Meaning of CONFUCIANISM in English

the way of life propagated by Confucius in the 6th5th century BC and followed by the Chinese people for more than two millennia. It has traditionally been the substance of learning, the source of values, and the social code of the Chinese. Confucianism has sometimes been viewed as a religion and sometimes as a philosophy. More than a creed, it affected the daily life and culture of Taoists, Buddhists, and Christians alike in China before the establishment of the communist regime. Its influence has also extended to Korea, Japan, and Vietnam. the way of life propagated by Confucius in the 6th5th century BC and followed by the Chinese people for more than two millennia. It has traditionally been the substance of learning, the source of values, and the social code of the Chinese. Its influence has also extended to other countries, particularly Korea, Japan, and Vietnam. Confucianism, a Western term that has no counterpart in Chinese, is a world view, a social ethic, a political ideology, a scholarly tradition, and a way of life. Sometimes viewed as a philosophy and sometimes as a religion, Confucianism may be understood as an all-encompassing humanism that neither denies nor slights Heaven. East Asians may profess themselves to be Shintoists, Taoists, Buddhists, Muslims, or Christians, but, by announcing their religious affiliations, seldom do they cease to be Confucians. Although often grouped with the major historical religions, Confucianism differs from them by not being an organized religion. Nonetheless, it spread to other East Asian countries under the influence of Chinese literate culture and exerted a profound influence on spiritual and political life. Both the theory and practice of Confucianism have indelibly marked the patterns of government, society, education, and family of East Asia. Although it is an exaggeration to characterize traditional Chinese life and culture as Confucian, Confucian ethical values have for well over 2,000 years served as the source of inspiration as well as the court of appeal for human interaction between individuals, communities, and nations in the Sinitic world. Additional reading The study of Confucius and Confucianism, not only as a historically significant inquiry but also as a philosophically meaningful and challenging endeavour, has come of age in the English-speaking world since the 1970s. In addition to the following bibliography, see Wing-tsit Chan, An Outline and an Annotated Bibliography of Chinese Philosophy, rev. ed. (1969); and Laurence G. Thompson, Chinese Religion in Western Languages: A Comprehensive and Classified Bibliography of Publications in English, French, and German Through 1980 (1985). For a major study of Confucius, see H.G. Creel, Confucius: The Man and the Myth (1949, reissued 1975), also published as Confucius and the Chinese Way (1949, reprinted 1960). Also see Herbert Fingarette, ConfuciusThe Secular as Sacred (1972), which perceives the Confucian idea of ritual as a philosophical issue; Benjamin I. Schwartz, The World of Thought in Ancient China (1985), which approaches Confucius and Confucianism as a challenging intellectual enterprise in comparative studies of great civilizations; and two modern translations: Confucius, The Analects (Lun Y), trans. from Chinese by D.C. Lau (1979, reissued 1986); and Mencius, Mencius, trans. from Chinese by D.C. Lau (1970). I.A. Richards, Mencius on the Mind: Experiments in Multiple Definition (1932, reissued 1983); and Ezra Pound (trans.), The Classic Anthology Defined by Confucius (1954, reprinted 1976), also published as The Confucian Odes (1959), are literary achievements. Richard Wilhelm (trans.), The I Ching: or, Book of Changes, 3rd ed. (1967, reprinted 1981; originally published in German, 1924), is unsurpassed in its richness of primary sources and clarity of presentation. For scholarly interpretations of classical Confucian thought, see Donald J. Munro, The Concept of Man in Early China (1969); Homer H. Dubs, Hsntze: The Moulder of Ancient Confucianism (1927, reissued 1966); Tu Wei-ming, Centrality and Commonality: An Essay on Chung-yung (1976); and Hellmut Wilhelm, Heaven, Earth, and Man in The Book of Changes (1977). John K. Shryock, The Origin and Development of the State Cult of Confucius (1932, reprinted 1966), is a pioneering attempt to study Confucianism as a Chinese national