up righteousness and moral disposition in such a way that one does good. Ren entails the obligation towards altruism and humanness when it comes to other people. Confucianism strongly advocates for giving up one's life whenever it is necessary, either actively or passively so that the cardinal moral values can be upheld. Historically Confucianism influenced various cultures and countries such as China, Hong-Kong, Korea, Vietnam, Taiwan, and Japan .today, the influence of Confucianism has greatly reduced and only a small number of people can broadly accept to be identified as Confucians. instead, people view the ethics involved in Confucianism as a guideline termed as complimentary for beliefs and ideologies such as Marxism, Islam, Christianity, democracy and so on (Wheeler, 2013).

Moism was a Chinese philosophy that was developed by Mozi a Chinese philosopher. It came about almost the same time as Confucianism, legalism and Taoism. It was among the main philosophical schools during the period of spring and autumn. It was a major rival to Confucianism and it was not adopted by any dynasty that came into power. It observes that learning of the world is achieved through adversity, therefore, when one reflects on their successes and failures they are able to attain self-knowledge and not merely conforming with the ritual. It just disappeared as a school of thought that was separate from the others. The unification of China saw Moism completely die out even though it had greatly influenced the warring states period. The greatest contribution of moism to the Chinese philosophy was the belief that there were important standards by which judgment of doctrines should and could be judged. Throughout moism, appeal is made to method of three standards which are the basis of moism, origin of moism and the application of moism by the people. The ideas of moism still had an influence on contemporaries and the emphasis was standards and methodology when it comes to arguments and had an influence that was profound on thinkers who had brought out other schools of thought (, 2010).

Comparison between Confucianism and Moism


Both had the recommendation that there was need for a social hierarchy which was based on the relationships that existed between superiors and their subordinates' .such structures which were advocated really needed a government that was bureaucratic. Moism advocated for organization whereby there would be the existence of a political organization which was highly structured. This was such that the ideas that were preached would be fully realized. The political structure comprised of an intertwined network of local units where there were leaders presiding over them. There were also subordinates under these local units. This means that in the organizations there was a form of hierarchy that existed. On the other hand in Confucianism social harmony was a great goal which entailed that an individual should know how they are placed in the social order and ensures that they play this part very well. For instance Duke Jing of Qi had posed a question on governance which he meant which was the most proper form of administration that would bring harmony in the society. The reply that he got from Confucius was that a government is in existence when there is a prince who acts as a prince, a minister acting as a minister and when there is a father acting as a father and a son acting as a son (Wheeler, 2013). Specific duties come about from a particular situation as it relates to another. When it comes to an individual basis there are different relationships between different people according to how they relate to each other. For instance a junior relates differently towards his elders and parents at the same time a senior relates differently to his siblings who are younger, students and other Confucianism, juniors are considered to owe reverence to their seniors, and at the same time seniors are supposed to be concerned and benevolent to their juniors. Therefore particular duties were accorded to each of the seniors and juniors (Piblius, 2007).

Both philosophies regard education as being of great importance. The basis of Confucianism was the seeking of knowledge and studying in order to become better people. Even though Confucius held claims that he did not invent anything, and he was only a transmitter of ancient knowledge. He came up with many new ideas such as the introduction of an imperial examination system to be used within China. This system gave a chance to anyone who had good results from their examination the chance to become a government officer. This position was one that brought honor and wealth to an entire family. He also came up with a number of principles that concerned studying. He said" studying without thinking leads to confusion." Quality education seen today was nothing new according to Confucius. Mozi gave a description of various aspects of a variety of field which can be linked to physical science at the same time providing a considerable amount of information on mathematics. It also gave a definition of the geometric point which stated that there the separation of a line into two parts. The understanding of mathematics and physical science led to preeminence o f siege engineers who combined these with their artisans' skills.


Moism believed that free will existed and hence viewed heavens displeasure as being an effect of unjust rule. On the other hand Confucianism believed that there was some sort of fatalism or predestination which had the view that heaven's displeasure is an indication of unjust rule. This thought gave rise to astrological knowledge as well as keeping a calendar that was accurate to be very important when it comes to the confusion emperor. Moism was also more utilitarian and things often thought to be useful such as music, theoretic philosophies and rites were considered to have no worth. On the other hand in Confucianism there was a belief of the existence of an ethical system which was strengthened by rites, rectification of names, music and so on. These were thought to be things that formed a backbone of righteousness and prosperity within the society. In moism anything that was not benefiting to a majority of the people was condemned hence offensive warfare was condemned. In Confucianism there was belief in helping one another, those within the family were considered first followed by those who were outside the family. In Confucianism there was no such distinction between defensive and offensive warfare made (Piblius, 2007).

In moism there was the emphasis of practical education for instance learning a particular trade or skill in contrast Confucianism valued fine arts and literary education. The differences are same to trade or technology schools and a college for liberal arts. Contrary to the teachings of Confucianism the moral teaching in moism put emphasis on authenticity and self-reflection as opposed to obedience being the main ritual. Mozi had replaced what he had considered to be long over-attachment of Chinese to the clan and family under the concept of universal love of caring that was impartial. This is different from the Confucianism whereby it was argued that it was not only natural but… [END OF PREVIEW]

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APA Format

Traditional Chinese Thoughts.  (2013, May 24).  Retrieved December 7, 2019, from

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"Traditional Chinese Thoughts."  24 May 2013.  Web.  7 December 2019. <>.

Chicago Format

"Traditional Chinese Thoughts."  May 24, 2013.  Accessed December 7, 2019.