Exploring Confucianism: A Chinese Way of Life - Essay Sample

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  7
Wordcount:  1762 Words
Date:  2023-06-07


Confucianism is mostly regarded as the system of ethical and social philosophy more than a religion. The philosophical tradition, Confucianism, was established on the ancient Chinese religious foundation to create institutions, social values, and prodigious paradigm of the traditional Chinese community. It can further be described as either civil religion or diffused religion. Confucianism has been part Chinese way of life, and to his followers, their everyday way of life was a religious realm. The actual name of the man referred to as Confucius was Kong Qiu. He was popularly known as Master Kong (Kongzi). During Zhou political disintegration, Confucius' main pursuit was to restore political and social harmony by resuscitating the ethical and moral values of the elites and the ruling class. Some of the three major principles he considered as the foundation block of morality were humaneness/ humanity (ren), filial respect (xiao), and ritual propriety (li).

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According to Confucius, humanity was the requisite love and goodness for other people around us, and this was the clear distinction between us and other animal species. Mencius coined the concept as, "To be human is to be humane." On the other hand, ritual propriety (li) was regarded as the behavior of humanity exhibited through outward expression that was harmonious with particular cultural traditions. Finally, filial respect (xiao), was the basis of other virtues. Its central focus was the respect for elders. Since this is a humanistic philosophy, he believed that to understand an individual, it was very imperative to consider the family members and the network of associates surrounding them. Confucianism has an extreme effect on Chinese culture. The conventional sense of authority, loyalty and filial piety, and temperance are the products of its synergy with the feudal rule. It had an intense effect on the past society, present, and its impacts are likely to be felt on the future generations.

Confucius’s Thoughts

Confucius considered himself as not the founder of Confucianism but just the conveyor who purposefully regenerate the old in the retention of the new. He advocated for a ritualized life through restoration of the past meaning of what life should entail. His interest in antiquity was due to his determination to discover why and how different institutions and life forms such as mourning decorum, human-centered devotion practices, and ancestors’ recognition have been existence for centuries (Graham, 2003). He believed in the power of culture and the role culture can play in the life of humanity. As a result, he facilitated the continuity of valuable cultural norms and cultural values that could work well, shape, and influence Chinese culture.

Impacts of Confucianism Philosophy on the Society at That Time and the Current Society From ‘仁、义、礼、智、信、恕、忠、孝、悌’ (Benevolence, Righteousness, Courtesy, Wisdom, Faith, Forgiveness, Loyalty, Filial Piety, And Respect to Elder Brother)

Confucianism philosophy was established by Confucius, a Chinese philosopher. Confucianism expanded into a series of ideas and become a tradition and way of life within Chinese culture (Knoblock, 1991). Despite its laid standards, guidelines, and ideas on how an individual should live, act, think, behave, to establish among Chinese people harmony, every idea in the philosophy was not positive. The following are the main fundamental principles of Confucianism, Benevolence, righteousness, courtesy, wisdom, faith, forgiveness, loyalty, filial piety, and respect to elder brother.

Benevolence (仁)

Benevolence, according to Confucius is the highest moral state, principle, and standard. It requires individuals to love and help one another in times of trouble. Confucius devoted himself to realize benevolence ideology. He encouraged people to help others stating that it was prudent to assist even if you do not know the victim accepting your aid. His devotion to and integration of these important moral principles had a great influence on different generations in China. In slave societies where the sovereigns did not express benevolence towards their servants, they were overthrown as a result of slate revolts (Zufferey, 1996). However, in feudal societies, the expression of benevolence through tax exemptions to their citizens during tough times minimized instances of revolts. The act of benevolence has been deeply rooted in China’s history leading to success, peace, and prosperity of benevolent rulers. However, kingdoms that went contrary to Confucius ideology lost everything and were in constant civil wars (Knoblock, 1991).

Righteousness (义)

Confucius referred to righteousness as what is reasonable and fair to be done. He proposed righteousness but was further expanded by his follower Mencius. A combination of righteousness and benevolence becomes the basis of feudal morality. Righteousness calls for law, values, and rule compliance especially those that have been agreed upon by the majority (Graham, 2003). For instance, when an elder falls, individuals around should help them stand or call a doctor if the elder if is having health-related problems. This is one of the public morals that has shaped how Chinese associated with each other in harmony despite ethnic diversity since ancient times. Righteousness absorbed some Legalism concept, and since Confucianism mandates everyone to a bid by the law, those who violated the law were punished (Knoblock, 1991). Upholding this virtue ensured that everyone lived according to the law, thus, promoting peace and order within the society.

