Confucius The life of the great teacher and philosopher of China,Confucius was hard for him because his father died when he was only three and he lived with his father’s second wife.He was born 551 B.C. and died 479 B.C.When he was alive he was a great influence on China and it’s ways of life.He was born into a noble famliy and was noble to everyone who asked for something of him and it was either teaching or a task he would do it if it was right. When Confucius was born he had another name,his real name was Chung-ni.He was married at the age of 19 and had one son and two daughters and his mother died at 527 B.C.Confucius in his late life,saidAt,15 I set my heart on learning.At 30,I was firmly established.At 40 I had no more doubts.At 50 I knew the will of Heaven.At 60 I was ready to listen to it.At 70,I could follow my heart’s desire without transgressing what is right.When Confucius grew he was at a unusual height and people called him long fellow. Confucius had at least 3,000 pupils and 72 of them mastered the 6 arts – rituals,music ,archery,charioteering,literature and mathematics. People used to think he was a superior man of wisdom.He also urged a system of morality and statecraft that would preserve peace and provide people with stable and just governments. Philosophy.
Confucius Confucius Confucianism was the most important thing in Chinese life, but who was Confucius the person? Before the respected philosopher Confucius was born, China was constantly in a state of war. The teachings of Confucius helped to reform China. Confucius lived a long and prosperous life, he was self-taught but spread his wisdom to many, and he was very influential in politics even though he never held a major government position. Confucius was born in 551 B.C., in the state of Lu (modern day Shadong or Shantung Province), into a low aristocratic family. His parents died when he was very young and left him to take care of his older brother who was crippled.
He was given the birth name Kong Qui. Confucius comes from the Latin word Kongfuzi, which means Great Master Kong. He married at age nineteen and had two children, a son and a daughter. He was very much a family man though he did travel a lot. Confucius loved music, and when he traveled to a neighboring state of Lu, he became so absorbed in it that he forgot to eat. Confucius was a large man of great physical strength.
His last couple years of life were probably bitter due to a number of deaths of his close associates. He died in 479 B.C. at the age of 72. Confucius was for the most part self-taught, although he was not too proud to learn from people inferior to him. At age 15 he set his mind on learning.
He derived his learning from the first Chou kings Wen and Wu. He claimed that he wasnt born with his knowledge, which exemplifies his pursuit of wisdom. At age 20, he became a teacher. He traveled widely, gaining disciples who are responsible for writing down his sayings and ideas in the analects. His teaching stressed the importance of traditional relations of filial piety and brotherly respect.
He was for the most part supported by his students though he may have received some form of pay from the government. He never refused to teach anyone, no matter how poor they were. Confucius is the first known professional teacher in Chinese history. He spent his life not only preparing himself for government positions, but also preparing his students. Several of his disciples went on to hold key positions in the government.
In addition to teaching, Confucius spent much of his time on classics such as poetry and music. Confucius was a large believer that things should be based on virtue, and not on blood. Confucius dream was to have a position as advisor to a wise ruler, but never accomplished this. He held several minor governments positions throughout his life. He held these positions only for short periods of time due to conflicts with his superiors.
He went to place to place offering advice to many Chinese rulers. If they didnt take his advice, he would move on to the next place saying that he was not going to force anyone to take his advice. At age sixty-seven, Confucius returned to his native state, but his advice was not regarded there. Jan Chiu (a former disciple of Confucius) asked him his opinion about raising taxes, and he said to do what was in favor of the people. When Jan Chiu went ahead and raised the taxes anyway, Confucius denied him as one of his disciples. Confucius was often asked war advice, and he would say that though he had some knowledge of sacrificial vessels, he had not studied warfare, and therefore he could not help.
At old age, Confucius was disappointed because he never got to participate fully in government, and he said, As far as taking trouble goes, I do not think I compare badly with other people. But as regards carrying out the duties of a gentleman in actual life, I have never yet had a chance to show what I could do. Confucius was one of the most influential people in Chinese and world history. His knowledge is still regarded to this very day. Confucius changed everything in China, including education, government, and attitudes toward behavior in public and private life. If Confucius had never lived, the modern world of today may have been completely different.
.. i, that the people would correct their behavior by their own initiative. In the Analects, Confucius said, Lead the people with legal measures and regulate them by punishment, and they will avoid wrongdoing but will have no sense of honor and shame. Lead them with the power of virtuous example and regulate them by the rules of li, and they will have a sense of shame and will thus rectify themselves. (Analects 2.3) Confucius sought to create an environment in which people would naturally be harmonious and thus virtuous. He believed that harmony was an unavoidable result of li, because li was a perfect reflection of cosmic order.
From a Confucian perspective, any land that acted according to li was civilized, and any land that did not was not civilized. This idea was even expanded to claim that a in populace that did not abide by li, the people were not fully human, in the sense that they had no means of realizing the full potential of humanity, called ren. Another important aspect of Confucianism was an ideal known as chun-tzu, which is contemporarily defined as superior man or true gentleman. Confucius likely envisioned this concept due to his struggles against the resolute privileges of the feudal hereditary aristocracy of his day. Confucius saw many of the aristocracy using their political power to protect their own wealth and status, which he saw as a gross distortion of the proper order.
