The following is a research paper on Philosopher Confucius. The paper is divided into several sections. These sections includes the reason why I selected Philosopher Confucius, Confucius history and contributions to philosophy, key philosophies/Main concepts of Confucianism, how these concepts apply to our society both professionally and personally and a conclusion there from.
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The following are the main reasons as to why I decided to do a research paper on Philosopher Confucius; Confucius was more interested in personal morality i.e. the Confucian school of thought was based on personal moral behaviors.
Confucius advocated for morality in the society as a means for peaceful coexistence among people. Confucianism connected personal behavior elements with the principles that governed institutions. Confucius argued that leaders should lead by example. He explained that there is a close connection between one’s moral virtue and proper governing.
According to him, moral virtue is the only means of ensuring that there is order in the society. Confucius believed that governing is entirely dependent on personal rectification. Once a leader has rectified him or her, then he or she is capable of rectifying others. Confucius gives the example of founding fathers of Chou dynasty as models that are able to govern well due to the fact that they have already rectified themselves (Eng, 2004, P.22).
The other reason as to why I selected Confucius Philosopher is because Confucius supported strong family loyalty. Confucius regarded family as the foundation for an effective government. Confucius was thus in support of strong family ties, respect for the elderly and above all, he favored ancestor worship. According to Confucius, wives are supposed to respect their husbands and the husbands are bound to treat their companions well.
The young should never disrespect the old i.e. older people should be respected by their younger counterparts. Confucius argued that family loyalty was ideal as far as government is concerned. He maintained that, powerful emperor was ideal but he desired that emperor’s power should be limited. He encouraged people to be honest and also to have faith that it was possible to have change (Eng, 2004, P.22).
Confucius was great Chinese Philosopher, thinker and scholar. Historians generally agree that Confucius was born in Zou village in 551 BCE and was named Kong Qiu. His father was called Kong Shu Lianghe and was a prominent military figure for his loyalty and courage. However, not much is known about Confucius mother except she was known as Yan.
It is believed by some historians that Confucius parents did not marry. Other historians believes that the parents were married and later on separated .Confucius parents are also believed to have died at an early age. It is believed that Confucius lost his father first and then her mother died a few years later.
Confucius birth was at a time when the Lu state was surrounded by other states. During this time, the Lu state was among three great families. There is little literature that exists concerning Confucius childhood.
However; Confucius confesses that he had a low status during his childhood. He explains that his lowly status made him to be skilled in various aspects. Confucius was unlucky in that, he never experienced his paternal love for long as he was brought up by his widowed mother. His mother however played an important role in his life by encouraging him to become a great scholar.
This implies that his home environment in early childhood was completely different from the kind of environment that existed in traditional society i.e. Confucius was brought up in a society where division of tasks did not exist. His mother thus played the role of the father in bringing up Confucius and it is through this that might have indirectly influenced Confucius to become a great thinker. Confucius was a very talented young man as he performed dramas during ceremonies.
Historians argue that Confucius was likely that he was among the lowest rank of noble class known as ‘Knights’. A knight by virtual of his nobility is capable of getting various jobs as a record keeper, overseer of music and rituals, secretary, organizer in major ceremonies e.t.c. Indeed, knights were highly rated professionals in 6th century BCE as they organized many ceremonies including marriages, funerals, sacrificial rituals e.t.c.
Confucius thus is believed to be one of the nobility members because he was able to access educational facilities probably in a neighboring school, or maybe he was able to learn through other noble children . Confucius was skilled in six fields i.e. mathematics, literature and history, charioteering, archery, music and rites and these were indeed noble accomplishments i.e. it takes extra hard work and determination to be conversant with these skills.
Confucian thus wrote six books and they being termed as six classics. These six classics included Poetry Book, History Book, Rites Book, Music Book and a book that talked about the seasonal changes i.e. spring and autumn. However, the Music Book was lost and therefore, the six classics eventually became the five classics.
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Confucius in his middle age visited Qi which is located in the Northeast of Lu where he spoke to Qi’s king, Duke Jing. It is believed that Confucius was searching for a job in Qi state. Confucius returned to his country Lu at a time when the rebellion arose against the noble Ji family. He contemplated joining the rebellion as he believed that, the rebellion would help him gain a position where he can influence the government. This rebellion was however unsuccessful and he accepted some posts in Lu government despite the posts being minor.
He later on resigned as a result of being disgusted by dissatisfied with the behaviors of most officials in the government. This resignation rendered him jobless and in his early fifties, Confucius visited several states in search of employment. Among the states that he visited were Wei and Song where he was given minor jobs in courts and the income that he obtained helped him to meet some of his living expenses. Confucius was also married and had one child.
