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Confucianism, actually Zhu-chia (literally, the school of sci-fi scientists) is one of the most influential philosophical and religious currents in China. The creator of Confucianism was Kun - Qiu (Confucius). The largest scientist of his time, he was one of the first to become interested in the human essence, the meaning of human life, and the sources of human desires. Trying to explain them, guided by his own experience, he offered a number of interesting ideas. All his life Confucius was in search of the main thing for which the person lives. Confucianism was a pragmatic response to the demands of the surrounding world. It is trying to develop a number of forms of moral behavior that allow people to adapt adequately to the situation in which they find themselves. Through this kind of moral behavior, a person tries to gain an understanding of the spiritual nature of the world around him/her.
Fundamentals of Confucianism
All the prominent highlights of the arrangement of convictions and factions in antiquated China assumed an immense part in the establishments of Chinese progress: not metaphysical abstractions, but strict rationalism and concrete state utility, not the individual's personal connection with society, but the rejection of the personal in favor of the public, etc. This special system of values that developed over the millennium preceded the Confucius era, in the Ying-Chou China, prepared the country for the perception of the principles and norms of Confucianism. Their essence then, long before Confucius, boiled down to the weakening of the irrational beginning of religion and the glorification of the rational principle of ethics, to the subordination of religious and ethical norms to the requirements of social policy and administration. Instead of the "God-Personality" connection, a fundamentally new type of communication was formed: "Heaven, as a symbol of higher order, is an earthly society based on virtue." A person overshadowed by heavenly grace of the ruler mediates communication. In addition, this is the imperative of ancient China which, once strengthened by Confucianism, has defined important aspects of China's life for millennia including the structural strength of the state and society and the limitation of the individual’s role, her emotions, and passions.
The Main Concepts of Confucianism
General concepts of Confucius are "Transmit, not create, believe in antiquity and love it ..." Contemporary Chinese researcher of Confucius’ heritage Quan Yamin believes that by the age of thirty, Confucius developed the basic ethical and philosophical concepts of his future teaching.
- The concept of zhen ("humanity", "philanthropy") and Li ("rules", "etiquette"). Li was proclaimed the highest manifestation of zhen. These two components reflected the views of Confucius on the state structure and social organization of society. The central concept of Confucianism is zhen "humanity". Ren suggests shu - "reciprocity". Ren - humanity, philanthropy - is one of the central concepts in Confucianism including many qualities: modesty, justice, restraint, dignity, love for people, etc. In Confucianism, the concept of "zhen" immediately became a central category. On the one hand, it is a calm self-sufficient "love of people" giving birth to the right balance of love and hate; on the other hand, it is "overcoming oneself and returning to (ritual) decency" and realizing the golden rule “do not impose on others what you do not want yourself", "strengthen others in what you want to strengthen yourself, and move them to do what you want to do yourself." In Confucianism, "zhen" was a specific attribute of the "noble husband" (tsun zi), not inherent in the "insignificant person" (xiao zhen), but already with his closest followers became the universal beginning that forms the human personality.
- The essence of the second concept was formulated in four hieroglyphs: "to be a loyal (honest) dignitary, to honor the ruler". It covered a whole range of problems related to the management system and above all, the norms of the relationship between the head of state and the bureaucracy. The main virtue of subjects consists, according to Confucius, in the devotion to the ruler and in obedience and respect for all "elders". The political ethics of Confucius in general is aimed at achieving inner peace between the upper and lower strata of society and the stabilization of government. Notwithstanding moral elements, he considers the need to beat the procedures of polarization of riches and destitution among the populace. "When wealth is distributed evenly," he noted, "there will be no poverty, when there is harmony in the country, the people will not be small, when there is peace (in the relations between the upper and lower classes) there will be no danger of overthrowing (ruler)." Rejecting the riots and the struggle for power, Confucius highly appreciated the blessings of the civil world.
The direction of political relations through the standards of temperance in the lessons of Confucius is pointedly differentiated to the organization on the premise of laws. "If," he stressed, "to lead the people through laws and maintain order through punishments, the people will strive to evade (from punishments) and not be ashamed." If people are led by virtue and maintain order with the help of ritual, they will know shame and it will be corrected.
