Confucius represented his teachings as lessons transmitted from antiquity. He claimed that he was “a transmitter and not a maker” and that all he did reflected his “reliance on and love for the ancients.” (Lunyu 7.1)
Confucius was born, about 500 B.C., at the period there was no central government in China . It was more like a feudal society. A king or lord had a castle and everybody else in that castle worked for the lord and were his slaves. The king was responsible for their livelihood. Confucius himself supposedly was born into a noble family, but the nobility lost their wealth and prestige so he grew up poor. He learned on his own, because in those days there were no learning centers or universities. Confucius traveled to different kingdoms and had disciples. Confucius promoted the idea that people ought to get together to have an orderly society, to be devoted to the people so that everyone can have a better life. He was trying to convince the leaders of those little kingdoms that they should not with narrow vision just concentrate all their own wealth in a little city. He taught that one king ought to talk with his neighbor, not to fight him, but to reason with him Confucius’ ideas left a very deep mark on society because it worked for progressive evolvement. Later on, it became the only system that was adopted by the Han Dynasty.
Confucius was a famous thinker and social philosopher of China, whose teachings have deeply influenced East Asia for centuries. Living in the Spring and Autumn period (a time when feudal states fought against each other), he was convinced of his ability to restore the world’s order, though failed. After much traveling around China to promote his ideas among rulers, he eventually became involved in teaching disciples. His philosophy emphasized personal and governmental morality, correctness of social relationships, and justice and sincerity. Used since then as the imperial orthodoxy, Confucius’ thoughts have been developed into a vast and complete philosophical system known in the west as Confucianism
The root of the teachings of Confucius is that there are things you must have in order for a stable, developing, flourishing civilized society to survive. These are called golden rules and it turns out that every major religion in the world has the same set of golden rules. One need not be a super being or supernatural being to know this. These are the unspoken rules or universal rules that each civilization at certain times will realize because they are fundamental.
The Analects is a short collection of his discussions with disciples, compiled posthumously. These contain an overview of his teachings. Confucius presents himself as a transmitter who invented nothing and his greatest emphasis may be on study, the Chinese character that opens the book. In this respect, he is seen by Chinese people as the Greatest Master. Far from trying to build a systematic theory of life and society, he wanted his disciples to think deeply for themselves and relentlessly study the outside world. For almost two thousand years, Analects had also been the fundamental course of study for any Chinese scholar, for a man was not considered morally upright or enlightened if he did not study Confucius’ works
Confucius believe that self-restraint is very difficult ; biologically the human nature is not designed for self-restraint. So Confucius try to give people a sociological reason to have self-restraint., he says that you should not kill people because you are a member of society, and the person that you kill is also a member of society, and society belongs to all the people. It is not just your society; you are not the society, you are part of society, and the other person is also part of society. Therefore, you two should get together and stop killing each other. The end result is to achieve a stable, peaceful, harmonious society.
While Confucius’ system is termed a religion, it ought rather to be regarded as a method of political and social life, built upon a slight foundation of philosophy. It contains no trace of a personal God, though there are indeed a number of allusions to a certain heavenly agency or power, Shang-te, whose outward emblem is Tien, or the visible firmament. Because of this similarity, people think of Confucianism as a religion, but it is more a practical philosophy that deals with people and practical things. It does not rely on an image of the supernatural. Confucius says that if you can understand the real meaning of society, the people-to-people relationship, you don’t need all that, you already know how you’re supposed to behave. In other words, you are already behaving according to the commandments, you are already practicing what you preach, you are helping other people whenever you can, you don’t let your greed go rampant.
In Confucius thoughts we shall not find a system of philosophy ,a consistent structure of logic ,metaphysics ,ethics and politics dominated by one idea
Famous throughout the world as a Chinese thinker and social philosopher, Confucius laid great emphasis on personal and governmental morality. He believed in the rightness of social relationships, fairness and honesty. Is virtue a thing remote? I wish to be virtuous, and lo! Virtue is at hand. (Confucius, Analects With time, his way of thought came to be developed into a system of philosophy, known as Confucianism, which had a deep influence on Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Taiwanese and Vietnamese thought and life. It was Italian Jesuit Matteo Ricci who introduced Confucianism to Europe and gradually, it spread to the rest of the world as well.