institution. Important primary sources in the Confucian tradition, all translated from Chinese, can be found in Wing-tsit Chan (trans.), Reflections on Things at Hand: The Neo-Confucian Anthology (1967), writings compiled by Chu Hsi and L Tsu-ch'ien, Neo-Confucian Terms Explained: The Pei-Hsi Tzu-I (1986), writings by Ch'en Ch'un, and Instructions for Practical Living, and Other Neo-Confucian Writings (1963), writings by Wang Yang-ming; and Julia Ching (ed. and trans.), The Records of Ming Scholars (1987), excerpts from writings by Huang Tsung-hsi. Several symposium volumes dedicated to the study of the Neo-Confucian form of life have been published, including Wm. Theodore de Bary (ed.), Self and Society in Ming Thought (1970), and The Unfolding of Neo-Confucianism (1975); Wm. Theodore de Bary and Irene Bloom (eds.), Principle and Practicality: Essays in Neo-Confucianism and Practical Learning (1979); Hok-lam Chan and Wm. Theodore de Bary (eds.), Yan Thought: Chinese Thought and Religion Under the Mongols (1982); and Wm. Theodore de Bary and Jahyun Kim Haboush (eds.), The Rise of Neo-Confucianism in Korea (1985). For an impressive collection of essays on Chu Hsi, see Wing-tsit Chan (ed.), Chu Hsi and Neo-Confucianism (1986). Studies on major thinkers include Chi-yun Chen, Hsn Yeh (A.D. 148209): The Life and Reflection of an Early Medieval Confucian (1975); James T.C. Liu, Ou-yang Hsiu: An Eleventh-Century Neo-Confucianist (1967; originally published in Chinese, 1963); A.C. Graham, Two Chinese Philosophers: Ch'ng Ming-tao and Ch'ng Yi-ch'uan (1958, reprinted 1978); Hoyt Cleveland Tillman, Utilitarian Confucianism: Ch'en Liang's Challenge to Chu Hsi (1982); Winston Wan Lo, The Life and Thought of Yeh Shih (1974); Julia Ching, To Acquire Wisdom: The Way of Wang Yang-ming (1976); Tu Wei-ming, Neo-Confucian Thought in Action: Wang Yang-ming's Youth (14721509) (1976); Edward T. Ch'ien, Chiao Hung and the Restructuring of Neo-Confucianism in the Late Ming (1986); and David S. Nivison, The Life and Thought of Chang Hseh-ch'eng, 17381801 (1966). Monographs on significant issues include Wm. Theodore de Bary, Neo-Confucian Orthodoxy and the Learning of the Mind-and-Heart (1981), and The Liberal Tradition in China (1983); Daniel K. Gardner, Chu Hsi and the Ta-hsueh: Neo-Confucian Reflection on the Confucian Canon (1986); John W. Dardess, Confucianism and Autocracy: Professional Elites in the Founding of the Ming Dynasty (1983); Benjamin A. Elman, From Philosophy to Philology: Intellectual and Social Aspects of Change in Late Imperial China (1984); and Tu Wei-ming, Humanity and Self-Cultivation: Essays in Confucian Thought (1979). Three studies in comparative philosophy and religion are noteworthy: David E. Mungello, Leibniz and Confucianism: The Search for Accord (1977); Julia Ching, Confucianism and Christianity (1977); and Jacques Gernet, China and the Christian Impact: A Conflict of Cultures (1985; originally published in French, 1982). Confucianism as it exists in the 20th century is discussed in Wing-tsit Chan, Religious Trends in Modern China (1953, reissued 1969). The thesis that Confucian humanism is incompatible with modernization defined in terms of industrial capitalism was first formulated in Max Weber, The Religion of China: Confucianism and Taoism (1951; originally published in German, 1922). Joseph R. Levenson, Confucian China and Its Modern Fate: A Trilogy, 3 vol. in 1 (1965, reissued 1968), further develops the claim that Confucianism could not survive the challenge of Western science and technology. Critical reflections on the Weberian and Levensonian interpretation include Hao Chang, Liang Ch'i-ch'ao and Intellectual Transition in China, 18901907 (1971); Charlotte Furth (ed.), The Limits of Change: Essays on Conservative Alternatives in Republican China (1976); and Thomas A. Metzger, Escape from Predicament: Neo-Confucianism and China's Evolving Political Culture (1977). The reasons for iconoclastic attacks on the Confucian tradition are explored in Lin Y-sheng, The Crisis of Chinese Consciousness: Radical Antitraditionalism in the May Fourth Era (1979); and Kam Louie, Critiques of Confucius in Contemporary China (1980). Studies of modern Confucian personalities include Kung-chan Hsiao, A Modern China and a New World: K'ang Yu-wei, Reformer and Utopian, 18581927 (1975); Hao Chang, Chinese Intellectuals in Crisis: Search