Confucianism and Its Implications in Modern China
Confucianism is a time enduring philosophy that has stood up to invading clans, war, resentment, enforcement and infringement of new philosophies, and eventually, revival. For almost 80 years, up until the late 1970’s, Confucianism and its ideas and values have been all but wiped away from China. Though effort was made to remove Confucianism for good from China by the Communist leader Mao Zedong in 1949, the ideas and values were so deeply embedded into peoples mind and the culture that even suppression could not keep it out of the culture and practices.
The concept of Confucianism has contributed immensely in the forming of Chinese character, behaviour and the way to live, with its main purpose being to achieve harmony which is considered the greatest social value. Confucianism firmly highlights the impression of mercy, social order and fulfilment of responsibilities. The effects of Confucianism had impacted both China and Japan to the extent that the changes are still noticeable to this day.
The role of the Chinese family in pre-modern China included thoughts centered on Confucian thought and methods. The Chinese family followed different methods of Confucian thought and the division of family responsibilities in China developed because of it. The original text of Confucius that dictated the roles of filial piety in China did not specify gender dichotomy but the implications led Chinese scholars to distinguish the position of men following filial values from women. Pre-Modern China had the dominative power of dozens of dynasties. Confucianism developed ideologically during the Spring and Autumn Period (722-476BC) as an intellectual movement.
Confucianism is a moral and religious system of China. Its origins go back to the Analects, the sayings attributed to Confucius, and to ancient writings, including that of Mencius. Confucius was born a mandarin under the name Kongzi. It was developed around 550 B.C. In its earliest form Confucianism was primarily a system of ethical concepts for the control of society.
As people, all of the actions we take, and as a result, the benefits and consequences which occur, are rooted from our own beliefs. This is seen every day through the way we carry ourselves, the choices we make, how we treat others, etc. But, most notably, it is seen throughout history in the actions and culture of nations. China in particular is an area with many belief systems/ideologies which have developed over its long history; these include Confucianism, Legalism, Daoism, and Buddhism. With the previous statement, it is only logical to conclude that these belief systems have had a large impact on China’s development and culture.
Confucianism is a complex system of moral, social, political, and religious teaching built up by Confucius on the ancient Chinese traditions, and still is the state religion down to the present day. Confucianism aims at making not just a man of virtue, but the man of learning and good manners. The perfect man must combine the qualities of a saint, a scholar, and gentleman. Confucianism is a religion without positive revelation with a minimum of dogmatic teachings.
A Critique of Confucian Morality
For many centuries, Confucianism has been widely revered by the Chinese for its emphasis on morality. Confucius, who lived from 551 to 479 BCE, is different to most philosophers in that he showed no interest questioning his existence, the possibility of a God, or the reality that he seemed to live in; instead he focused on the human relations side of philosophy as it was his belief that people should “give (themselves) earnestly to the duties due to men … (and) keep aloof from (spiritual beings)” (Confucius 195). By negating the metaphysical side of philosophy, he was able to devote himself to mold his disciples into ideal gentleman who were morally righteous, and were able to benefit society. He believed in the importance of individuals who knew their roles in an well-structured society, that was a feudal system.
The Propaganda of the Enlightenment: Confucianism in 18th Century European Theater
“Opinion governs the world, and in the end the philosophies govern men’s opinions. ”–Voltaire
It was from the Jesuits that Europe first learned of the philosophy of Confucius. What is most important about understanding how European knowledge of this great philosopher had come to be understood, is to recognize how western missionaries arrived at their celebrated conclusions: they used translations of Chinese traditions to invent the figure of Confucius, who was afterward celebrated by the West as a philosopher, prophet and saint. If one examines the history of the Jesuits’ invention of Confucius and his teaching, it is easy to reconstruct the cultural consequences of the encounter between the West and China; these accounts of Chinese culture were absorbed by European thinkers, who simplified and adjusted Confucian ideals to suit the Western desire for a reformed government—one unbound by the vision of the Catholic church.
One of the most famous people in ancient China was a wise philosopher named Confucius (circa
The teachings according to Confucius refer to Confucianism. Confucianism is the multifarious classification of ethical, collective, political and pious philosophy developed by Confucius and the old Chinese practices (Bertrand, 1999). Confucianism aim is actually making an individual honorable but also making such an individual the character of learning and of proper manners. The ideal and faultless man has to combine the characters of a saint, an intellectual and gentleman. Confucianism is a religious conviction whose adulation is focused on offerings to the dead. The idea of responsibility is extensive beyond the precincts of morals and holds close to the minutiae of daily living.