The Analects can be referred to as a collection of ideas and wise sayings that are related to Confucius, a Chinese philosopher and his followers. In the olden days, this work was considered a commentary on Five Classics but with time, its status encroached to become one of the major works of Confucianism. The philosopher, Confucius always had a strong belief that a countrys welfare always depended upon the cultivation of morals of her people, starting from the leadership of the country. He had a strong belief that people could start to develop a sense of virtue in Ren. The most fundamental step in the cultivation of the Ren was devotion and respect to parents, elderly relatives and other older members of the family. He argued that the desires of an individual should never be looked down upon or suppressed, but one should get education so as to come into terms with their needs through propriety and rituals, a way with which individuals could show their loyalty and respect to others and their duties in their societies. Confucius also mentioned about virtue as a character of a ruler. He argues that virtue is a fundamental quality of a leader. His main objective for teaching his followers was to come up with people who are properly cultivated as far as ethnicity is concerned and those men should have high self esteem, speak in the correct manner and show integrity in everything that they do. In this text, the main thesis statement that Confucius needs to prove is his assertion that politics and ethics are independently separated from one another.
The text highlights several subjects and teachings. Some of the subjects are as discussed here;
Ren or Goodness
The word goodness is a translation of the word ren from the text. This word is used several times in the text and it is portrayed as a virtue obtained from knowledge and through observing rituals. The word does not only mean goodness, it also addresses the moral attitude and character that that few people can possess. The terminology is a complex one that outlines a close presence of divine. For that matter, its achievement can take a whole lifetime to attain and several years of polishing and amendment of a persons character and values.
The term Junzi used in the text is a Chinese word referring to a person who embraces a refined code of morals and internalizes goodness. The life of this person is shown in the work as a very superior one in every manner to what the author refers to as a samal man. The individual is not encouraged by gain or some kind of political ideologies, but is guided by what he deems right in all situations. The life of the individual is a moderate one and any more extreme view is seen as incorrect. This subject is echoed in other several philosophical works and literature works. A good example can be seen in the philosophy of the Greek which addresses the virtues of a middle way in the midst of two different extremes. According to Waley Arthur, such kind of thinking is also a foundation of Liberalism.
Rituals and Rights
This is referred to as li in the text. Confucius had a great interest in rituals conducted by the ancient kings and their other ways. The term Li is not specifically limited to rituals; it can be extended to cases of conducts of persons. This term can sometimes be used to refer to propriety. This concept also has the idea of knowledge of right or a course of action in several situations. It can therefore be argued that the knowledge of this theme is directly linked to the accumulation of goodness and character. Both goodness and character are characteristics of Junzi.
Rectification of names
The philosopher, Confucius, had a belief that the social order fell apart as a result of the failure view and correctly understand the reality. He argues that the gentlemen have to use the proper terms in referring to people, place and things by calling them with their correct names. He goes ahead to say that otherwise would lead to a poor understanding of them, something that resulted into a disorder. The philosopher condemned later generation for their usage of terms that were not correct or creating a totally strange nomenclature, rather than making use of the correct terminologies that were being used by the ancient kings. This subject can be stretched to accommodate demonstration that a better understanding of things was the main objective of the rectification of names. It was the best way of addressing day to day problems and referring to anything by its name rather than what could be viewed or wished to be.
In his work, Confucius sensitizes the advantages of education, but it should not be confused with the education in the formal manner. Much as the formal education was valuable, The Analects stresses more on the continued knowledge pursuit as a way of constantly making oneself better. There are several recordings of Confucius making numerous statements about the significance of learning.
The text talks a lot about government. During the time of the author, power were limited in a monarchical form of governance. Confucius fought for a kind of governance where ruling could be based upon what is right. The leader would be privy of the past rituals and the traditions and also lead his or her subjects by example. His point is that a leader should not act for personal or political maneuvers buts should rather fight for what is best for his or her people. He made journeys to other several kingdoms with the view to teaching people his philosophies but he failed to see the implementation of his teachings.
This can be defined as the reverence of a persons ancestors after their demise. Confucius figured out the duty to parents or ancestors as a very important instrument for cultivating virtues. An important point to take note of is that this role was not just merely viewed as a standard social duty that had to be done. The philosopher notes that everyone can make sure that parents have sufficient food with equal attention level and care that they offer to their pets. The duty of filial was neede to be conducted with sincere concern and intent.
