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Confucius

551 479 B.C.

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Life
In the 5th century BC, at approximately the
same period when Socrates was making a
name for himself in the philosophical world of
the Greek City and Gautama, the Buddhas
spiritual restlessness, was moving traditional
Hinduism away from its religious mooring,
Confucius in China started serious attempts at
raising multifarious philosophical problems.

Life
One of these problems is of human being.
Unlike Gautama Buddhas and Lao Tzus beliefs
on human beings, Confucius asserts that
though a human being is just a dot in the
universe, he lives in accordance with the
NATURAL LAW that governs and guides the
movements of all things.

Life
Confucius is the Latinized form of this
philosopher which means Kung-fu-tse or
master kung. Born in what is now called the
province of Shantung of a noble family,
Confucius was three years old when his father
died.

Life
There is nothing extraordinary about his life;
married at 19, a teacher at 22, and settled in
Shantung after some years of teaching and
travel. At 52, he was appointed as a governor
of a province but went into voluntary exile
after the neighboring governor became
jealous of him. Confucius wandered about 13
years then returned to his native state at 69
and died three years later.

Life
Confucius laid no claim on being more than a
man. However, when he died, he was revered
almost a god. Temples were erected in his honor
in every state of China. His grace at Kufow in
Shantung province became a place of pilgrimage.
A temple of Confucius stands at every town and
village in China. Ever child commits his precepts
to memory from the tender age, and each year at
the royal university in Peking the Emperor holds a
festival in honor of the illustrious teacher.

CONFUCIANISMS TEACHING ON MAN


Confucius, the great Chinese philosopher who
founded Confucianism, stresses that man
should harmonize himself with nature. This
harmony should be expressed actively through
mans translation of the innate laws of nature
into action.

Five Innate Laws of Nature

Jen

Yi
Li

Zhong
Xiao

Jen
Jen for Confucius means human-heartedness.
It is a basic virtue that ought to be nurtured by
every person. Such should be the case since
Jen also means love, benevolence, or charity.
Jen can help man develop his social concerns
and engagements rather than keeping man in
the ambit of egoism.

Jen
This is the reason why Confucius says that
human-heartedness means loving others. In
this regard, Jen means loving people and
controlling ones egoistic leanings. This makes
Confucius draw an inference that Jen is rooted
in the principle: Do not do to others what
you yourself do not desire.

Yi
Yi means righteousness. Viewed in the
context of righteousness, Yi refers to
oughtness or to the rightness of an action in
a given situation.
In Confucianism, doing what ought to be
done requires no compensation. This
explains why one-should-do-the-right-forthe-sake-of-nothing dictum is maintained in
Confucianism.

Yi
Thus, the consequences of the act is not given
importance in Confucianism but the motive,
i.e. righteousness.

Zhong
It means conscientiousness. Zhong however
does not stand alone; it is juxtaposed with Shu
(altruism). Conscientiousness and altruism, as
two distinct virtues, are considered in
Confucianism as the two ways of practice of
human-heartedness or Jen.
Thus, to practice Jen, one should be
conscientious and altruistic.

Li
The fourth innate law of nature is Li which means
propriety.
Understood as propriety, Li pertains to the rule of
conduct that reflects a persons good will. Li,
therefore, means doing things the right way. The
importance of Li is seen in its distinctive
characteristic feature as the principle that orders.
It is responsible to the formation of mans
manners, behaviors, and conduct.

Xiao
It means filial piety. Construed as filial piety,
Xiao means respect, reverence, and honor to
ones parents (including blood relatives, or the
family members as a whole).
Xiao refers to the authentic concern for ones
parents welfare, both spiritual and emotional.
Confucius, indeed, pays deep regard for parents.
To him, it is ones obligation to fulfill ones
parents unfulfilled dreams after they die.

Confucian Idea of Superman


Confucius teaches that every person become
the gentleman or the superior man (Daren),
the person who lives in moral rectitude and
high pitch of moral standards. The Daren, in
contrast to the Xiaoren (the one who is not
morally upright, because his life is governed
by law, not by virtue), is the man who
uncovers the innate laws of nature by living
them.

Confucian Idea of Superman


The Xiaoren, however, may not indulge in
immoral acts, but such choice is a product of
the mandates of the law not according to the
promptings of his innate and free choice. The
Xiaoren will exhibit its evil inclinations.
To Confucius, the Daren is the virtuous man--the man who practices Jen, Yi, Zhong, Li, and
Xiao.

Confucian Idea of Superman


The Daren is a person who cannot, does not,
and will not commit immoral acts because his
life is lived in the context of his stature, i.e. as
a superior man. As a whole, the Daren
regulates himself according to the injunctions
of the Golden Rule, to wit: Do not do unto
others what you dont want others do unto
you.

Confucianism is not really a Religion


Though Confucianism is called a religion, it is
rather a system of ethics or good conduct.
Confucius did not teach about any god, rather
his attention was centered on making
humanity better in this life, and his analects
are wise sayings similar to the Proverbs in the
Bible.

Confucianism is not really a Religion


Throughout Confucius writings he has not
even mentioned the name of God. He
declined to discuss the question of
immortality. When he was asked about
spiritual beings, he remarked, If we cannot
even know men, how can we know spirits?

Confucianism
Confucianism asserts that being part of nature,
human beings live in accordance with the natural
law that governs and guides the movement of all
things.
This natural law enjoins human beings to live
righteously, to offend no one, and to give each
one his due. In a typically Confucian attitude of
Harmony, it is said that the fulfillment of ones
nature is realized only in the context of a deep
respect for the individual.

One cannot just lose ones self in the affairs of


society to the point of totally neglecting ones
own interest. Ones social nature cannot and
must not conflict with ones nature as an
individual. In as much the way as a human
being owes it to society to contribute to the
attainment of the social good, he likewise
owes it to himself to work for the attainment
of the objects of his individual interests.
Confucius stresses human beings role as
master of nature and his duty to bring nature
to serve his ends.

END.