Confucianism

clip image001 thumb Confucianism Confucianism, a majoy system of thought in China, developed from the teachings of Confucius and his disciples. Confucianism is concerned with principles for good conduct, practical wisdom, and proper social relationships. Confucianism has influenced Chinese attitudes towards life, set patterns for living and defined standards and social values, while providing the background for Chinese political theories and institutions. After spreading out from China, Confucianism has found its popularity in Korea, Japan and many other south east Asian countries.

The principles of Confucianism are contained in nine ancient Chinese works handed down by Confucius and his followers, who lived in an age of philosophical activity. The writings are divided into two groups: the Five Classics and the Four Books. The keynote of Confucian is ethics is Ren, variously translated as “love” ,”benevolence”, “humanity”, and “human-heartedness”. Ren is a supreme virtue representing human qualities at their best. In human relations, Ren is manifested in Zhong, or faithfulness to oneself and others, and Shu or altruism, best expressed in the Confucian golden rule—“Do not do to others what you do not want done to yourself”. Other important Confucian virtues include righteousness, propriety, integrity and filial piety. One who possesses all these virtues becomes a Junzi.(perfect gentlemen).

clip image002 thumb4 Confucianism After the death of Confucius, the two majoy schools of Confucian thought emerged: one was represented by Mencius ant the other by Xunzi.

Mencius continued the ethical teachings of Confucius, stressing the innate goodness of human nature. He believed, however, that human goodness could become depraved through one’s own destructive efforts or through contact with external evil factors. The challenge facing those seeking moral cultivation is therefore to preserve or at least to restore the goodness that is one’s birthright. In political thought, Mencius is sometimes considered one of the early advocates of democracy, for he advanced the idea of the people’s supremacy in the state.

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