Philosophy and Politics: East Meets West Chinese Philosophical Perspective Chinese philosophy has usually been closely related to political activities in ancient Chinese society. Many schools of thought in Chinese philosophy have always been concerned with various aspects of state or social matters…
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Confucius’ social and political philosophies are both rooted in the idea that one should learn self-discipline and treat others with love and concern. He argued that men are responsible for their own actions with regard to how they treat others. Confucius also believed in harmony and having a relationship with the other person, like a father to his son or a mother to her daughter. He also believed in social harmony, which is the great goal of Confucianism. Confucius believed that everyone had a role in the social order and must be do their part in that society. Confucius’ social philosophy is known as Ren, which means being altruistic, compassionate, and loving toward others. This concept means that one should avoid speech that would result to negativity or the appearance of negativity. He also taught that only those who learned self-discipline could accomplish altruism. Ren is to be considered a practice that is broad, and informs one’s interactions with other people. Confucius noted that one should not use their social power to oppress those of the lowest power. Instead, one should treat others with respect, the same way one would want to be respected. This is what makes the idea of the superior man in Confucian philosophy. Another part of his social philosophy is Li, or etiquette, rituals, and morals. ...
Virtue would enable a ruler to maintain good order without trouble or without relying on his officers and deputies. He believed that in order for a ruler to maintain virtue, an individual must master the practice of Li. Practicing Li, or etiquette, through ceremonies that express humility and thankfulness, gift-giving rituals, acts of politeness, would result in efficacy for the ruler. As said in Confucius’ Analects: The Master said: “Lead the people with administrative injunctions (zheng) and keep them orderly with penal law (xing), and they will avoid punishments but will be without a sense of shame. Lead them with excellence (de) and keep them orderly through observing ritual propriety (li) and they will develop a sense of shame, and moreover, will order themselves.” (2:3) Confucius’ political philosophy is also rooted in self-discipline, and treating others with love, compassion, and concern. In this area, Confucius had a theory called Zhengming. This referred to rectifying the behavior of people so that it corresponds to the language they identify and describe themselves with. Confucius believed that this rectification should start at the top of the government, where he believed the discrepancies originated. If the ruler’s behavior has been rectified, those beneath him will follow and do the same. It is this way of thinking that Confucianism, and all the Chinese philosophies thereafter, developed a political philosophy that is strongly centered on a cultivated social and political merit system. Confucius also held that the concept of Zhengming is important or integral in his ideas of political meritocracy. The proper rectification of names, terms
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