Courtesy (礼)

Confucianism maintains that courtesy is capable of establishing mutual respect between each other. Confucius believed that mutual respect between individuals within society was a very crucial element in accomplishing anything. Confucianism advanced courtesy between couples, fathers and sons, and between rulers and common citizens. Courtesy accentuates prudence and modesty. It is also about showing respect to rites, law, and obviating lawlessness (Graham, 2003). Ancient Chinese culture respected ceremonies associated with the gods such as sacrifices to heavenly gods and ancestors. Confucius significantly emphasized courtesy in individuals’ daily lives. Courtesy was very significant and had a major in their daily life. Due to polite behaviors and desirable manners it instills in us, Confucius argued that it provides a good impression of us and respect instead of hate (Knoblock, 1991). Cultivating courtesy in our daily lives provides satisfaction and pleasure for people around us as it is not bound to a specific group of individuals.

Wisdom (智)

Confucius believed in the importance of learning and seeking knowledge. He realized that only wise men can be aware of their environment and know the right way to behave with their associates. Knowing the significance of different virtues and practicing them was a very important step in becoming a ruler. As rulers were only wise men who know how to handle people around him and differentiate right from wrong (Knoblock, 1991). Confucius provided so many books about the Confucianism. Confucius mentioned that "Benevolence means to love and wisdom means to understand others renzhe airen, zhizhe zhiren, 仁者爱人,智者知人),” (Graham, 2003). Confucius stressed of love for others and wisdom to discern right from wrong and good from evil, this would enable the society to foster good as they control evil.

He encouraged people to be reading books and seeking knowledge if they wanted to become government officials and resourceful. These people would later do examinations based on the books to determine if they were worth being government officials. During the early days, this was a promising system. However, they began experiencing slow growth and development as the citizens were still bound to the exam system during capitalism (Knoblock, 1991). They lacked outside book wisdom and knowledge and could no longer defend themselves from the western inversion. The impact of the wisdom of Confucianism affected the previous generation and is likely to affect the future generation. It has become a challenge to find job opportunities despite having top exam performance

Honesty (信) without trust, integrity, and credibility makes teamwork and development very difficult. Confucius encouraged honesty in our daily habits. The principle of honesty has been of great value to most enterprises in the past. It has encouraged growth and development for the business Empire (Graham, 2003). On the other hand, to fully serve their motherland, all citizens were required to protect and give all to their country. This nature of loyalty was very imperative in keeping a stable society and from foreign inversion.

Forgiveness (恕) was regarded as a very important virtue in Chinese culture. It is human nature to knowingly or unknowingly offend someone, and this occurs in our daily life and work. Confucianism philosophy believes that failure to forgive our offenders, we cannot effectively cooperate and achieve our main objective. Benevolence is fundamental to forgiveness. Forgiveness in Chinese culture plays a very important role in establishing social harmony and in eliminating constant social and political conflicts (Graham, 2003). As a result, strong social order and stability as led to massive development and cooperation, as people find amicable ways of solving their differences.

Filial Piety (孝)

Most feudal emperors encouraged the stability of families since the stability of the entire society and the country depended on it. Filial piety is one of the most significant values in Confucianism, a responsible element in supporting the stability of families. It was very imperative to care for and respect senior members of society according to Confucius. Additionally, caring and untiring were the basics of family virtues. Feudal emperors concluded that by prioritizing filial piety in the societies, many families would bring forth many children increasing population (Graham, 2003). In ancient times, the larger population in China meant wealth and security. Respect to elder brothers (悌’). During ancient times, the average life span was only 30 yrs. Therefore, Confucianism philosophy established the doctrine of respecting the elder brothers as they would automatically take control and guide the family in case of parents' demise. As a result, the act kept the stability of the family (Graham, 2003).

Confucian Ethics

Both Mencius and Confucius shared the same belief in the traditional and cultural values of the Chinese constituting of benevolence, honesty, courtesy, wisdom, loyalty, harmony, and filial piety. These virtues are deeply ingrained in Chinese culture and still have got an impact on how they operate daily. Mencius was a Chinese philosopher and a strong follower of Confucius. He became an expert in arts and rituals believed to be excellent for cultured life and governance. Mencius established orthodox Confucianism, with benevolent governance, maintaining the fact that citizens were more significant than the monarch as his main theories.

The holistic element from Chinese culture did not establish differentiating boundaries among the social, economic, and political structures in human life. In general, human life was being guided by Confucian ethics (Graham, 2003). To effectively achieve this, he established a humane and rational ethical system to manage and secure the country by deploying rather than suppressing emotions as, unlike so many legal institutions. Additionally, extensive ritual procedures (礼) were established to be strictly followed as formal rules. Furthermore, human et...

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Exploring Confucianism: A Chinese Way of Life - Essay Sample. (2023, Jun 07). Retrieved from https://proessays.net/essays/exploring-confucianism-a-chinese-way-of-life-essay-sample

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