EAS256 final ESSAY - Flowering of Humanity: Analysis of the...

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Flowering of Humanity: Analysis of the fundamental of Confucianism By: EAS256H1 Research Essay EAS256H1
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Flowering of Humanity: Analysis of the fundamental of Confucianism Confucius is known as a thinker with profound insight and vision. Confucius’s ideas are known primarily through the sayings recorded in the analects. The thrust of his thought is ethical rather than theoretical or metaphysical. Confucius urges his followers to aspire to become true gentlemen (junzi), a term that he redefines to refer to men of moral cultivation rather than men of noble birth. To Confucius, the ultimate virtue is “ren”, a term that has been translated as humanity, perfect goodness, benevolence, and nobility. In distinguishes human from the non-humans, Confucius offers a generative image: Rite (Li). But Rite and Ceremony would seem to deemphasize the individual. It is often stressed the Confucianism as “discovery of the individual” by modern commentaries. Professor Rongjie Cheng summarizes that “the entire Confucian philosophy: the realization of self and the creation of social order.” (Cheng 27) The common understanding of Confucian philosophy is formulated in terms of “society” and the “individual”. Self-realization and self-integrity are supposed to reflect the characteristic discovery of Confucius. Nevertheless, Confucius is concerned with the nature of “humanity” rather than with the polar terms “individual” and “society”. In a dialogue between Confucius and his disciple Zi Gong: “Zi Gong asked: “What would you say about me as a person?” The Master said: “You are a utensil.” “What sort of utensil?” “A sacrificial vase of jade.” (Analects5:3)”
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The general opinion among commentators is that Confucius is first putting Zi Gong in his place, and then, in his next response, softening the blow. These are the interpretations: “Master,” Zi Gong says, “Tell me where I stand with regard to the ideal.”The Master replies, “You are still only a utensil, useful only for specific purposes. You are not the morally self-realized man, the man with broad capacities who is capable of governing or using special capacities of others.”Zi Gong, his eagerness and optimism shaken, does not give up. “But, Master, how do you meat that? Don’t you some qualifying or softening word with which you can give me more hope?”And the Master replies, in a paternalistic, encouraging tone: “Zi Gong, don’t feel too bad about it. Even if you are still a man to be used and not yet one who is perfected and capable of using others, at least you are a very fine utensil of your kind. Indeed you are among the most handsome and valuable.” (Slingerland 2006)
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This note was uploaded on 07/18/2010 for the course EAS eas256 taught by Professor Davidchai during the Summer '10 term at University of Toronto.

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EAS256 final ESSAY - Flowering of Humanity: Analysis of the...

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