The Teachings Of Confucius Essay

3809 words - 15 pages

IntroductionFew men have had a greater impact on humanity than Chinese philosopher Confucius. His teachings, focused on the pursuit of self actualization, have been a cornerstone of Asian culture for centuries. Many of Confucius' disciples went on to hold prominent positions in Chinese society, spreading his ideology to the masses. So important are his teachings that Confucianism is often referred to as a religion. Although Confucius believed mainly in the individual improving their self, he felt that doing so would also improve society as a whole. His belief system, which included several archetypes, lifted him to an iconic status that survives today.BiographyConfucius rose above what could be described as a moderate social status to become one of the premier thinkers in history. Known by the Chinese name of Kong Fuzi, Confucius lived from approximately 551 BC-479 BC (Collins, 2008, p. 161). Confucius is reported to have grown up in poverty, but his mother nonetheless ensured that he got the proper educationaltraining. A study by Noss (1967), said that as part of his intellectual training, Confucius studied the traditional "Six Disciplines" - history, poetry, government, propriety, music, and divination (p. 371). He was also an avid sportsman, and enjoyed hobbies such as fishing, hunting, and archery. In his early twenties, Confucius was given a government post, and hoped to advance in his political career (Smart, 1969, p. 145).Confucius' early years were marked with tragic events other than his father's death. In his early twenties, Confucius married a woman who bore him a son, but the marriage ended shortly thereafter. Soon after the birth of his son, Confucius' mother passed away. According to JohnNoss (1967), author of the book Man's Religions, "this was a great personal tragedy to Confucius. He subsequently retired from public life and entered into a traditional 27 month mourning period" (p. 371). Following this mourning period, Confucius began a new career as a teacher, and he offered instruction in the very "Six Disciplines" in which he had originally been trained.Confucius displayed a social awareness early in life that would serve as the cornerstone of his philosophy. According to Overmyer (1986):He came to realize that what was needed were moral principles that applied to everyone,principles, such as justice, honesty, and love, that could be followed in all situations. Hebelieved that these principles were the will of Heaven for human beings, in particular, for theruler and his officials, who were supposed to rule for the benefit of the people. (p. 28)Using these core beliefs, Confucius formed a detailed approach to life that has been taught and admired for centuries.Although Confucius is often portrayed as a kind and gentle figure, and he preached such beliefs, many of his quotations and teachings imply contempt for women. Professor Harold Watts (1964) said "Confucius so inculcated in his disciples the superiority of a purely...

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