Scholars refer to Confucianism as a system of thought based on the teachings of Confucius, who lived from 551 to 479 B.C.E. Confucius had a significant influence on the life and thought of China more than any other person in Chinese history. He had titles like Sage of All Time and First Teacher (Molloy 11).
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Religion has shaped human civilization almost from the start of civilization for more than 10,000 years ago. Today more than half of the world’s population practice either principal or indigenous religions. Religion still shapes people’s lives significantly in politics and culture.
There is ever increasing ethnic and cultural differences, which have led to several religions practiced alongside each other. However, this essay shall focus on how Confucian thought challenge world view through his teaching of moral code reflecting on ethics, humanity, and love.
There are about six million people who today call themselves Confucians. They mostly live in Asia, particularly in China. In Europe, North and South America and in other continents there are a small numbers of people who identify themselves as Confucians. For over 2,000 years, China’s poetry and history, government and social life, and the ethics of the society dominate philosophical system of Confucianism.
Confucius emphasized on the ideal of order and harmony. Confucius emphasized that people should live in harmony. He suggested a system of interpersonal relationships and proper governance. In the system, age favored over where only friends were equal. He regarded government as the noble duty of all because ethical governance would bring joy to the people.
This explains why people are loyal to their country and the government of the day, while living in order and harmony with each other. He also believed that through education anyone could reach the highest standard of a gentleman (Molloy 13).
Confucius viewed the family as a basic unit of society. The family reflected the social, economic, and political units of the society. Family served as the natural environment for moral training. It also acted as the bridge between the individual and society.
Therefore, individuals achieved their human potential within the family. Confucius stressed the duties and obligations of each family member. He believed that each family member should act according to their roles (Molloy 15). In this case, the son owed obedience to his father just as required in European civilization. Today family relationship still remains the most fundamental unit of society.
According to Confucius, a wife was subservient to a husband. Young girls also had to obey their fathers. Girls served and obeyed their husbands and parents once married. They could only get power over their daughters’ in-law when her sons got married (Molloy 16). Sexuality and gender discourse across the world is slowly influencing Confucius’ view on the position and roles of women.
Confucius directed his teachings toward the government. Subjects owed respect to the ruler, just as the sons’ owed respect to their fathers. He also perceived the state as an expanded family. The subjects considered the emperor as the “father and mother” of the state. Today one of the duties that the emperor carries out is the wishes of his subjects as taught by Confucius.
When Confucianism became a state religion, it formed the basis of the Chinese education system. As such, education became the only way to win government appointment to higher posts. The government honored distinguished scholars just like sports super-heroes of the United States (Molloy 20).
Wealth, honor, and status followed the successful candidate and his family. Today citizens consider government officials as people of brilliant minds. Although Confucianism developed and changed, certain core ideals remained and became a stabilizing force for Chinese civilization.
Molloy, Michael. Experiencing the World’s Religions, 5th Edition. New York: McGraw-Hill Higher Education, 2010.