*In time, Daoism/Taoism and Legalism will find their pages*

Why would I start this section out with Confucianism? There are many other religions and philosophical belief systems that are much more popular. The reason is that Confucianism is a great place to start if one is going to undertake reading philosophy and theology.

As a young eighth-grader, I found Nietzsche almost impossible to understand. I couldn’t get on the right wavelength. So, I picked up The Analects, the main known work of Confucius. It can be had, in illustrated version, from Amazon for just a few bucks.

Their is a debate, each side with its legitimate points: Is Confucianism a religion or an ethical code?

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This way was conceived by a Chinese man: Confucius, or,
K’ung FuTzu. To this day, it significantly influences code of conduct in Asian culture. More so, and another reason to start with Confucianism, it has laid much of the groundwork for various religions and codes of conduct:

  • Christianity
  • Islam
  • Buddhism
  • Shintoism
  • Taoism
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Platonism and Confucianism both have some very similar aspects to Christianity.

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Here are most of the tenets of Confucianism, broken down

  1. Jen (Wren)
    1. Being good, benevolent, and distinctly humane
    2. The highest of virtues
    3. Both the reason to live, and a reason to sacrifice
    4. Effects dignity, self-esteem
    5. Propagate this virtue by showing it to fellow humans
  2. Li (Lee)
    1. Order, gain, benefit, human behavior designation
    2. Guide to human relationships
    3. Social and general order in things
    4. This order allows the practice of Jen
    5. First sense is the clear guide in relationships
      1. Harboring positivism
      2. Be open to one’s fellow human
        1. Tell things truthfully
        2. Act between extremes, in a middle manner
          1. This ethical pillar can be found in Buddhism, Aristotelian thought, Epicurianism, and many, many other belief systems
        3. Cultivate five relationships, emphasizing familial ones
          1. Father-son
            1. Reverence to father
          2. Older brother-younger brother
            1. Respect and gentleness
          3. Husband-wife
            1. Act nice and communicate well
          4. Older friend-younger friend
            1. Defer to one’s elder, be considerate in kindness
          5. Ruler-subject
            1. Treat citizens with care, respect one’s leader
    6. Second Sense is conformation to order and following the norms and rituals of society
      1. Any action one takes will affect another
      2. Everything in life ought to be subject to order
      3. If not knowing how to behave, don’t fake it
      4. Conduct yourself well to minimize life grievances
  3. Yi (Yee)
    1. Act in a righteous and moral manner
      1. Know what is right and what is wrong, given a circumstance
      2. Moral intuition
      3. Put forth a sort of impersonal ego, which will fit into the order of society
    2. Some actions are right in themselves, regardless of consequences
      1. A right action exists that doesn’t have to do with intention
      2. This is in contrast to Stoicism and Utilitarianism
      3. This is very analogous to Kant’s Practical Imperative
    3. Yi and Jen acts can be very similar
      1. Actions based on the right thing to do (Yi)
      2. Actions based on respect for humanity (Jen)
  4. Hsiao (Showe)
    1. Filial piety and looking up to one’s parents
    2. Parents have scarified and worked hard to bring up their children
    3. Honor the family, and bring honor to it
    4. Give physical, emotional, and spiritual support to one’s parents
    5. Fulfill their uncompleted goals after they die
    6. Jen can be found in Hsiao
      1. Extending reverence and respect to family and loved ones
      2. Respect based on bare reverence
  5. Chih (Chee), added by Mencius (muhn shoos)
    1. Know what is right, and what is wrong
    2. People are inherently good
    3. We know what is right and what is wrong inherently
    4. Confucius sees humans as animals that can act morally
    5. Mencius sees humans as moral animals
      1. Mencius explains how evil can exist, given that people are moral by default
        1. External circumstances of nature to survive
        2. Disarray of one’s culture makes morality not advantageous
        3. We don’t develop ourselves enough and lack the knowledge needed to act justly
  6. Chun-tzu (Choon dzuh)
    1. The most gentle, superior, ideal person possible
    2. They have no needs, are ready to help others, and will do so before any personal ambition
    3. They have intelligence that negates any worldly fears
    4. Not many can achieve this state of being
      1. Social relationships are paramount
      2. One’s impersonal ego carries with it the five virtues
        1. Kindness
        2. Rectitude
        3. Decorum
        4. Wisdom
        5. Sincerity
  7. Te (Day)
    1. Rule through power directed by ethics
    2. Serving as a beneficent ruler grants prestige
    3. Good government has three aspects
      1. Economic sufficiency
      2. Military sufficiency
      3. Confidence of the people
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  • Filial piety, or strong loyalty to father figures, and one’s own father
    • This is the most important relationship in the way
  • Otherwise be close to one’s family, and actively remember ones forefathers
    • Ancestors are to be honored in ritual
  • One has a distinct status in society
    • Oftentimes, one has little to know say in this status
  • One must commit to doing the best they can, based on what they are expected to fulfill
    • From the emperor to the poorest serf
  • The Silver Rule: just the same as The Golden Rule: Do unto others what you would have them do unto you
    • A clear instance of similarity to Christianity
  • Educate oneself
  • Strongly guide oneself to act along an ethical code that brings honor
    • This extends to one’s associates and family
  • Status is much more important than wealth
  • Again, fulfill one’s place among the whole
    • A good example of collectivism: see yourself as one part of a system that everyone around you endeavors to support, play your part in the whole
    • Counter to Individualism: choose your own destiny, live life according to your rules, and aspire to build the life you want

Over the years, other Confucian leaders, such as Mencius, have slightly altered the original philosophy, creating Neo-Confucianism, which does not differ significantly from the original worldview.

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Sources: https://philosophy.lander.edu/oriental/main.html, https://slideplayer.com/slide/9971019/, https://www.thefamouspeople.com/profiles/confucius-84.php