Beliefs of Confucianism: A Way Of Life

Confucianism is an amalgamation of the thoughts and system of philosophy propounded by Confucius, the Chinese social philosopher and thinker. It is rife with governmental morality, ethics in social relationships, social justice and the value of sincerity in all human activities. This philosophy co-existed and shadowed doctrines such as Taoism and Legalism in ancient China, especially during the reign of the Han Dynasty between 206 BC and 220 AD. The ‘Analects of Confucius’ is an anthology of aphoristic fragments from the work of Confucius, compiled years after his death. Though there is no official record or direct documentation of this system of philosophy by the Master himself, it is believed that he authored classics such as ‘Classic of Rites’ and the ‘Spring and Autumn Annals’.

Beliefs of Confucianism:

Confucianism is a philosophical system developed around the teachings of Confucius. This ‘way of life’ address the complexities and idealism behind human morality, and the value of righteous action. Confucianism comprises social, moral, political, and quasi-religious ideals that have had tremendous influence over the cultures of the Orient. The trend of governmental promotion of these values, and the importance of education with regards to individual moral development in China, Japan, Taiwan, Korea and Vietnam, are products of Confucianism. This system of philosophy emphasizes on the individual and state as ‘bound by moral virtue rather than coercive law’.

Although Confucius’ ideas on morality and ethics were not accepted during his lifetime, the ‘recollections’ passed down generations made a great impact on successive kingdoms in China and other parts of the Orient. Confucianism propounds that a head, of a family or kingdom, is a mere figurehead. He rules from within a vacuum of power, incessantly striving to establish military and political dominance. However, the presence of the right legal principles throughout the family or empire sustain the nature of the unit, with every subsequent victory. The Master believed that individuals who are guided via edicts and kept on path with the help of punitive action do not develop a sense of shame. However, if they are guided by virtue and governed with accountability, they develop a sense of shame and the need for reform.

Confucianism declares that all human nature is essentially perfect and good. This stream of philosophy does not believe in the exposure to rites or extreme statism. Individual and state control over every human activity,within the dictates of metaphysics, and an unorthodox doctrine of radical thinking, are the strongholds of Confucianism. Confucius believed that people led by administrative injunctions develop a sense of self worth that is devoid of a sense of shame. Confucianism preaches that with the right leadership, people can conduct themselves harmoniously. The philosophy demarcates legalism and ritualism within the realm of individual accountability.

The ‘Analects of Confucius’ comprises short passages. The sayings or reasoning are not deductive in nature, nor directed towards convincing the reader. Confucianism is propounded via rhetoric use of analogy and aphorism, drawn on a time and space related cultural milieu. This is the main reason why, in the Occident, Confucianism needs detailed interpretation. Confucianism today is a political and ethical doctrine that fights contemporary ideas and seeks to gain confidence through the power of reasoning and debate. The Confucian relies on politeness and propriety to earn a place in society. This ‘way of life’ stands on the pillars of duty, internalization and social correctness.