Confucian philosophy of government

January 23rd, 2004

HIST 534-Modern Chinese History

Confucius was a non-European philosopher, as well as a teacher, who was born in the village of Zhou in the country of Lu. He was a very wise Chinese philosopher. He was born 551 BC and then died 479 BC. He made a lot of theories about life, the law and the government. He believed philosophy to be the rules that you should follow in order to have a successful life. He did not let this stop him from getting his education. He became one of the most educated men in China. He then opened up a school so he could share his knowledge to others. He married very early at the age of 19 and had two daughters and one son. His father was a commander of a district in Lu. He grew up working on a farm until he reached the age of twenty. He then worked for the governor of his district.

Confucius lived during the Zhou Dynasty. They believed that the king had the power to rule from heaven. This is what was called the “mandate of heaven.” The theory was that the mandate of heaven was that the blessing of heaven was based on the king’s rule. If he ruled poorly he would lose his mandate, thus giving the honor to someone else. The rulers claimed that Heaven gave them a “mandate” to demolish the evil Shang ruler. The whole idea of the mandate of heaven was similar to the dynastic cycle in that a dynasty started strong, but gradually would give way to wickedness and be replaced by a stronger and new dynasty.

In Confucian ethics, we are focused on our ability to learn and plan to serve our family. We need to order ourselves for self-improvement. Confucius said, "In education there are no class distinctions.” This demonstrated his belief in the equality and educability of all men. In Confucian thought, the central issue is the perfectibility and educability of human beings. I think if he included women, then he would have been an even better man. There are now many women nowadays with modern professions as engineers and construction workers. Confucian values must definitely change with the environment and to modern times.

Confucius emphasized “government by goodness” he said, “The people are like grass, the ruler like the wind”; as the wind blows the grass was inclined. He meant that the right demeanor gives the ruler authority. He urges kindness and compassion in human affairs and in the government. He maintained the universal harmony of man and woman by doing the right things. He wanted people to be honest, loyal, obedient, and thoughtful. He taught his students to treat his parents and elders with respect. He thought that the importance of teaching could change the future. Learning something isn’t enough to fulfill needs, you must be able to think about it and then be able to learn. Being faithful, keep promises, admit when you’re wrong are all ways that every person should follow.

Confucius had termed five relationships and this was the way society was led; ruler to subject, husband to wife, father to son, older brother to younger brother, and friend to friend. Only the last was a relationship between equals. Treat someone how you want to be treated. He came up with a great philosophy, “What you do not like done to yourself, do not do unto others.” Confucius thought that people should learn to find the true rule of life within them.

Confucius’ teachings were a very big lesson and religion to everyone. His philosophies are used very frequently in the workplace. Many use them as there mission statements to provide a better workplace. He believes that we live our lives within limits established by Heaven. We should never neglect what Heaven has to offer. He also believes that men are responsible for all of their actions. He presented his teachings as lessons transmitted from ancient times. He taught about different kinds of friendships you have with people. Some will give you benefits and some are harmful. If there are those in China who really seek the liberty and democratic rights enjoyed to some extent in the West, then Confucius’ philosophy should not be deserted;