for Order and Meaning (18901911) (1987); Joey Bonner, Wang Kuo-wei: An Intellectual Biography (1986); and Guy S. Alitto, The Last Confucian: Liang Shu-ming and the Chinese Dilemma of Modernity, 2nd ed. (1986). For contemporary manifestations of the Confucian tradition, see Irene Eber (ed.), Confucianism: The Dynamics of a Tradition (1986); and Tu Wei-ming, Confucian Ethics Today: The Singapore Challenge (1984). Tu Wei-ming Formation of the classical Confucian tradition According to Han-fei-tzu (d. 233 BC), shortly after Confucius' death his followers split into eight distinct schools, all claiming to be the legitimate heir to the Confucian legacy. Presumably each school was associated with or inspired by one or more of Confucius' disciples. Yet the Confucians did not exert much influence in the 5th century BC. Although the mystic Yen Yan (or Yen Hui), the faithful Tseng-tzu, the talented Tzu Kung, the erudite Tzu-hsia, and others may have generated a great deal of enthusiasm among the second generation of Confucius' students, it was not at all clear at the time that the Confucian tradition was to emerge as the most powerful one in Chinese history. Mencius (c. 371c. 289 BC) complained that the world of thought in the early Warring States period (475221 BC) was dominated by the collectivism of Mo-tzu and the individualism of Yang Chu (440c. 360 BC). The historical situation a century after Confucius' death clearly shows that the Confucian attempt to moralize politics was not working; the disintegration of the Chou feudal ritual system and the rise of powerful hegemonic states reveal that wealth and power spoke the loudest. The hermits (the early Taoists), who left the world to create a sanctuary in nature in order to lead a contemplative life, and the realists (proto-Legalists), who played the dangerous game of assisting ambitious kings to gain wealth and power so that they could influence the political process, were actually determining the intellectual agenda. The Confucians refused to be identified with the interests of the ruling minority because their social consciousness impelled them to serve as the conscience of the people. They were in a dilemma. Although they wanted to be actively involved in politics, they could not accept the status quo as the legitimate arena in which to exercise authority and power. In short, they were in the world but not of it; they could not leave the world, nor could they effectively change it. Mencius: The paradigmatic Confucian intellectual Mencius is known as the self-styled transmitter of the Confucian Way. Educated first by his mother and then allegedly by a student of Confucius' grandson, Mencius brilliantly performed his role as a social critic, a moral philosopher, and a political activist. He argued that cultivating a class of scholar-officials who would not be directly involved in agriculture, industry, and commerce was vital to the well-being of the state. In his sophisticated argument against the physiocrats (those who advocated the supremacy of agriculture), he intelligently employed the idea of the division of labour to defend those who labour with their minds, observing that service is as important as productivity. To him Confucians served the vital interests of the state as scholars not by becoming bureaucratic functionaries but by assuming the responsibility of teaching the ruling minority humane government (jen-cheng) and the kingly way (wang-tao). In dealing with feudal lords, Mencius conducted himself not merely as a political adviser but also as a teacher of kings. Mencius made it explicit that a true man cannot be corrupted by wealth, subdued by power, or affected by poverty. To articulate the relationship between Confucian moral idealism and the concrete social and political realities of his time, Mencius began by exposing as impractical the prevailing ideologies of Mo-tzu's collectivism and Yang Chu's individualism. Mo-tzu's collectivism rested on the advocacy of universal love. Mencius contended, however, that the result of the Mohist admonition to treat a stranger as intimately as one's own father would be to treat one's own father as indifferently as one would treat a stranger. Yang Chu, on the other hand, advocated the primacy of the self. Mencius contended, however, that excessive attention to self-interest would lead to political disorder. Indeed, in Mohist collectivism