Confucius and Humanity

Topics: Confucius, Aristotle, Analects Pages: 8 (2920 words) Published: February 10, 2013
The basic conception of Confucius' philosophy is ren, i.e., humanity, while humanity is at the same time the leitmotiv of our epoch. This accounts for why the Confucian idea is so close to contemporary readers and why his teaching principles and methods have maintained vitality throughout history. Confucius explained humanity as 'to love the people,' or 'to love the masses extensively.' This led him to provide equal opportunities in education and to carry out teaching activities in dialogue with his disciples. The overall development of everyone's potential ability constitutes the most important part of Confucius' notion of humanity. He practiced moral education, intellectual education, physical education and aesthetic education through his 'six art crafts': 'The wise have no perplexities, the humanists have no worries, and the courageous have no fears. His philosophy was originated from his political practice and teaching activity. Based on experience, its principles and methods are pragmatic rather than speculative. Confucius has been honored as a paragon of virtue and learning by Chinese people for thousands of years. The main documents of Confucian philosophy consist in recorded dialogues and discourses with his disciples: The Analects. Thus it may be seen that his lectures sent forth an amiable intimacy, and his philosophic discourses were characterized distinctively by an element of feeling.

Having acted as shepherd, trumpeter and storekeeper in his early days, Confucius eventually turned out to be the most famous and learned scholar in his time by staunch studying independently. From his thirtieth down to his death, there were thousands of students following around him. Even after his death, his tomb had been guarded by lots of disciples and admirers ,and the place turned to be a village at last. With his achievements and prestige, Confucius had been honored for a paragon of virtue and learning by Chinese people for thousands of years. 

The main documents of Confucian philosophy consist in the recorded dialogues and discourses between him and his disciples. Thus it may be seen that his lectures sent forth an amiable intimacy, and his philosophy in that time could only be a naive empiricism brought forth by the special situation rather than a great set of speculative metaphysics. 

I. Humanity Principle 

The central idea of Confucian philosophy is REN, i.e. humanity, he explained that REN is to love the people," one could not love only his parents, brothers, sisters and sons," but ought to love the masses extensively. Here the "masses" did not signify specially certain kind of people. Its basic meaning is like what Buddha said of saving all the living creatures and Christ said of loving all the people including your enemy. 

When his stables were burnt down, on returning from court, Confucius said, "Was anyone hurt?" He did not ask about the horses, those he asked about might be his home slaves to whom he had never discriminated, on the contrary, he showed extraordinary concern and love to them. Therefore, his humanity principle is both the foundation of his philosophy and criteria of his behavior. 

This humanity principle was carried forward continuously by his disciples. One of his disciples Zixia said, "all people on the earth are brothers, why should a gentleman worry about shortage of brothers?" Mencius later related this loving -heart spirit as " respect my own elders and extend this respect to the other's elders, love my own youngsters and extend this love to the other's youngsters." During the past thousands of years, this universal love spirit has permeated into the cultural tradition of the nation, become life-maxims known to everybody. These maxims went down through history, and finally came to be Dr. Sun Yet-Sen's slogan UNIVERSAL LOVE. In modern life, it is this slogan that acts as an idea bridge leading to exchange with the world. 

The theoretical basis of this humanity philosophy was...
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