Confucius Was A Mere Preserver And Transmitter Of Tradition, While Muhammad Was An Innovator. Discuss The Validity Or Otherwise Of This Statement.

3140 words - 13 pages

Confucius was a Chinese philosopher, one of the most influential figures in Chinese history. (Ching p52) According to tradition, Confucius was born in the state of Lu of the noble K'ung clan in 551 BCE. (Bishop p14) His father, commander of a district in Lu, died three years after Confucius was born; leaving the family in poverty. Confucius nevertheless received a fine education. During the four years immediately after his marriage, poverty compelled him to perform menial labours for the chief of the district in which he lived. His mother died in 527 BCE, and after a period of mourning he began his career as a teacher, usually travelling about and instructing the small body of disciples that had gathered around him. His fame as a man of learning and character and his reverence for Chinese ideals and customs soon spread. Confucius described himself merely as a ‘transmitter of culture’, and for the majority of his teachings this is true, but claims can also be supported that he was a ‘conservative innovator’ in some of the ideas he presented. Unfortunately for Confucius, the fruits of his labours occurred long after his death.China’s traditional religion was ancient, diverse and as complex as the people themselves. It consisted of two indigenous traditions, Confucianism and Taoism, and later in the 1st century CE, Buddhism crept in from India. All three sat comfortably with the Chinese, often complimenting one another. Yet, religion was not restricted to the practices of these three. Ancient practices such as ancestor veneration and several other folk religions focussing on divination were commonly integrated. Amazingly, each of these aspects blended together to form a coherent whole, a concept that is extremely foreign to western understandings of religion. (Ching p31) Even today, such practices and beliefs are still an important aspect in Chinese religion. The principle hasn’t changed. The cosmic order or the forces behind the cosmic order can be consulted through such methods as divination, prophecy, exorcism and astrology. The ancient Chinese polytheistic gods were based on the forces of nature. The Chinese sacrificed to their gods in the hope of obtaining rewards and favours. The gods were subject to a strict hierarchy that was mirrored in Chinese society. Over several generations and under the rule of alternating dynasties, it came to consist of a Parthenon of gods with the god, Ti’en, also meaning heaven, as the supreme ruler of all. It was from this ancient tradition, Confucius based his teachings. (Ching pp62-63)Confucius lived in the second half of the Chou dynasty (c. 1027-256 BCE), a time when the feudal system was beginning to disintegrate and deception and depravity went unchecked; he deplored the disorder and lack of moral standards, and believed that the only solution was to convert people once more to the principles and precepts of the ancients. He therefore lectured his pupils on the ancient...

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