fatherhood becomes a meaningless concept, and so does kingship in Yang Chu's individualism. Mencius' strategy for social reform was to change the language of profit, self-interest, wealth, and power by making it part of a moral discourse, with emphasis on rightness, public-spiritedness, welfare, and influence. Mencius, however, was not arguing against profit. Rather, he instructed the feudal lords to look beyond the narrow horizon of their palaces and to cultivate a common bond with their ministers, officers, clerks, and the seemingly undifferentiated masses. Only then, Mencius contended, would they be able to preserve their profit, self-interest, wealth, and power. He encouraged them to extend their benevolence and warned them that this was crucial for the protection of their families. Mencius' appeal to the common bond among all people as a mechanism of government was predicated on his strong populist sense that the people are more important than the state and the state more important than the king and that the ruler who does not act in accordance with the kingly way is unfit to rule. Mencius insisted that an unfit ruler should be criticized, rehabilitated, or, as the last resort, deposed. Since Heaven sees as the people see; Heaven hears as the people hear, revolution, or literally the change of the mandate, in severe cases is not only justifiable but is a moral imperative. Mencius' populist conception of politics was predicated on his philosophical vision that human beings can perfect themselves through effort and that human nature is good. While he acknowledged the role of biological and environmental factors in shaping the human condition, he insisted that human beings become moral simply by willing to be so. According to Mencius, willing entails the transformative moral act insofar as the propensity of humans to be good is automatically activated whenever they decide to bring it to their conscious attention. Mencius taught that all people have the spiritual resources to deepen their self-awareness and strengthen their bonds with others. Biologic and environmental constraints notwithstanding, men always have the freedom and the ability to refine and enlarge their Heaven-endowed nobility (their great body). The possibility of continuously refining and enlarging the self is vividly illustrated in Mencius' description of degrees of excellence: He who commands our liking is called good (shan). He who is sincere with himself is called true (hsin). He who is sufficient and real is called beautiful (mei). He whose sufficiency and reality shine forth is called great (ta). He whose greatness transforms itself is called sagely (sheng). He whose sageliness is beyond our comprehension is called spiritual (shen). (VIIB:25) Furthermore, Mencius asserted that if men fully realize the potential of their hearts, they will understand their nature; by understanding their nature, they will know Heaven. Learning to be fully human, in this Mencian perspective, entails the cultivation of human sensitivity to embody the whole universe as one's lived experience: All the 10,000 things are there in me. There is no greater joy for me than to find, on self-examination, that I am true to myself. Try your best to treat others as you would wish to be treated yourself, and you will find that this is the shortest way to humanity. (VIIA:4) The Confucian revival The Buddhist conquest of China and the Chinese transformation of Buddhism, a process entailing the introduction, domestication, growth, and appropriation of a distinctly Indian form of spirituality, lasted for at least six centuries. Since Buddhist ideas were introduced to China via Taoist categories and since the development of the Taoist religion benefited from having Buddhist institutions and practices as models, the spiritual dynamics in medieval China was characterized by Buddhist and Taoist values. The reemergence of Confucianism as the leading intellectual force thus involved both a creative response to the Buddhist and Taoist challenge and an imaginative reappropriation of classical Confucian insights. Furthermore, after the collapse of the T'ang dynasty, the grave threats to the survival of Chinese culture from the Khitan, the Juchen (Chin), and later the Mongols prompted the literati to protect their common heritage by deepening their communal critical self-awareness. To enrich their