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Reflection on Confucianism Essay

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Updated: Dec 26th, 2019


Confucianism is considered as one of the philosophies that were developed in the ancient times yet it still asserts a significant influence on the contemporary society (Liu 2006, 47). One of the authors who have written widely on Confucianism is Yao. In his presentation of Confucianism, Yao (2005, 17) makes attempts to link the philosophy to its developer and the culture or tradition within which Confucianism developed. This paper looks into the conception of Confuciasm by Yao. The paper also assesses the classical development of Confucian, the Yi jing.

The broader view of the philosophy

Yao reacts against the constricted view of the philosophy, which comes from failure to open into the historical development of the philosophy and the role of the Confucian tradition as a whole in advancing Confucianism. By opening up into this history, it becomes easier to establish the role and influence of Ru in the advancement of Confucian teachings (Yao 2005, 21).

Yao does not rule out the role of the founder of this philosophy. He tries to present a broader picture of the development of the philosophy by picturing it from his tradition and the society from which it developed, rather that basing on Confucius. This is achieved by focusing on the evolution of the philosophy of Confucianism.

By placing the philosophy in the context of the entire Chinese society, it emerges that Confucianism has grown within the traditional Chinese society has thus been influenced by the changes in the political and social demands of the society. The point that is brought out here is that Confucianism had an influence on the functionality of the society through learning and the exercise of the Confucian ethos.

By arguing that Confucianism was not solely developed by Confucius, Yao tries to present a broader view of how the philosophy of Confucianism has grown and spread across the world. Yao tries to present Confucianism, not merely as a philosophy, but also as a tradition. This is done through the linkage of Confucianism to the Ru tradition in China (Yao 2005, 17).

Understanding Confucianism from the societal context

In order to link the development of the Confucian tradition to the development and enhancement of the Chinese society, its development is divided into two. There is the creative period of Confucian development, which depicts the formulation of the philosophy together with the development of the principles within the tradition.

The second part is the most valid part as it links the Confucian tradition to the social and political developments over the period of development of the philosophy. This puts the philosophy in the context of the tradition, thereby moving it away from the focus on the developer and picturing it from a wider perspective. Confucianism is further divided into three epochs.

These are the periods of development that are presented in a sequential manner in order to capture the developments in the philosophy and other historical happenings (Yao 2005, 18-20). The main aim of such a presentation of the historical development of Confucianism is to establish its tie with the developments in the contemporary globalized society.

The question that leads to this is whether Confucianism can be likened to global culture and spirituality. Yao seeks to present an understanding of the doctrines of Confucianism in the modern society. This cannot be attained by looking at philosophy from the developer perspective, but from the perspective of the tradition and society.

Apart from the founder of the philosophy of Confucianism, the tradition and society within which the philosophy has developed exerted a lot of influence on the philosophy. This justifies the exploration of diverse dimensions in the development of the tradition (Yao 2005, 6-8).

What Yi Jing says about the role of a Confucian?

Of great importance to the development of Confucianism is the translation of the teachings and doctrines of Confucianism into other languages. This is known as Yi jing. Yin jing was a curriculum that was utilized in the study of Confucian philosophies. Yi jing falls within the main Confucian classics of China. Yi jing plays a significant role in advancing the Confucian commentary.

The concept of divination has been one of the core concepts in the doctrine of Confucianism. Therefore, translation of the ethical and philosophical commentaries in the Yi jing provides a background for understanding the conceptions of divination in Confucianism. Western conceptions of Confucian philosophies are highly founded in the binary translations (Engelfriet 1998, 98-99).

The translations in the Yi Jing can be likened to western Geomancy. These classical texts have portrayed a deeper sense of the role of Confucian in the society. However, the translation takes complex process, which makes it hard for one to translate the Confucian commentary. One needs a substantial amount of time in order to know how to make translations of the Confucian commentaries as posited in the Yi jing.

This is a negative implication as it portrays Confucian commentaries as difficult for translation and understanding (Little 2006, 165). The paper has profoundly implored the confines in the understanding of the philosophy of Confucianism. From the discussion, it has come out that a clear understanding of the philosophy, more so in the context of the contemporary world can only be attained through studying it within the context of the tradition and society in which it developed.

Reference List

Engelfriet, Peter M. 1998. Euclid in China: The Genesis of the First Chinese Translation of Euclid’s Elements Books I – VI (Jihe Yuanben; Beijing, 1607) and its Reception up to 1723. Leiden, Boston, Köln: Brill.

Little, Reg. 2006. A Confucian-Daoist Millennium? Bacchus Marsh: Connor Court Publishing.

Liu, JeeLoo. 2006. An Introduction to Chinese Philosophy: From Ancient Philosophy to Chinese Buddhism. Malden, MA: Blackwell.

Yao, Xinzhong. 2005. An Introduction to Confucianism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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