The above are some of the themes that the text tend to address. Reading deeply into the book, Confucius tends to trigger much emphasis into some of the topics. His belief is seen to be much strong about them and even the story of his life and the teachings he used to give in several places he could go touched on these topics. Below are some of the major topics he addresses and their relevance to the society as a whole;
Philosophy of Socialism
In the Analects 3, 6 and 11, Confucius discusses the nature of the supernatural. These analects show how strong his belief was on the respects for the supernatural but he also argues that people should alienate from them. He instead teaches people to base their social ideologies and values on tradition, moral philosophy and love for other people. There are several instances where the philosopher uses the term ren. In the text, the term is used to mean goodness, altruistic, humane or benevolent. In general, Confucius uses the term to define an overall virtue that no any living individual can or has ever completely attained. Another term that he addresses is li. Confucius argues that the most important aspect of the li was to observe the practical social alienations that are there between different people in life. In his philosophy, the 5 relationships include: father to son, wife to husband, ruler to subjects, brother to brother and a friend to a friend. According to the Analects, li and ren are related. While li addresses the relationship between an individual, his family and his close community, ren addresses the relationship and interaction the individual has with everyone. This philosophy is important in the relationship people have and creates a sense of respects and peaceful coexistence among family member or people living in a given community.
Philosophy of Politics
Confucius believed that a good leader should have self esteem and would rule his people by embracing education and by being a good example. The ruler would demonstrate love to his subjects while correcting them instead of using coercion and punishment. Confucius argues that, If the people are led by laws, and uniformity among them be sought by punishments, they will try to escape punishment and have no sense of shame. If they are led by virtue, and uniformity sought among them through the practice of ritual propriety, they will possess a sense of shame and come to you of their own accord.(Analects 2). This philosophy sensitizes on character of a good leader as someone who understands the feelings of his subjects and is not ruthless to them. Confucius tends to condemn dictatorial kind of leadership by preaching peace and love between a ruler and his or her subjects.
According to the philosopher, a good learner is one who respects and learns through his teachers deeds and words. A good teacher should be older and possesses familiarity with the past ways of life, culture and other practices. Confucius was more than willing to anyone without considering his or her social class or ethnical background, provided they were sincere and eager to learn new things (Analects 7 and 15). He strongly believed that education would cultivate ethical men who would have great respect to others, would speak correctly and also demonstrate high integrity in everything they do.
This topic is extensively addressed in the work. The text argues that, If names be not correct, language is not in accordance with the truth of things. If language be not in accordance with the truth of things, affairs cannot be carried on to success.(Analects 13) .This topic can be extended to accommodate demonstration that a better understanding of things was the main objective of the rectification of names. It was the best way of addressing day to day problems and referring to anything by its name rather than what could be viewed or wished to be. It helps to address to importance or respect to people and things by referring them with their relevant names.
The text has several supplemental materials attached to it. One of the materials provided is the map showing the states of Lu and Zou. Confucius was born in the town of Zu. His father was a strong member of the low aristocracy of the Lu state.
The glossary discusses key ethical terms and other terms used by the author in Chinese thought. The philosophy addressed in The Analects is based on ethical perspectives and the text is structured using some ethical terms that need to be translated for the benefit of people from different ethnic groups.
Much as personal names are clearly mentioned in the initial reading, the ideas addressed by the text are significantly influenced by the characters of the text and this fact is clearly presented as a conversational play within a play among some limited characters. These characters are: Confucius himself, who is the master, his followers and a number of power holders with whom he used to interact.
The Analects generally emphasizes on morality and its values. In this regard, observers tend to take moralities as kind of politics so as to make independent politics from the older tradition look implicit. After going through the Analects of Confucius, one can agree that politics and ethics independently separated from one another. Confucius never substituted politics for ethics; he could not show a clear boundary between them. As far as politics is concerned, many people tend to off from the philosophers doctrine of morality or principle of value-prior and instead take ethics directly as politics. This makes politics to have no distinct place in the tradition of Confucian.
In this text, two points must be clearly taken note of; the first one...
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