personal knowledge as well as to preserve China as a civilization-state, they explored the symbolic and spiritual resources that made Confucianism a living tradition. The Sung masters The Sung dynasty (9601279) was militarily weak and much smaller than the T'ang, but its cultural splendour and economic prosperity were unprecedented in human history. The Sung's commercial revolution produced flourishing markets, densely populated urban centres, elaborate communication networks, theatrical performances, literary groups, and popular religionsdevelopments that tended to remain unchanged into the 19th century. Technological advances in agriculture, textiles, lacquer, porcelain, printing, maritime trade, and weaponry demonstrated that China excelled in the fine arts as well as in the sciences. The decline of the aristocracy, the widespread availability of printed books, the democratization of education, and the full implementation of the examination system produced a new social class, the gentry, noted for its literary proficiency, social consciousness, and political participation. The outstanding members of this class, such as the classicists Hu Yan (9931059) and Sun Fu (9921057), the reformers Fan Chung-yen (9891052) and Wang An-shih (102186), the writer-officials Ou-yang Hsiu (100772) and Su Shih (pen name of Su Tung-p'o; 10361101), and the statesman-historian Ssu-ma Kuang (101986), contributed to the revival of Confucianism in education, politics, literature, and history and collectively to the development of a scholarly official style, a way of life informed by Confucian ethics. The Confucian revival, understood in traditional historiography as the establishment of the lineage of the Tao-hsueh (Learning of the Tao), nevertheless can be traced through a line of Neo-Confucian thinkers from Chou Tun-i (101773) by way of Shao Yung (101177), Chang Tsai (102077), the brothers Ch'eng Hao (103285) and Ch'eng I (10331107), and the great synthesizer Chu Hsi (11301200). These men developed a comprehensive humanist vision in which cultivation of the self was integrated with social ethics and moral metaphysics. In the eyes of the Sung literati this new philosophy faithfully restored the classical Confucian insights and successfully applied them to the concerns of their own age. Chou Tun-i ingeniously articulated the relationship between the great transformation of the cosmos and the moral development of human beings. In his metaphysics, humanity, as the recipient of the highest excellence from Heaven, is itself a centre of cosmic creativity. He developed this all-embracing humanism by a thought-provoking interpretation of the Taoist diagram of T'ai Chi (Great Ultimate). Shao Yung elaborated on the metaphysical basis of human affairs, insisting that a disinterested numerological mode of analysis is most appropriate for understanding the supreme principles governing the world. Chang Tsai, on the other hand, focused on the omnipresence of ch'i (vital energy). He also advocated the oneness of li (principle; comparable to the idea of Natural Law) and the multiplicity of its manifestations, which is created as the principle expresses itself through the vital energy. As an article of faith he pronounced in the Western Inscription: Heaven is my father and Earth is my mother, and even such a small being as I finds a central abode in their midst. Therefore that which fills the universe I regard as my body and that which directs the universe I consider as my nature. All people are my brothers and sisters, and all things are my companions. This theme of mutuality between Heaven and human beings, consanguinity between man and man, and harmony between man and nature was brought to fruition in Ch'eng Hao's definition of humanity as forming one body with all things. To him the presence of T'ien-li (Heavenly Principle) in all things as well as in human nature enables the human mind to purify itself in a spirit of reverence. Ch'eng I, following his brother's lead, formulated the famous dictum, self-cultivation requires reverence; the extension of knowledge consists in the investigation of things. By making special reference to ko-wu (investigation of things), he raised doubts about the appropriateness of focusing exclusively on the illumination of the mind in self-cultivation, as his brother seems to have done. The learning of the mind as advocated by Ch'eng