Scholars usually describe Confucius as a flexible person who didn’t have any egoism. This is true due to the fact that he never regarded himself as being cleverer than others. The only thing that he stated was that he loved to learn and that he was determined to seek knowledge as much as he could. He was also eager to teach others what he had acquired and in this he greatly contributed to the field of Philosophy (Rainey, 2010, P.16).
The main concepts of Confucianism are Jen, Li, Yi, Hsiao, Chih, Chun-tzu and Te. The ethics of Confucianism is constituted by Jen and Li moral principles. This moral architecture helps to define and sustain socially and acceptable conduct. Jen entails the capacity of acting in a kind and compassionate manner i.e. it signifies love and benevolence. Jen with regards to Confucianism focuses on an individual as compared to society.
Jen has a special meaning as far as Confucianism is concerned and it suggests that there is more than the difference between an individual and a group of people. According to Confucianism, the act of being human is the primary step of fulfilling love and benevolence. A person is termed to be Jen if he or she commits himself or herself to learn moral values. To be a jen, one must be human i.e. he or she must have human-heartedness, compassion, goodness, humanity, love among other virtues.
Confucius argues that these virtues are rarely fully expressed. He expressed that the true meaning of a Jen is to sacrifice one’s life in an effort to preserve these virtues. Confucius wished that people should show kindness unto others throughout the nation. According to him, Jen is the basis of all relationships and thus people should seek to show others love and benevolence i.e. jen.
The Li principle on the other hand is the code of behavior that is expected among people. According to Confucius, a prudent person does not engage in unjust actions. He argues that a wise person behaves with Li and also does not boast rather he or she is modest at all times.
According to him, Li serves four vital functions; firstly, Li helps controls the political class in their day to day activities. The government officials among them ministers should observe Li so as to effectively lead people. Li enhances loyalty and patriotism among the state officials and without Li, a nation is being subjected into chaos. Secondly, Confucius states that Li is an important socializing factor in that it enables people to exercise their control while dealing with others.
This in turn allows people to extend love to their fellow mankind. Thirdly; he states that Li serves the purpose of harmonizing both literature and arts. According to him, a man who has a detailed knowledge of arts and literature and in turn combines this knowledge with Li is unlikely to do wrong things. Lastly; Confucius states that Li plays an important role of building a person’s personality. According to him, politeness cannot be achieved if Li is not present.
The other main concepts of Confucianism are the Yi principle. Yi is the state of one being morally acceptable unto others. According to Confucius, the main purpose of Yi is to justify morality with regards to human actions. Thus, Yi is the basic law of morality as it confers the rightness or wrongness of human actions and in turn it creates a situation that satisfies people being moral agents. According to Confucian, people should perform only those actions that are deemed to be right irrespective of their consequences. He argues that acting according to Yi is like practicing Jen due to the fact that one acts due to the morality of actions and also due to respect for the humanity.
Hsiao is the other main concepts of Confucianism. According to this principle, children should learn to respect their parents for the sole reason that they originated from their parents. Parents are seen to have made much sacrifice and therefore, it is the duty of the children to make their family names to be respected.
Children are urged to consider the sacrifice that their parents made by bringing them into the world and in turn show them the much respect that they deserve. In addition, Hsiao implies that children should also accord their parents love in order that they can be blessed by their parents. Hsiao also implies that the children take over from their parents once they die by fulfilling their goals and objectives. Children are therefore required to have similar values as those of their parents.
Chih is the next main principle of Confucianism. Chih denotes moral wisdom and thus morality is the main idea behind this principle. Mencius contributed to Confucianism philosophy by arguing that everybody is born with good morals due to the fact that people recognizes the rightness and wrongness of actions by using their own mind.
According to Mencius, human beings are moral animals and thus, they are capable of doing well or to practice virtues according to Confucianism. Mencius in his view about Chih states that the survival needs by human beings are the main source of evil. In his argument, Mancius states that human beings usually feel that they disadvantaged by virtue of being moral. Human beings fail to establish the options that they have and in turn commit wrong actions.
The other principle of Confucianism is the Chun-tzu. According to Confucianism; a Chun-tzu refers to a person who possesses good moral values. In other words, a Chun-tzu person is the one who is mature. In traditional China, the society was divided with regards to decent of male lines and thus the scholars criticizes Confucius for believing that only males could become chun-tzu.