Confucius’ philosophy was predominately a moral and political one. It was founded on the belief that heaven and earth coexist in harmony and balanced strength whilst maintaining a perpetual dynamism. Human beings, he taught, are sustained by these conditions and must strive to emulate the cosmic model.
Since his dominating passion was the application of philosophy to conduct and government , Confucius avoided metaphysics ,and tried to turn the minds of his followers from all recondite or celestial concerns. Though he made occasional mention of Heaven and prayer , and counseled his disciples to observe sedulously the traditional rites of ancestor worship and national sacrifice, he was so negative in his answers to theological questions that modern commentators agree in calling him an agnostic. When Tsze-kung asked him ,’’Do the dead have knowledge ,or are they without knowledge ? Confucius refused to make any definite reply .When Ke Loo asked about ‘serving the spirits”(of the dead ),the master responded “While you are not able to serve men, how can you serve their spirits?” Ke Loo asked “I venture to ask about death ?”and was answered “While you do not know life how can you know about death ? When Fan Che inquired “what constituted wisdom ? “ Confucius said “To give one ‘s self earnestly to the duties due to men and while respecting spiritual beings ,to keep aloof from them , may be called wisdom. His disciples tell us that the subjects on which the master did not talk were extraordinary things ,feats of strength ,disorder, and spiritual beings . They were much disturbed by this philosophic modesty, and doubtless wished that the master would solve for them the mysteries of heaven the book of lieb- tze tells with glee the fable of the street urchin who ridiculed the master when he confessed his inability to answer their simple question- Is the sun nearer to the earth at dawn ,when it is larger ,or at noon, when it hotter ? The only metaphysics that Confucius would recognize was the search for unity in all phenomena , and the effort to find some stabilizing harmony between the laws of right conduct and the regularities of nature .Tsze he said to one of his favorites, you think , I suppose that I am one who learns many things and keeps them in his memory ? Tsze-kung replied, ‘’Yes but perhaps it is not so? No was the answer; I seek unity , all pervading .This after all , is the essence of philosophy.
His master passion was for morality. I have not seen a person who loved virtue, or one who hated what was not virtuous. He who loved virtue would esteem nothing above it.(Confucius, Analects The chaos of his time seemed to him a moral chaos ,caused perhaps by the weakening of the ancient faith and the spread of sophist skepticism as to right and wrong ;it was to be cured not by a return to the old beliefs , but by an earnest search for more complete knowledge , and a moral regeneration based upon a soundly regulated family life .T he Confucian program is expressed pithily and profoundly in the famous paragraphs of The Great Learning Another saying of Confucius is well known: Do not do to others what you would not have them do to you. My interpretation of this is uniform terms for equal justice. This next one is very great: Great man sets good examples then he invites others to follow. In today’s language we say do as I do.
Confucius taught the of reasoning not through rules or syllogisms but by perpetual play of his keen mind upon the opinions of his pupils; when they went out from his school they knew nothing about logic , but they could think clearly and to the point. Learning without thought is labor lost; thought without learning is perilous. (Confucius, Analects Clarity and honesty of thought and expression were first lessons of the Master. The whole end of speech is to be understood –a lesson not always remembered by philosophy , When you know a thing , to hold that you know it and when you do not , to admit the fact – this is knowledge . Obscurity of thought and insincere inaccuracy of speech seemed to him national calamities. If a prince who was not in actual fact and power a prince should cease to be called a prince , if a father who was not a fatherly father should cease to be called a father , if an unofficial son should cease to be called a son –then men might be stirred to reform abuses too often covered up with words. Hence when Tsze-Ioo told Confucius, The prince of Wei has been waiting for you , in order with you to administer the government ; what will you consider the first thing to be done ? he answered to the astonishment of prince and pupil , What is necessary is to rectify names.
