The Human Problem as seen in Confucianism

Topics: Confucius, Confucianism, Human Pages: 2 (628 words) Published: January 22, 2014

The Human Problem and the Solution to that Problem

At its most basic, chaos/disharmony is the problem and order/harmony is the solution. A belief in Confucianism is that man is basically good, but can be stunted through negative environmental influence or neglect, and therefore must be cultivated as a garden through ritual and disciplines about one’s qi. Problems inevitably arise in human life, but they themselves are capable of promoting learning and growth. “A mistake is not a ‘sin’, but an opportunity to learn and do better next time” (Richey). The concept of Tian, or the supreme power that rules over inferior gods and over human beings, is thought to be the source of legitimate moral and political authority. "Tian does not speak -- it simply reveals through deeds and affairs" (Mengzi). Mengzi, a Confucian sage, attributes many of the virtues found in Confucianism to Tian and explicitly compares the rule of the moral king to the rule of Tian. When human beings fail to behave morally or put Tian's moral will into practice, this does not convince Mengzi that Tian is weak or amoral. Moral failure and even great evils are reminders of how important human beings are in the moral scheme of the universe. Earthquakes become opportunities to scrutinize the moral dealings of one's rulers; famines become pretexts for political dissent and even regime change. “The dependence of Tian upon human agents to put its will into practice helps account for the emphasis Mengzi places on the satisfaction of the people as an indicator of the ruler's moral right to power, and on the responsibility of morally-minded ministers to depose an unworthy ruler” (Richey).

Social order was one of the main tenets of Confucianism; therefore it should come as no surprise that Confucius believed that the problems of his time were caused by the collapse of said order. “Confucius believed that societies in antiquity…were held together in harmony because people in general lived according to...

Cited: Chan, Wing-tsit (translated and compiled). A Source Book in Chinese Philosophy. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1963.
Matthews, Alfred Warren. World Religions. St. Paul, MN: West Pub., 1991. Print.
MengTzu. "Concise Answers about Confucianism - Confucianism - Beliefnet Community." Beliefnet. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 May 2013.
Richey, Jeffery. "Confucianism." Suffering and the Problem of Evil. Patheos Library, n.d. Web. 07 May 2013.
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