However, the term ‘gentleman’ has been considered ideal for referring to a chun-tzu as it can be applied to both males and females. According to Confucius, a person is thought to be gentleman by virtual of his birth i.e. if ones’ father was a noble or a gentleman, then the son automatically acquires the status of nobility and is thus regarded as a gentleman.
In his arguments, Confucius states that a person becomes a noble person or a gentleman as a result of steadfast learning. A gentleman is thus a person who is capable of improving a society. A gentleman should therefore act beyond his own ambitions. He should be intelligent and ready to confront any issue courageously.
Lastly, Te is the other key philosophy of Confucianism. Te refers to the ruling power i.e. the patterns which are used by the government in ruling its people. Basically, these patterns are deemed to be honest in order to ensure that the government enhances economic wellbeing of its people and also to ensure that the government has sufficient military in order to defend its citizens against any external aggression. It is also important for the government to be Te in order for the citizens to have confidence with it (Chung-Ying, 2010, P.3-17).
Confucianism principles are important to our society both professionally and personally as they are applied in the following ways; Confucianism principle plays an important role of uniting people form different backgrounds. The Jen principle in particular enables people to be personal responsible.
Confucius describes that a man ought to be strong, resolute and above all simple. This principle enables people to express love and benevolence. A to others and this in turn promotes peace in the world. Confucianism principles are humanistic implying that they are tends to understand one by focusing on him or her independently. These principles are thus applied in modern society as a means of achieving harmony through a clear understanding of individuals.
Confucianism principles enhance law and order in the society. Confucius in his principles emphasized the importance of showing respect to the authority.
He also advocated that the young should show respect to the old .Without respect, the world would be in chaos. Respect is an important value and therefore everybody deserves to respect other and also to be respected. Respect starts from an individual perspective before extending to others and therefore, Confucianism principles plays an important role in the society by ensuring that people lives harmoniously with one another (Yong, 2010, P.65-87).
Confucius principles are applicable to our society as they spread moral education throughout the society. With respect to litigation, the principles hold that everybody should be treated withy fairness and that there should be no favoritism. The principles play an important role in the modern times as they teach people that they should be guided by morality. The principles guide people to respect other people’s property. The principles argue that without rules governing property, chaos is bound to arise.
Confucianism principles advocate for sense of personal shame i.e. the Li principle. This principle is aimed at helping people to have moral shame and thus to act rightfully. This principle is important in modern society as it enables man to do just unto his fellow mankind.
Confucianism principles required that the government offices should be filled with men and women with creative judgment. This principle is applicable in modern society in that, it guides the authority to act properly in order to enhance the living conditions of the people whom they serve (Nivison, et.al., 1996, P.7).
Confucian Principles are used to enhance democracy in the world. The United States, Canada and other countries have applied the Confucian principles in ensuring that democracy is observed. This in turn has seen these countries achieve sustainable economic development and improved standards of living for their citizens.
Confucius focused his philosophy and life on how harmony can be achieved in the society. Confucius believed that maintaining proper among the members of the society was the key to peaceful coexistence.
He strongly supported core family relationships especially the relationships between fathers and their sons as well as the relationships between married couples. He believed that strong family relationships results to stability and in turn harmony would reverberate throughout the country. These facility relationships are applicable in the modern society.
Confucianism principles have been the driving force behind cultures of many nations around the world particularly China and Korea. These principles have been applied in many aspects among them in marriages, politics e.t.c. (Yao, 2000, P.56-57)
Confucius played an important role of shaping the modern society. His philosophical works are important as the concepts apply to our society both professionally and personally.
Confucius believed that peaceful coexistence among the members of the society depended on the relationships between people and thus it is important for people to love one another and also extend compassion, kindness and caring. Confucianism upholds that humanness is the key to a healthy society. For the world to survive and be free form any form of chaos, it is important that it preserve the Confucian teachings.
Chung-Ying, C. (2010). Developing Confucian Onto-Ethics in a Postmodern World/Age. Journal of Chinese Philosophy, 37(1), 3-17.
Eng, P. (2004). Kungfu Basics. Tokyo: Tuttle Publishing.
Nivison, T., et al. (1996).The ways of Confucianism: investigations in Chinese Philosophy. Chicago: Open Court Publishing.
Rainey, J. (2010).Confucius and Confucianism: The Essentials. Hoboken: John Wiley and Sons.
Yao, X. (2000). An introduction to Confucianism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Yong, H. (2010). Confucius And Mencius On The Motivation To Be Moral. Philosophy East & West, 60(1), 65-87.