Mencius vs. Confucius

Topics: Confucius, Chinese philosophy, Confucianism Pages: 7 (2613 words) Published: November 29, 2010
I think that Confucius was more correct in his views than Mencius, not because of differing views (although they did differ at certain points), but because of the way these ideas were carried out throughout his career, and ultimately, his life. Confucius was a Chinese thinker and philosopher. His philosophy emphasized personal and governmental morality, correctness of social relationships, and justice and sincerity. These values gained prominence in China over other doctrines, such as Taoism during the Han Dynasty. Confucius' thoughts have been developed into a system of philosophy which has come to be known as Confucianism. It was introduced to Europe by Matteo Ricci, who was the first to come up with the Latin name "Confucius". His teachings may be found in the Analects of Confucius, a collection of "brief aphoristic fragments", which was compiled many years after his death. For nearly 2,000 years he was thought to be the editor or author of all the Five Classics, such as the Classic of Rites and the Spring and Autumn Annals, but this was not the case as many of these “fragments” cannot be directly credited to Confucius because of lack of written proof. Confucius was born in 551 BC in the Lu state of China, born into a warrior family. His father, Shulianghe, was a famous warrior who fought in the chinese military, and owned a large portion of land. Confucius lost his father when he was three years old, and then his mother Yan Zhengzai took him and left his father's land because, as a concubine, she wanted to avoid the scorn from Shulianghe's real wife. Therefore, Confucius lived in poverty with his mother since childhood. With the support and encouragement of his mother, Confucius studied hard as a child. When Confucius was seventeen, his mother died as a result of illness and exhaustion. Three years later, Confucius married. Though he had a good wife who loved him, he left his family to pursue his philosophical goals. Confucius sought to revive the virtue of Huaxia (Chinese civilization) and the aspects of the Zhou Dynasty to build a great humanistic society. In the Analects, Confucius said that he was a "transmitter who invented nothing". He stressed most the importance of study. In this respect, he is seen by the Chinese as the “Greatest Master”. Instead of trying to build a systematic theory of life and society or establish a set of rites, he wanted his students to think deeply for themselves and relentlessly study the outside world, mostly through the old scriptures and by relating the moral problems of the present to past political events (such as in the Annals) or past expressions of feelings by common people and reflective members of the elite, as found in the poems of the Book of Odes. In times of division, chaos, and endless wars between feudal states, Confucius wanted to restore the “Mandate of Heaven” that could unify the world and bestow peace and prosperity on the people. Because his vision of perfection in society was looked upon as an attempted revival of the old social order, Confucius is often considered a great advocate of conservatism. But a closer look at what he proposed often shows that he used past established concepts and rites to push a new political agenda of his own: a unified royal state in which succession was based on moral accomplishment rather than lineage. These rulers would be devoted to their people and would strive for personal and social perfection. Such a ruler would spread his own virtues to the people instead of imposing proper behavior with laws and rules. One of the deepest teachings of Confucius was the importance of personal behavioral beliefs over written rules. His moral teachings emphasized the building up of oneself, imitation of good moral behavior, and the attainment of skilled judgment rather than knowledge of rules (wisdom rather than knowledge). Confucius's ethics may be considered a type of virtue ethics. His teachings rarely rely on reasoned...
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