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Confucianism - a Religion or a Philosophy - Essay Example

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Whereas other belief systems may lend themselves to readily being defined with regards to whether they are a religion or an philosophical system, Confucianism does not readily lend itself to such a simplistic level of interpretation. …
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Confucianism - a Religion or a Philosophy
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Download file to see previous pages From an analysis of the text and a cursory review of Confucianism, it must be understood by the reader that there are ultimately only three alternatives which could be gleaned: the understanding that Confucianism represents a philosophy but not a religious one, the understanding that Confucianism represents a religious worldview first and foremost within a philosophical interpretation being secondary, and the understanding that Confucianism represents both a religious and an philosophical interpretation. Likewise, it is the belief of this author that the most appropriate interpretation of this particular situation is the first determinant listed above; with the third determinant also being a distant possibility. Seeking to understand such a question may seem as something of an exercise in futility due to the fact that Confucianism is not a widely practiced religion; however, seeking to define what specifically is and what specifically is not a religion is an important aspect of delineating and defining the current world in which we live. The reason for choosing this first determinant as the most likely case in question is due to the fact that Confucian beliefs do not specify a belief or appreciation for any subset of gods that must be followed or appreciated in order for the individual to attain a degree of benefit, worship or salvation. Whereas other religions make specific claims with regards to what deities must be worshipped and extolled in order for a degree of personal benefit to be generated, Confucianism makes no such claims. Moreover, building upon this is the fact that Confucianism is syncretic; i.e. it builds upon other belief systems and faiths. This is something that few other belief systems can claim and not a single world religion is capable of boasting. This fact, perhaps beyond any of the others which will be discussed, helps to set Confucianism apart and differentiate this as an philosophyal interpretation of the world rather than a strictly religious one. Naturally, although the foregoing definition is sound, the fact remains that Confucianism retains key elements of religious dogma with regards to the means by which individuals should integrate with one another and the world around them. Due to the fact that the writings and belief system of Confucianism are concerned primarily with philosophyal and moral interpretations, it is easy to understand why many of the individuals that have researched this particular world view have come to the understanding that philosophyal world view and interpretations of right conduct is a handle that more appropriately defines Confucianism as compared to the blanket and somewhat incorrect handle of religion (Smith 186). Yet, regardless of the interpretation of Confucianism that is made, the fact remains that it retains many of the aspects of a religion so it is also understandable why so many individuals have referred to it as a religion; replete with a holy set of writings/proverbs, a prophet, and a base line of standards and beliefs that are passed down from one generation to the next; from one believer to the next. As such, it is the view of this author that Confucianism is in fact a verifiable “religion” as it exhorts a set of followers to act and behave in a certain way as a result of constraining and/or defining their lives based upon a certain set of teachings and principles. In such a manner, the definition of religion might not perfectly meld with the fact that Confucianism does not have a “god” or a particular clergy or any other such hallmarks of other well known religions, it meets ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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