‘Confucianism is of little value in today’s Hong Kong.’
Name: Cheng Ho Kwan UID: 3035068752
Historically, traditional Confucian philosophy fell out of use in China as modernity swept across Asia at beginning of the twentieth century. Since China was defeated by invaded of western countries and the increase industrial power and economic of Europe and United States forced Chinese people to consider China’s future. Some intellectual advocating modernisation when the new culture movement in China occurred. There were two ideological extremes formed in China, one rejected the Confucianism as it caused China’s weakness while the other believed Confucianism did not offer science and democracy which lead west to become powerful.1 Confucianism was neglected and not in need started from the new cultural movement.
Nowadays, Hong Kong is modern and global metropolis of China. It has a bureaucracy which is greatly autonomous from society and it also exercises minimum power and control over its citizenry and export-oriented economy. Meanwhile, it remains essentially Chinese. Hong Kong was changed into metropolis from industrialized region caused by the rapid economic growth. Some Scholars credited Confucianism as the impetus when the stellar economic performance of the Asia-Pacific region occurred in the 90s.2 It is because Confucianism provided the cultural background for entrepreneurs to excel. However, people loosely refer to Confucianism when analysing factors related to the social and economy matters due to same region triggered a global economic crisis in 1997. Moreover, studies on Chinese values especially the traditional values are certainly insufficient if not misconstrued by intellectuals with no Chinese background. Therefore, Do Chinese values still exist in Hong Kong or even the modern Chinese societies? Is Confucianism of little value in today’s Hong Kong? This essay will investigate if Confucianism still played an important role in developing the attitude and mind of modern Chinese in Hong Kong. What is Confucianism?
Confucianism is the one of major believe of Chinese. The core of Confucianism is humanism and it as an ideology is non-theistic and humanistic. The goal of Confucianism is to establish peaceful(安) and rule in the state. Confucianism focuses on the maintenance of ethics and the cultivation of virtue, the greatest basic of which are ren(benevolence), yi(righteousness), li(rites), zhi(wisdom) and xin(faithfulness).3 Achieving the goal is through Ren(仁), which is the most crucial concept of Confucius’ humanism.4 Ren expresses the extension from the self to others in terms of zhong(忠) ‘doing one’s best’ and shu(恕) ‘be considerate’. Zhong can be interpreted as to cultivate one’s moral character. This is equivalent to what we commonly regard as the Golden Rule, ‘Do to others what you would like others to do to you.’ Shu means that ‘Do not impose on others what you yourself do nor desire.’
The important of Confucianism
After the Opium Wars occurred, China was under the effect of westernization. Scholars started to doubt the traditional Confucianism and think that it is useless where compare to the western thought. However, there are some problems when applying the western thought. Thus，If we apply the Confucianism to different relationships and areas, it may solute or release some social problems. The following are how Confucianism plays the important role in different aspects such as political, economic, morality and education.
The main problem of now political environment is the distortions of individualism. In the system of democracy, people demands for freedom in society, however, people became selfish which only concerned about themselves and ignore the others. The individualism changed into egoism due to the people lack cultivates their moral character. As people don’t like the isolation caused by egoism, they will obsequiously submissive succumb to the authority and loss their unique value.
The point of departure in Confucianism is self-cultivation rather than social responsibility.5 The emperors should be the model of ‘sageliness within and kingliness without(內聖外王)’6 which ‘sagelines within’(內聖) means people have perfected their inner moral qualities while ‘kingliness without(外王)’ refer to people have established significant political and social achievements. Therefore, people who works at government should learn the Confucianism that how to be alert when alone. The philosopher Tsang said，“I daily examine myself on three points:-whether, in transacting business for others, I may have been not faithful;’ [The Analects 1:4]7 Therefore, if people care other’s view and social rights, which is the aspect of Confucianism, it do good to the political and social environment. The Confucianism of government helped to create a strong government, which educated the government officials to help run and control it. Confucianism was both important in helping the Chinese preserve a stable and strong government and in creating a similar civilization throughout the empire.
Nowadays, people earn money through the immoral methods which impose on others badly and even harmful to others. This is the short-sighted commercial marketing practices and brings bad effect on economic development. The successful of Hong Kong become the ‘four little Dragons of Asia’ requires not only the import of western values, but also the support of the ideology of traditional Chinese values and the modification and criticism of these indigenous traditions. As Confucius said ‘A gentleman makes his wealth in ethical means’ It show how important of Confucianism in increase the economic growth.
Both the above stated that how important of moral value and standard of human is. Our Society need people who with good moral standard. Why this phenomenon occurred? It just because people are utility and cannot satisfied with one’s present situation. Many people don’t apply ren to different relationships that cannot become noble, unselfish, just and kind. It may cause under such social gazes and bad education system, but it doesn’t tell that Confucianism is bad. Oppositely, the philosophies of Confucianism teach people how to become a gentleman and bring influence to the society and world.
The basic of Confucianism is education. As the nature of human beings is born good, based on this theory, bad people just inflamed afterward. To govern the society should begin with moral education, to develop and cultivate mentally or morally, to expand, strengthen, and discipline people which can develop social harmony. However, today Hong Kong’s education is the most discredited ‘spoon-feeding education’. It totally contradicts the theory of education in Confucianism. The spoon-feeding education force students to recite other than understand it. The Master said, ‘I do not open up the truth to one who is not eager to get knowledge, nor help out any one who is not anxious to explain himself. When I have presented one corner of a subject to any one, and he cannot from it learn the other three, I do not repeat my lesson.’[The Analects, 7:8]8 It stated that Confucius emphasize the important of active critical thinking. Confucianism not only stresses the cultivation of a person’s character, but also the important of education and rules of Rites. The Confucianism focus on enhancement of virtue of people and to satisfied with valuable life.
Taking everything into consideration, Confucianism in not of little value in today’s Hong Kong. Maybe some claimed that Confucianism contain some useless idols such as China’s development is largely indigenous and isolation from the other great civilizations which caused china located in the backward state on economy. However, it is simply not true as the principle of Confucianism is to learn through others beside isolate themselves. People isolate from the other just because their egoism. All in all, Confucianism plays the important role on development of Hong Kong citizens and society. Therefore, Confucianism is of important and realistic value in today’s Hong Kong.
1. Michael G. Reviving Confucian thought. From Magazine of the city of University, May 2012, P.25 2. C.Y. Lee 2003. Do traditional values still exist in modern Chinese societies?, Asia Europe Journal (2003) 1:P. 43–59 3. Martin Lu. Confucianism: Its relevance to modern society, Federal Publications(S) Pte Ltd, 1983. chapter 1 4. Wei Ming Tu， Humanity and self-Cultivation: Essay in Confucian Thought, Asian Humanities Press Berkely 1979, Chapter 5 5. Fu Pei-Jung傅佩榮, Rujia Zhexue Xinlun儒家哲學新論, Ye-Chian Publisher, 1993 p.260 6. Lin Qiya林啟彥&Wong Yanli黃嫣梨, Zhongguo Wenhua Daolun中國文化導論, Hong Kong Educational Publishing Company, 1998