The ancients who wished to illustrate the highest virtue throughout the empire first ordered well their own states .Wishing to order well their states , they first regulated their families .Wishing to regulate their families ,,they cultivated their own selves . Wishing to cultivate their own selves , they first rectified their hearts Wishing to rectify their hearts , they first sought to be sincere in their thoughts. Wishing to be sincere in their thoughts ,they first extended to the utmost their knowledge .Such extension of knowledge lay in the investigation of things .Things being investigated knowledge became complete. Their knowledge being complete , their thoughts were sincere. Their thoughts being sincere hearts were then rectified .Their hearts being rectified ,their own selves were cultivated . their own selves being cultivated , their families were regulated .their families being regulated, their states were rightly governed. Their states being rightly governed, the whole empire was made tranquil and happy .
Confucius believed that doing the wrong thing is instinctive, and doing the right thing needs to be taught, he emphasized education. The purpose of education is to cultivate moral values in people’s minds and to encourage people to do the right thing. Only through education can people in society learn to live with each other in peace and harmony and support and help each other for the benefit of all, creating social prosperity and happiness. The teachings of Confucius are embodied in the Four Books and Five Classics. The Four Books are the Great Learning, the Doctrine of Mean, the Analects, and Mencius. The Five Classics are Shu Ching, a political vision; Shih Ching, a poetic vision; I-Ching, the Book of Change; Li Chi, a social vision; and Chun Chiu, a historical vision. An easier way to understand Confucianism is to study the Sayings of Confucius, one liners or short stories which depict his beliefs. When a sufficient number of these are taken together, there emerges the essence of Confucianism.
A hallmark of Confucius’ thought is his emphasis on education. He disparages those who have faith in natural understanding or intuition and argues that the only real understanding of a subject comes from long and careful study. Study, for Confucius, means finding a good teacher and imitating his words and deeds.
This reflects the idea that there is experience, learning experience, that the future (younger) generation can adopt. This whole idea is also called ancestor worship. A lot of people may have misinterpreted ancestor worship as a worship of statues or images, which is true in part. But the other part is the so-called worship of ancestors is really trying to understand your own tradition. The tradition is based on certain unique experiences of your fathers or great grandfathers. It does not come up from nowhere. It comes up because of some past event, so it has a reason; therefore there is a lesson in there. That’s the reason why you try to remember the tradition.
A good teacher is someone older who is familiar with the ways of the past and the practices of the ancients. Study the past if you would define the future. I am not one who was born in the possession of knowledge; I am one who is fond of antiquity, and earnest in seeking it there.Learning without thought is labor lost; thought without learning is perilous. (Confucius, Analects)
While he sometimes warns against excessive reflection and meditation, Confucius’ position appears to be a middle course between studying and reflecting on what one has learned. “He who learns but does not think is lost. He who thinks but does not learn is in great danger.” (Lunyu 2.15) Confucius, himself, is credited by the tradition with having taught altogether three thousand students, though only seventy are said to have truly mastered the arts he cherished. Confucius is willing to teach anyone, whatever their social standing, as long as they are eager and tireless. He taught his students morality, proper speech, government, and the refined arts. While he also emphasizes the “Six Arts” — ritual, music, archery, chariot-riding, calligraphy, and computation — it is clear that he regards morality the most important subject. Confucius’ pedagogical methods are striking. He never discourses at length on a subject. Instead he poses questions, cites passages from the classics, or uses apt analogies, and waits for his students to arrive at the right answers. “I only instruct the eager and enlighten the fervent. If I hold up one corner and a student cannot come back to me with the other three, I do not go on with the lesson.” (Lunyu 7.8).
