Analysis of the Ethical Principles of Confucius
Confucius emphasized the importance of moral character in determining the goodness of persons’ actions. The main ethical principles of Confucianism are li and ren (jen). Confucius asserted that by living according to these principles, one lives in the way of a supreme man, or a true gentleman, referred to as Chun-Tzu. The philosophy surrounding these principles emphasizes personal and governmental morality, correctness of social relationships, justice, and sincerity. (Zukeran) Li is what Confucius believed to be the ideal standard of religious, moral, and social conduct. Li represents the rituals and rules of propriety through which an individual displays respect for superiors and fulfills their role in society in a way that is worthy of respect and veneration. Everything that someone says or does should be based on a true consideration for propriety. Li is revered as the highest priority in practicing Confucian philosophy. It is essential to the ordering and regulating of the fundamental relationships found in society, which are as follows: (1) ruler and subject (2) father and son (3) husband and wife (4) eldest son and younger brothers (5) elders and juniors (Noss, p.295). The goal of perfect harmony among these relationships can only be achieved if the ten appropriate attitudes or yi are present. The ten yi are defined as kindness in the father, filial piety in the son, gentility in the eldest brother, humility and respect in the youngest brothers, righteous actions in the husband, obedience in the wife, compassion in the elders, reverence in the juniors, benevolence in rulers, and supreme loyalty in subjects. If yi is expressed throughout these societal relationships the result will be peace and harmony between these primal relationships and li may be attained. Through this process people will convey their true humane character known as ren (Zukeran). Ren is the worthy moral quality of the ultimate...
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