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Imperial western powers led to the unprecedented alteration of traditions of the Confucianism religion that existed in Asia. Consequently, no other tradition of the Asian continent was profoundly affected as the Confucian notion. Adler’s work on Varieties of Spiritual Experience: Shen in Neo-Confucian Discourse points out how the notion suffered “the potential risk of built-in biases caused by projecting foreign concepts onto the subject matter” (2004, p.1).
The idea was to make Chinese traditions reoriented with concepts of globalization, westernization, and modernization as the main paradigms for fueling the spreading of imperialism that was championed by western nations. The merger between the western religious teachings and Confucianism introduced a paradox that was resolved by scholars through the articulation of the two religious beliefs, core values, and goals.
The results were the enrichment of the Confucian tradition to assume a new paradigm of neo-Confucian. Consequently, Confucianism is no longer taken as an ancient philosophic, political, or religious tradition but a concept that is open to the future and modern world. The idea of neo-Confucianism is to promote healthy interactions between the culture of China and other cultures interplaying in the modern world.
Evolution of Neo-Confucianism
Ren is among the qualities that link with Confucianism that explains the role of selflessness coupled with humanness for various people in the society. From the Confucianism view, humanness is well explained through the ethics of reciprocity. The concept of humanism is an incredible tool to understand how concepts of neo-Confucianism relate with the development of political pedology that is inspired by the Confucianism culture.
Indeed, Confucianism humanism is built on the pillars of humanness, integrity, propriety, and knowledge. Confirming the argument, Adler (2004) says, “the fundamental Confucian belief that human values are rooted in the natural world, and that it describes a form of religious life best characterized as a system of ultimate transformation and ultimate orientation” (p.2).
These pillars help in the construction of society that is both just and fair to all and hence the reason why neo-Confucianism proponents disregard the treatment of Confucianism philosophical paradigm as irrelevant in the modern globalized world. Neo-Confucian innovations and syntheses in the development of ‘mysterious learning’ are fostered by the spirit as an aspect of mind, which enables Sage’s mind to penetrate to the most difficult and deep mysterious things.
This role aids in the detection of incipient changes and principles coupled with a total comprehension of moral order. However, this exposition does not mean that all people can become Sages. Nevertheless, according to Confucianism, cultivating spiritual clarity can transform people and those who surround them thus helping them to embrace proper behaviors and appropriate relationships.
Behaviors and Appropriate Relationships
Nations where Chinese have settled are tremendously influenced by Confucianism culture. Such nations include Vietnam, China, Japan, Taiwan, and Korea among others. Recognizing these immense impacts, Clart and Pao (2003) question whether there is a popular Confucianism.
In the Neo-Confucianism culture, despite these nations being inspired by Confucianism, no single person identifies himself or herself as Confucius, but the concepts of Confucianism serve as complementary ethical aspects that help in guiding beliefs and ideologies such as Marxism, Islam, Buddhism, democracy, and capitalism among others.
Therefore, the central concern of Clart and Pao’s article about the Confucianism culture is to prescribe some fundamental guidelines for promoting good cultural behaviors during interactions as prescribed by key icons of the concepts of Confucianism. For instance, different people undertake some chores at different ages in the society.
Here, one sees the divisions of work within all members of the society. For instance, at the age of six, boys learn how to write while girls are given ordinary women’s task. While divisions of tasks are crucial, Confucianism culture faces critics for its failure to accord equal rights to all people particularly the accessibility of education for women and confinement of women to home-based chores.
For example, at the age of 10, girls need to fully get involved in household chores among them being weaving, cooking, and breeding silkworms since they are the best duties for women. This argument is a departure from the concepts already learnt in class, which are effective in encouraging an embodied and lived understanding of proper behaviors and appropriate relationships among people.
Confucianism culture has manifested itself in a variety of forms in East Asia from responses to hierarchical issues, ritual practices, and gender roles. Li, translated as ritual, moral, or etiquette is used in the Chinese language to refer to various secular functions encountered in the daily life of people.
While using the concept of li to explain how people ought to interact, Clart and Pao (2003) argue that, although it is loosely translated to mean rituals, it does not mean that it refers to “arbitrary practices but the routines that people engage either knowingly or unknowingly in the due course of execution of their daily chores” (p. 12). The principle tied within Confucianism culture that facilitates the realization of such a society is the interplay between emotions and its impacts on composition of people’s character.
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Therefore, according to Clart and Pao’s article, cultivation of harmony within individuals makes them virtuous. Doing contrary to this principle destroys the character of people. In this sense, harmony is an essential virtue that is effective in encouraging an embodied and lived understanding of proper behaviors and appropriate relationships among people.
Adler, Joseph. Varieties of Spiritual Experience: Shen in Neo-Confucian Discourse. New York: Cross Road, 2004.
Clart, Philip, and T’oung Pao. “Confucius and the Mediums: Is there a ‘Popular Confucianism’?” JISC 89, no.1 (2003): 1-38.