Confucianism Research Project
Confucianism has easily been influential in the development of the Chinese state through history. In fact, the core ideals of Confucianism have evolved. Despite the harsh repression of Confucianism by Marxist revolutionaries during the second half of the twentieth century, Confucian values continues to be influential in Chinese society and recently, Confucian political philosophy has resurfaced again. In addition, the political ideas and social ethics of Confucianism can provide the basis for a new, functional form of government in China. Confucianism can be a viable political philosophy for China in the twenty first century because many intellectuals have turned to Confucianism to make sense of such social practices, to think of ways of dealing with China’s current social and political predicament, and to resolve the conflicts between the morals of the Confucian and Communist ideas.
“Confucianism is an ethical and philosophical system developed from the teachings of the Chinese philosopher Confucius. (Confucianism)” Confucius’ real name was Kong Qiu, and he was generally known as Master Kong. “Judging from the little direct evidence that still survives, however, it appears the Kong Qiu did not view himself as the founder of a school of thought, much less as the originator of anything. (Teiser 3) The Zhou political structure had been decaying for more than 200 years during his lifetime, and Master Kong’s goal was to restore social and political harmony by “reviving the moral character of the ruling class and the literate elite. (Adler 1)” Three major virtues in which he felt were the “basis of morality” were humanity, ritual propriety, and filial respect.
Confucius said “humanity was the essential goodness and affection for others that makes us unique from other animal species. (Adler 1)” Following Confucius, Mencius put it, “To be human is to be humane.” Ritual propriety is the “necessary outward expression in behavior of that humanity, and must be consistent with culturally specific norms. (Adler 1)” Filial respect, or respect for elders, is a “naturally occurring virtue that is the building block of the other virtues. (Adler 1)” Later on, filial respect would become the best known Confucian virtue.
“Confucianism originated as an "ethical-sociopolitical teaching" during the spring and Autumn Period, but later developed metaphysical and cosmological elements in the Han dynasty. (Confucianism)” In fact, Confucianism became the official state ideology of the Han dynasty after the desertion of Legalism in China after the Qin dynasty. Since the Han period onward, most Chinese emperors used a mix of Legalism and Confucianism as their ruling doctrine. “In other words, Confucian values were used to alleviate the harsh Legalist ideas that underlie the Imperial system. (Confucianism)”
After the fall of the Han Dynasty in 220 CE, Confucianism fell into decline and both Buddhism and Daoism were developing and gaining popularity. “It was not until the Song dynasty that there was a major revival of Confucianism. (Adler 4)” The second great period of Confucianism has been given a name by Westerners that did not exist in China: “Neo-Confucianism.” “This Confucian revival was strongly influenced by Buddhism, and to a lesser extent, Daoism. (Adler 4)”
The most dominant figure of “Neo-Confucianism” was the 12th century scholar Zhu Xi, who synthesized the teachings of his 11th - century forebears into a coherent system of philosophy and religious practice that became the dominant religion philosophical worldview of the literate elite until the 20th century. In addition, “Zhu Xi systemized a curriculum of education extending from elementary school to the Ph. D level. (Adler 5)” “Although Zhu Xi’s system was motivated by his sincere desire to help people achieve or approach Sage hood, it quickly became co-opted by the state, and therefore politicized. (Adler 5)” Later on, it became the basis of the...
Bibliography: Bell, Daniel A. "From Marx to Confucius: Changing Discourses on China 's Political Future."
"Confucianism." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 27 Oct. 2013. Web. 28 Oct. 2013. .
Teiser, Stephen F. "The Spirits of Chinese Religion." Http://afe.easia.columbia.edu. Ed. Donald S. Lopez. 1996 Princeton University Press.
Adler, Joseph A. "Confucianism in China Today." 14 Apr. 2011. Web. 28 Oct. 2013. .
Arnhart, Larry. "Darwinian Conservatism by Larry Arnhart." : Daniel Bell and The Chinese Confucian Party. 9 Aug. 2010. Web. 28 Oct. 2013. .
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