Confucius’ goal is to create gentlemen who carry themselves with grace, speak correctly, and demonstrate integrity in all things. His strong dislike of the sycophantic “petty men,” whose clever talk and pretentious manner win them an audience, is reflected in numerous Lunyu passages. Confucius finds himself in an age in which values are out of joint. Actions and behavior no longer correspond to the labels originally attached to them. “Rulers do not rule and subjects do not serve,” he observes. (Lunyu 12.11; cf. also 13.3) This means that words and titles no longer mean what they once did. Moral education is important to Confucius because it is the means by which one can rectify this situation and restore meaning to language and values to society. He believes that the most important lessons for obtaining such a moral education are to be found in the canonical Book of Songs, because many of its poems are both beautiful and good. Thus Confucius places the text first in his curriculum and frequently quotes and explains its lines of verse. For this reason, the Lunyu is also an important source for Confucius’ understanding of the role poetry and art more generally play in the moral education of gentlemen as well as in the reformation of society. Recent archaeological discoveries in China of previously lost ancient manuscripts reveal other aspects of Confucius’s reverence for the Book of Songs and its importance in moral education. These manuscripts show that Confucius had found in the canonical text valuable lessons on how to cultivate moral qualities in oneself as well as how to comport oneself humanely and responsibly in public.
This is the keynote and substance of the Confucian philosophy ; one might forget all other words of the Master and his disciples, and yet carry away with these ‘ the essence of the matter’ and a complete guide of life .The world is at war, says Confusions because it constituent states are improperly governed; these are improperly governed because no amount of legislation can take the place of of the natural social order provided by the family; the family is in disorder, and fails to regulate themselves because they have not rectified their hearts –i.e., they have not cleansed their own souls of disorderly desires; their hearts are not rectified because their thinking is insincere, doing scant justice to reality and concealing rather than revealing their own natures; their thinking is insincere because they let their wishes discolor the facts and determine their conclusions, instead of seeking to extend their knowledge to the utmost by impartially investigating the nature of things. Let men seek impartial knowledge, and their thinking will become sincere; let their thoughts be sincere and their hearts will be cleansed of disorderly desires; let their hearts be so cleansed, and their own selves will be regulated; let their own selves will be regulated, and their families will automatically be regulated – not by virtuous sermonizing or passionate punishments, but by silent power of example itself; let the family be so regulated with knowledge, sincerity and example itself; let the family be so regulated with knowledge, sincerity and example, and it will give forth such spontaneous social order that successful government will once more be a feasible thing; let the state maintain internal justice and tranquility, and all the world will be peaceful and happy.- It is a counsel of perfection, and forgets that man is a beast of prey; but it offers us a goal to strike at, and a ladder to climb. It is one of the golden texts of philosophy.
Confucianism has lasted for generations is because it understands the basic human nature on one hand and promotes necessary discipline and education on the other. The human nature is universal. Human nature consists of both good and bad. The good human nature includes kindness, charity, mutual respect, dignity, devotion, self responsibility, and so on. The bad human nature includes greed, domination, selfishness, destruction, waste, non-productivity, and so on. Unfortunately, the good nature is hard to keep. But It is not impossible, it can be cultivated, through the education process.. Our objective should be to enhance the good aspect of the human nature and contain the bad. The enhancement and the containment can only be accomplished by reasoning based on real human relationship, and by appropriate release of human energy and animal instinct in harmless and non-personal cooperative activities.A political culture based on responsibility and trust is politics with moral persuasion. The purpose of government is not only to provide food and maintain order but also to educate. A political culture based on responsibility and trust is politics with moral persuasion. The purpose of government is not only to provide food and maintain order but also to educate
Everything has its beauty but not everyone sees it. (Confucius)Forget injuries, never forget kindnesses. (Confucius)I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand. (Confucius)Ignorance is the night of the mind, but a night without moon and star. (Confucius)It does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop. (Confucius)Men’s natures are alike, it is their habits that carry them far apart. (Confucius)Respect yourself and others will respect you. (Confucius) Study the past if you would define the future. (Confucius) What the superior man seeks is in himself; what the small man seeks is in others. (Confucius)When anger rises, think of the consequences. (Confucius)When we see men of a contrary character, we should turn inwards and examine ourselves. (Confucius)Where so ever’s you go, go with all your heart. (Confucius)They must often change who would be constant in happiness or wisdom. (Confucius, Analects)
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