The superior man of Confucian thought was a man honored for individual merit and character, which were derived from meticulous adherence to the Way of the ancients. The chun-tzu was embodied in a man who was above egotism, a man who thoroughly understood li, and a man of ren, altruistic and humane. Confucian thought continued to flourish and develop in China, even long after the death of Confucius himself. Around the tenth century a great revival of Confucianism spread across China, triggered by two philosopher brothers, Cheng Hao and Cheng Yi. They ignited the spark that would lead to Neo-Confucianism with their highly respected commentaries on the Confucian classics. Neo-Confucianism blended the old Confucian way with Buddhism, which had a significant following in China. From old Confucianism it derived an emphasis on moral principals, proper order, rule governed behavior and harmonious human relationships.
But these ideas were filtered through a Buddhist perspective, creating the notion that all thought, ordinary experience, and performance of rituals are based on a single, absolute ultimate reality. This absolute was called Li, though had a completely different meaning than the original use of this word. In the Neo-Confucian outlook, Li comprises the ideas of reason, principle and order. This was the fundamental principle that governed the thought of the Neo-Confucian, it became a metaphysical entity to them; Li was reality itself. Along with this newfound fixation with the absolute, Neo-Confucians also developed a clear definition of the most important Confucian virtues, called the five moral principals.
Ju Xi, a prominent Neo-Confucian philosopher said, Man’s original nature is pure and tranquil. Before it is aroused, the five moral principals of his nature, called humanity, righteousness, propriety, wisdom and faithfulness, are complete. As his physical form appears, it comes into contact with external tings and is aroused from within. As it is aroused from within, the seven feelings, called pleasure, anger, sorrow, joy, love, hate and desire, ensue. As feelings become strong and increasingly reckless, his nature becomes damaged. For this reason the enlightened person controls his feelings so that they will be in accord with the Mean.
He rectifies his mind and nourishes his nature. (Ibid 2.3) According to this train of thought, emotions are grounded in Li, the absolute, and are stimulated by the activities of everyday life. By nature the emotions, even anger and hate, are not considered bad. But when the emotions become over stimulated, a disparity may appear between one’s inner essential nature and ones outer, conscious life. When this takes place, one’s actions will no longer be in accordance with the Principal and disharmony will persist unbridled.
In addition to Neo-Confucianism’s emphasis on emotional control, the old moral and political stance of Confucius was held to be paramount. Respecting the ancient knowledge in the true Confucian manner, Neo-Confucianism continued to emphasize the regulation of public and private lives. Everything was to be kept in its proper place, and ritualized social patterns prevailed. Enacting a firmly regulated social life was inner harmony and the direct experience of the ultimate Li. Confucianism almost exclusively regulated the social and political structure of China from the eleventh century through the nineteenth. Much can be ascertained about China by studying this phenomenon.
Confucianism was always an elite tradition, and it generally did not appeal greatly to the masses. For this reason, in Confucian ruled China, few attempts were made to root out and dissolve other religious practices and institutions. Although this could have likely been done without excessive effort, the original Confucian stance of rule-by-example was strictly adhered to. Thus the Confucian attitude toward Daoist, Buddhist and folk religious practices was one of bemused toleration. It only catalyzed into active persecution if one of the groups entered a position were it was a threat to political stability.
Confucianism held its elated position in China through intense promotion of Confucian institutions acting on the state, village, occupational guild and family level. At the state level, Confucian practices and many groups were strictly adherent to rituals. The educated elite, intellectuals and office holders were often devout supporters of Confucian structure. Twice a year government officials gathered at Confucian temples to practice determined rituals. These rituals were quite important, serving to show the officials’ loyalty to the state and their loyalty to the ideas of chun-tzu, the superior man.
In the Imperial court, there was also an intense devotion to Confucian rituals. The emperor himself played a vital role in most of these practices, symbolically acting on behalf of the entire Chinese nation. Throughout the entire record of Chinese history as we know it today, few things remained constant. Yet because of the extent at which Confucianism was integrated into Chinese society, politics and daily life, it stayed invariable for many hundreds of years. Confucian thought played a dominant role in the gradual development and evolution of a society.
Even though dramatic changes have reshaped China in the recent history, it seems like many Confucian attitudes and ideas must still influence the way Chinese think and live. Few factors could have helped to shape the Chinese character more dramatically. It is for this reason that I see Confucianism as a valuable tool for developing a lucid and precise understanding of China. To understand Confucianism similar to understanding the manner in which a river helps to shape a canyon. Confucianism holds many direct contrasts to the majority of western the philosophies that I have experienced.
Understanding this has helped me bridge the cultural and philosophical gap between China and the West that has hindered my comprehension in the past. Bibliography Wright, Arthur F. Confucianism and Chinese Civilization. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1975. Dawson, Raymond. Confucius.
New York: Hill and Wang, 1982. Paley, Alan L. Confucius: Ancient Chinese Philosopher. Charlotteville: SamHar Press, 1973.