Hao and the learning of the principle as advocated by Ch'eng I became two distinct modes of thought in Sung Confucianism. Chu Hsi, clearly following Ch'eng I's School of Principle and implicitly rejecting Ch'eng Hao's School of Mind, developed a pattern of interpreting and transmitting the Confucian Way that for centuries defined Confucianism not only for the Chinese but for the Koreans and the Japanese as well. If, as quite a few scholars have advocated, Confucianism represents a distinct form of East Asian spirituality, it is the Confucianism shaped by Chu Hsi. Chu Hsi virtually reconstituted the Confucian tradition, giving it new structure, new texture, and new meaning. He was more than a synthesizer; through conscientious appropriation and systematic interpretation he gave rise to a new Confucianism, known as Neo-Confucianism in the West but often referred to as Li Hseh (Learning of the Principle) in modern China. The Doctrine of the Mean and the Great Learning, two chapters in the Li chi, had become independent treatises and, together with the Analects and Mencius, had been included in the core curriculum of Confucian education for centuries before Chu Hsi's birth. But by putting them into a particular sequence, the Great Learning, the Analects, Mencius, and the Doctrine of the Mean, synthesizing their commentaries, interpreting them as a coherent humanistic vision, and calling them the Four Books, Chu Hsi fundamentally restructured the Confucian scriptural tradition. The Four Books, placed above the Five Classics, became the central texts for both primary education and civil service examinations in traditional China from the 14th century. Thus they have exerted far greater influence on Chinese life and thought in the past 600 years than any other book. As an interpreter and transmitter of the Confucian Way Chu Hsi identified which early Sung masters belonged to the lineage of Confucius and Mencius. His judgment, later widely accepted by governments in East Asia, was based principally on philosophical insight. Chou Tun-i, Chang Tsai, and the Ch'eng brothers, the select four, were Chu Hsi's cultural heroes. Shao Yung and Ssu-ma Kuang were originally on his list, but Chu Hsi apparently changed his mind, perhaps because of Shao's excessive metaphysical speculation and Ssu-ma's obsession with historical facts. Up until Chu Hsi's time the Confucian thinking of the Sung masters was characterized by a few fruitfully ambiguous concepts, notably the Great Ultimate, principle, vital energy, nature, mind, and humanity. Chu Hsi defined the process of the investigation of things as a rigorous discipline of the mind to probe the principle in things. He recommended a twofold method of study: to cultivate a sense of reverence and to pursue knowledge. This combination of morality and wisdom made his pedagogy an inclusive approach to humanist education. Reading, sitting quietly, ritual practice, physical exercise, calligraphy, arithmetic, and empirical observation all had a place in his pedagogical program. Chu Hsi reestablished the White Deer Grotto in present Kiangsi Province as an academy. It became the intellectual centre of his age and provided an instructional model for all schools in East Asia for generations to come. Chu Hsi was considered the preeminent Confucian scholar in Sung China, but his interpretation of the Confucian Way was seriously challenged by his contemporary, Lu Chiu-yan (Lu Hsiang-shan, 113993). Claiming that he appropriated the true wisdom of Confucian teaching by reading Mencius, Lu criticized Chu Hsi's theory of the investigation of things as fragmented and ineffective empiricism. Instead he advocated a return to Mencian moral idealism by insisting that establishing the great body (i.e., Heaven-endowed nobility) is the primary precondition for self-realization. To him the learning of the mind as a quest for self-knowledge provided the basis upon which the investigation of things assumed its proper significance. Lu's confrontation with Chu Hsi in the famous meeting at the Goose Lake Temple in 1175 further convinced him that Confucianism as Chu Hsi had shaped it was not Mencian. Although Lu's challenge remained a minority position for some time, his learning of the mind later became a major intellectual force in Ming China (13681644) and Tokugawa Japan (16031867).

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