Ideas of Confucius - Ryan Yip Ideas of Confucius ANS 302C-...

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Ryan Yip ANS 302C- Sec. 30875 Ideas of Confucius Confucian ideals significantly affected philosophy and Chinese history during the Zhou and subsequent periods. During Kongzi’s (Confucius’) age, local lords had taken the political power from the Zhou kings. This time was plagued by economic and social instability, as well as moral corruption. The “scholars” of that time were interested only in sensuous pleasures and their own welfare, thus becoming “bereft of moral leadership and unruly” leading to strict laws and harsh punishments as the only way to control the population. (p.2) Kongzi strived to restore “hope for humanity” and reduce moral corruption through three major concepts: li, ren, and junzi . (p.2) Confucius believed that by becoming the junzi (“gentleman”) by possessing the “supreme virtue of ren (“goodness”)” and following li (“rites” or “rituals”) that the former glory of the Zhou dynasty could be restored. Kongzi believed that “the Golden Age of humankind” was during the height of the Zhou dynasty due to the early Zhou rulers maintaining a “special relationship with tian (“Heaven”) through the “Mandate of Heaven.” (p.1) These rulers received the mandate due to their observance of li (“rituals”), which were a set of sacred practices. This mandate gave these rulers the divine right from Heaven to rule the people, but could be taken away if the people were not content with the current government. Thus, it served as a “check” for the government and gave the people justification to overthrow incompetent rulers. When asked about governing, Kongzi said that making sure there was sufficient food, armaments, and the confidence of the people were important. When asked what to sacrifice, the Master said that armaments and then food should be sacrificed because “death has always been with us, but a state cannot stand once it has lost the confidence of the people.” (12.7) This quote exhibits Kongzi’s belief that the power of the state resides within the people’s belief in the government to maintain social and economic stability.
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Kongzi also believed that the way to overcome moral corruption and social instability was through the individual people rather than strict laws and harsh punishments. Perfecting the majority of the people with virtues would lead to harmony with Heaven, thus leading to the “spontaneous and effortless ordering of the entire world.” (p.3) With this state of perfection, there would be no need for laws or decrees, as they would be drawn to the ruler with the perfect virtue that was given the “Mandate of Heaven.” Junzi (“Gentleman”) is one who has mastered the “Way” enough for it to become second nature. Confucius illustrates this ideal through many quotations in his books, highlighting different
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Ideas of Confucius - Ryan Yip Ideas of Confucius ANS 302C-...

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