- The third concept is known as "following the middle path" (chun jun) or "the doctrine of the middle" through which Confucius warns against infatuation with extremes. A person can fulfill his mission in all senses of this word only by constant self-improvement. A man himself is a pure being, but everyone has a choice of exactly what he wants to become – "noble" or "low." One can become "noble" can only through self-improvement as well as the development of positive qualities such as self-esteem and philanthropy. The followers of Confucianism believe that nobility is inherent in the essence of each person. When this goal is achieved, it is important to observe moderation in everything and follow the so-called "Middle Way" trying in every possible way to avoid extremes. Also, family, observance of necessary rituals and traditions, good education and culture are important in the life of every person
- Arguing about the problem of power, Confucius believed that all cases should be resolved on the basis of the principle of justice; in essence, he put together such seemingly remote concepts as "power" and "justice." Based on traditional views, Confucius developed a patriarchal-paternalistic concept of the state. The state treats it like a big family. The power of the emperor ("the son of heaven") is compared to the power of the father, and the relationship of the ruling and subject to family relations where the younger depend on the elder. The socio-political hierarchy depicted by Confucius is based on the principle of people's inequality: "dark people", "commoners", "low", "younger" should obey "noble men", "better", "higher", and "senior". Confucius argued for the aristocratic concept of government since the common people were completely excluded from participation in the governance of the state.
As a supporter of non-violent methods of government, Confucius called on rulers, officials, and subjects to build their relationships on the basis of virtue. This appeal is primarily addressed to the ruling class because their observance of the requirements of virtue plays a decisive role and predetermines the dominance of the norms of morality in the behavior of subjects.
- The fifth concept concerns the attitude of a person to his/her faith. It is fixed by a judgment of eight hieroglyphs in the chapter "Tai Bo" to be adamantly loyal to our doctrine, diligently master it; risking his life, protect him. Kuang Yamin notes that the future life of Confucius was a clear example of an unswerving commitment to this doctrine. With regard to Confucianism, it is difficult to decide whether it should be perceived as a religion or solely as a doctrine of moral behavior. Confucius had faith in the notion of heaven and the divine essence although his true nature is not explained in detail. We find in him a belief in the good and moral nature of the divine. Confucius also had a clear idea of the nature of religious behavior.
- By this time, his initial ideas about the Will of Heaven inconsistently reflected his critical attitude to the widespread belief in the spirits. Confucius, at the same time, attached a great importance to religious practice. Since in ancient China there was no priestly caste as such and the departure of a religious cult was the responsibility of every official, of course, tszun zi - the ideal official, had to perfectly know the cult practice. It was religion, according to Confucius, that connected all norms of behavior in society to a single harmonious system, and the will of Heaven was the highest sanction of these norms of behavior dictated by the supposedly perfect rulers of antiquity who were able to understand the will of Heaven. Confucius himself also considered himself a vehicle for the will of Heaven, which reveals to contemporaries the "eternal truths" they have forgotten.
Thus, the system of an orderly society created by Confucius was ultimately sanctified by the will of Heaven. In the code of rules, the Sky postulated the norms of behavior in the ideal society of Confucius. However, these norms were only the starting point of political practice, the specific decisions that the ruler should have taken and which also had to correspond to the will of Heaven. Interpreters of the will of Heaven in this case should, in the opinion of Confucius, be precisely tsjun tzu - wise advisers to the ruler, whose task was not only the instruction of the people, but also the instruction of the king. Practically, Confucian advisers, coming to power, interpreted the will of Heaven on the basis of "heavenly signs". If they did not like the king's activity, they declared any astronomical or natural phenomenon "sinister". If the governor acted at the behest of advisers, they "did not notice" even the solar eclipses that occurred in their reign.
Even a short list of concepts makes it possible to notice that most of them were connected with the problem of state and society management. There were objective reasons for this. In the VI. BC. e. China remained a conglomerate of constantly warring kingdoms: some claimed hegemony, others sought to survive. The position of the rulers of the kingdoms themselves was unstable - within each of them there was a struggle in the midst of the highest aristocracy, some of whose representatives claimed the royal throne.
In fact, Confucianism would be rightly called not a religion, but a philosophy. Despite this, it, like other Eastern teachings, recognizes the existence of spirits, demons, and gods. Confucianism, with its moral-practical orientation, as it was said, strengthens the official ethical-political doctrine of China. It permeates Chinese culture so deeply that even today Confucianism does not need to be a religion or temple ministry as much as, for example, Taoism or Buddhism, because regardless of religion, every Chinese person can be called a Confucian to some extent. The goal of Confucianism is a purposeful, precise, clear and, at the same time, profound knowledge about the moral and political practice of human life.