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The Most Successful Societies Are the Ones Based on Confucian Thought

By Smiller5397 Oct 14, 2008 746 Words
Throughout ancient Chinese history, several philosophers led lives with efforts of “reforming a world seen as descending into chaos.” Inarguably, the most influential philosopher of his era was Confucius. Confucian thought provides detailed accounts of how life should be regulated to be successful. Three of the most extensively-covered topics in Confucian thought include The Superior Man, education, and government. Due to their precise accounts of how to maintain an orderly lifestyle, the beliefs concerning The Superior Man, Education, and Government allow Confucian principles to solely act as a method of organizing society. Confucian thought is highly-devoted to the idea behind “The Superior Man.” The Superior Man can be attributed to all individuals in society and acts as a guide for human behavior. According to Confucian principles, “What the Superior Man seeks, is in himself. What the mean man seeks is in others.” According to Confucian thought one must seek to establish oneself before seeking to establish others. By recognizing one’s own faults before seeking out the faults of others, a harmonious society is created. Confucian thought also recognizes the necessity to lead a humble life. According to Confucius, “The Superior Man is distressed by his want of ability. He is not distressed by men not knowing of him.” Individuals leading a humble lifestyle will act in ways which will develop themselves in society. This “Superior Man” will not become discouraged due to a lack of recognition for his actions. The Confucian concept of The Superior Man provides a foundation which serves as a guide to human conduct in a society. While the individual (The Superior Man) is important to a society, the development of an educational system is equally as important to a civilization. Confucian beliefs stress the importance of education in society. Furthermore, Confucian thought is centered on the belief that self-development is essential for education to occur. This belief coincides with the idea of The Superior Man’s development. Confucius is credited with stressing, “To have faults and not to reform them—this, indeed, should be pronounced having faults.” Confucian philosophy stresses the need to learn from past mistakes as a means for educating. If one repeats faults without correction, the educational system is likewise flawed. Another Confucian belief concerning education involves the development of man. According to Confucian philosophy, it is believed that “By nature, men are nearly alike; by practice they get to be wide apart.” This belief suggests that all men have the ability to be educated. However, it is the process of becoming educated that sets men apart in a society. The third stressing point of Confucian thought which acts as a means of organizing society concerns Government rule and regulation. A society without a strong Governmental presence cannot flourish. Confucian thought has dedicated many ideas to governmental regulation and its role in a society. According to Confucius, society should reflect how effective a government is regulated. Confucius explained, “When a country is well-governed, poverty and mean conditions are a thing to be ashamed of. When a country is poorly governed, riches and honor are things to be ashamed of.” Confucian thought maintains that the governmental leaders should reflect society. If leaders show riches in times of poverty, it is a shame to the people. However, if leaders show poverty when a society is well-governed, it is a shame to the leaders. This method creates an equal balance among leaders and citizens. A final Confucian thought on government concerns the validity of laws present in society. Confucius emphasized, “The art of governing is to keep its affairs before the mind without weariness, and to practice these affairs with undeviating consistency.” In essence, Confucian thought on government is centered on the idea that laws should be carefully devised and should be consistently enforced. By doing so, a fair and just environment is created for the citizens. While The Superior Man, Education, and Government are only miniscule parts which compose a society, they are also essential building blocks which need to be present in order for a society to be effective. Without the development of these ideas, society, as a whole, will be unsuccessful. Therefore, one can safely assert that a society can be based solely on Confucian thoughts and ideas.


Schirokauer, Conrad, Miranda Brown, David Lurie, and Suzanne Gay, . A Brief History of Chinese and Japanese Civilizations. 3rd Edition. Thomson Wadsworth, 2006.

Confucius, The Analects, (September 6, 2008), Brooklyn College, Core 9 Reader.

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