Ata time when Socrates and Aeschylus were in their expansivephilosophical empowerment of the Greek intellects, while at the sametime Prophet Zechariah and Haggai were influencing Jews to return toJerusalem, China was witnessing the birth of a new philosophy inplace. The philosophy of ethical humanism as professionalized byConfucius was based on two main pillars Jen and Li (Philosophylander.edu, ‘Oriental Philosophy’). The two concepts ofConfucianism primary concern was on developing the aspects ofholistic human-heartedness, or benevolence and social order,respectively. These two principles were what defined the father ofmodern Chinese culture, Confucius in his educational and politicalemancipation of the warlords that terrorized old Chinese peasantlivelihood. He believed that the ‘princes’ could one day changetheir lives and look at society in a different manner as opposed tothe oppressive way they conquered nations and villages in old Chinesedynasties (All about Philosophy, ‘Life of Confucius’). Thecurrent paper, therefore, aims to extrapolate on the life andachievements of Confucius in his life within ancient China towardshis ideas on Confucianism.
Onecan never understand Confucianism without getting to know the mainprinciples that govern the philosophy. According to Confucius, thetwo most important concepts that guide the philosophy are Jenand Li.Jen refers to the spirit of humanity or being good to one another.The other principle looks at the social order of things in society orrather propriety. People need to understand that every action they doaffect someone else. Other than Jenand Lihe deduced the concept of Yi.In this one, he said that every human has the moral disposition tobehave and do well to one another. At this point, the idea ofrighteousness as that expressed in Kant’s philosophy of ethics waswell expressed in the opinion. Others are Hsiaowhich locates meaning to reverence or filial piety. For instance, inthe five relationships, children ought to obey their parents becausethey sacrificed so much for them. The beginnings of Jen are found inrespect or family life or Hsiao.
Theother concept was Chihwhich he explained as that moral wisdom which people posses forknowing right from wrong. The other idea in Confucianism is Chun-Tzuwhich refers to an ideal man or the gentleman. Finally, was the ideaof Tewhich, relates to the power by which men are always ruled. In this,he believed that the government could be right if it sustains,economic, and military sufficiency and also the confidence of itspeople. In all these concepts the philosophy of Confucianismexpounded.
Confuciuswas born in the year 551 BC from a low-income family in the east partof northern China called Lu.His original name was K’ungCh’iu,and in his teenage life, he had an administrative position with somelocal noble in his hometown where he managed agricultural accounts.It is believed that his passion for ethical philosophy started todevelop during his service years. In his adult life, he began movingaround China teaching the warlords about his philosophy, hoping thatthey could change China from the feudal militaristic system topeaceful and virtuous one.
Hebelieved that the `princes` of China should not be controlled by theegos, desire for power and oversight but through selflessness for thepeople because a higher being offered them those positions. Instead,he was rejected, and that is why he returned to his hometown andstarted to teach to the oppressed the ideas of his philosophy in hisfree school. He taught leadership, history, psychology, ethics andeven arts, in the school. He was able to train young men to take upleadership positions in government and by that he transformed Chinacompletely through education and ethics. Politics was a mechanism tochange China through philosophy and by 478 BC he was regarded as thegreatest alongside Buddha (All about Philosophy, ‘Life ofConfucius’).
Achievementsto Society and Life
Bybeing rejected by entrenched warlords, he decided to focus on hiseducational career by winning the hearts of the oppressed peoplewherever he went. He made many disciples, and although he continuedon this path till his death, his political career never saw the lightof the day. The warlords continued in the feudal nature by heavilytaxing peasants and this never impressed him at any given moment.That is why he trained the youth to take up leadership positions ingovernment in the humanistic way leading to the birth of modernChina.
Inhis home return, Confucius became an educationalist. As Fung (p.48)points out, Confucius was the first man in the history of China tomake the art of teaching profession. In doing so, he popularizedChinese culture and education, and this opened the way for theseveral succeeding scholars as well as philosophers who camecenturies later.
Besides,the class of gentleman was inaugurated and developed by the samephilosopher in the history of the Chinese world. According to him, hesaw no reason for withholding instructions to a warlord, a farmer, amerchant or even to an actual government official (Fung 49). Hisideas on humanity and benefit defined the culture of China in theirappreciation of nature and the other beings.
Confucianismis believed to have started by the teachings of Confucius on themeaning of humanity and benefit for all. He thought politics couldtransform China and that is why he trained young men to take uppositions in government and lead in ethical and humanistic manner.His works rate him higher as those done by Socrates in the “Allegoryof the Cave” and what prophets Zechariah and Haggai did for theJews in the Bible. China owes its intellectual wisdom culture to theworks of a poor peasant called Confucius.
Allabout Philosophy. Lifeof Confucius.Allaboutphilisohy.org, 2017,www.allaboutphilosophy.org/life-of-confucius.htm. Accessed 31stMarch 2017.
Fung,You-lan. AHistory of Chinese Philosophy, Volume 1-From the beginnings to Circa 100B.C.Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1983. Print.
PhilosophyLander.edu. Philosophy312: Oriental Philosophy Main Concepts of Confucianism.P.l.e, (nd), philosophy.lander.edu/oriental/main.html.Accessed 31st March 2017.