Rashomon and Confucius' Concepts

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FYS, section 8
Margarita Diakova, ECO-111
Professor V. Hardin

How do the actions of each character in Rashomon illustrate the tension between social rules (li) and doing what is right, or appropriate (yi)?  Which characters obeyed the social rules? What happens in society when li breaks down? Is it still possible to have yi?

Li (pinyin Li, the rites) is the way a person acts. It refers to rituals, customs, rites, etiquette, and morals. “The rites are a code of rules of behavior” (Confucius, “The analects”, Introduction, p.49).Confucius thinks that we should shape rituals, such as education, music, even tea drinking, in a way that leads to a content and healthy society and people. For him it is also important that all your external acts must candidly reflect all your internal essence, it means your thoughts, notions, feelings, attitude. I want to give you a simple example about etiquette or good manners, to make you sure that the “body” should express your inner-motivations, not just your politeness. Every day you say “hello” to your mother and father, friends, professors etc. For most people it is just a habit, routine. So I think few of us know how this ritual should be done. According to Li, you should include to the word all your gladness that you feel when you meet somebody. It is not invented by Confucius; this is not only his concept of rites – this was built into some languages. If you look in the Russian language, you will see that the word “здравствуйте”, 2

which means “hello”, has a literal translation as “be healthy”. So, we can see that every folk, every civilization attached importance to greeting. Actually, not only your greeting, but also other rites must be sincere. If you act, according to this, you will notice that people greet you with smile and pleasure too, because they feel your sincerity. So, all the external acts of behavior should be learned accurately and deeply. Important thing to remember is that you must understand their...
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