Confucianism in Cultural Studies

Running heads: CONFUCIANISM IN CULTURAL STUDIES 1

Confucianismin Cultural Studies

Confucianismin Cultural Studies

Confucianismis a term that has been used to describe a philosophical and ethicalsystem often regarded as a religion that is traced back to theteachings of Confucius, a Chinese philosopher. In other community theword is used to refer to diverse philosophical movements from ancientEast Asia. China and Japan were the pioneers of Confucianism but overthe years the teachings have changed leading to differences. However,there are teachings that are still being practiced by both China andJapan.

Confucianismhas main concepts that acts as the principles of Confucianism. Thetwin concepts of Jen and Li forms the basis of Confucianism. Jenstands for the benevolence, human heartedness, man to man-ness andgoodness. It is what gives human beings their humanity as well asmaking man distinctively human. Li is the principle of benefit, gain,propriety and order that dictates the concrete guide to humanactions.

Confucianismhas always been characterized as more of a social system and ethicalphilosophy than a religion. As a matter of fact, Confucianism has itsfoundation on ancient religion that has established institutions,social values and inspirational ideals of the ancient Chinesesociety. Various scholars and sociologists have had different ways ofexpounding on the matter.

Theideal description is that it is a diffused religion of which itsinstitutions were not different churches instead they were those ofthe community, school, state and family. In addition, its religiousleaders such as priests were not regarded as particular liturgicalspecialists instead they were ordinary teachers, official andparents. Confucianism was the center of the Chinese society as wellas a way of life. According to Confucians, religion is a part ofeveryday life.

MasterKong also known as Confucius was the founder of Confucianism helived between 551 and 479 BC. It was not his objective to start a newreligion. However, he wanted to provide and interpretation and at thesame time provide the unspecified religion of Zhou dynasty. Underthis religion, people had associated the ancient systems of religiousrule to be corrupt and doubt of why the gods were not preventing thesocial mayhem.

Therewas confusion amongst the people since they now did not know what thebasis for an enduring, stable and unifying social order. He appliedthe term ritual differently and associated it with actions that gobeyond the sacrifices and ceremonies. He incorporated the socialmores that are the accepted standards of behavior and courtesies. Herecognized that only a civilized society could have a unified,enduring and stable social order.

Thereforeaccording to Chinese Confucianism, it was the declaration of theconventional values and norms of behavior in primary socialinstitutions and fundamental human relationship. In all humanrelationships, there is the involvement of a set of roles andobligations that each and every member of the community ought tounderstand and be conventional to his/her role. After its adoption,Confucian values have been used to institute and maintain law andorder, as well as the status quo.

Onthe other side of Confucianism, Confucius not only emphasized onsocial rituals but also humaneness. Confucianism stands for love andkindness not as one virtue but the source of all the other virtues.It has been the basis for Chinese character that stands forco-humanity that is the ability to live with one another like humanother than crumbling like birds or beasts. Confucianism is builtfrom both the outer and inner aspects.

Theouter side of Confucianism is made up of conformity and acceptance ofsocial roles whereas the inner side is the cultivation of characterand conscience. The cultivation involved extensive education andreflection on one’s role. The inner pole of Confucianism was to beidealistic, spiritual and reformist. These poles provide an idealplatform for family interaction where members always treated eachother with respect, love and consideration of other members’ needs.The idealistic aspects of Confucianism led to a Confucian reformationthat resulted to Neo-Confucianism.

Untilthe late 1890s, the Chinese people who were serious followers ofConfucianism regarded Confucianism as a source of hope for China andas the heart of being Chinese. It was part of the Chinese culture,and it provided clear guidelines on how people should live togetheras one in harmony. Confucianism acted as a checklist for the Chinesesociety on how to maintain friendships, families, parenthood.However, as much as since the revolution, the Peoples’ Republic ofChina has deserted the Confucian teachings, there is still acontinuous for. It is found in other teachings such as Maoism thatalso teach on commitment to the society. Confucianism is synonymousto the Chinese way of life.

Similarto earlier in china, Confucianism in Japan played a considerable partin the composition of ethical and political philosophies. It had animpact mostly during the formative years of Japan in the 6thand 9thcenturies. During the same centuries, Buddhism and Confucianism wereintroduced in Japan and Korea. Shotoku Taishi was a Japanese princewho is regarded as the first great patron of Buddhism andConfucianism in Japan. He prepared a 17 article constitution thatcontained Confucianism ethics that formed the basis for morals in theyoung Japanese nation. It came to serve as a blueprint for the courtand etiquette and decorum for centuries in Japan.

Menciuswas better known as Master Meng in the ancient China he was aChinese thinker who lived in the 4thcentury. He was as important as Confucius and played a major role inthe Confucian tradition. He interpreted the teachings of Confuciusand added up his philosophies in the teaching of Confucianism.

Heremains famous for his detailed theory of the human nature. Accordingto Mencius, all humans share a common goodness that can either beshared through education and self discipline or squandered throughneglect and negative influence but it is never lost altogether. Histeachings received support from influential mediaeval thinkers suchas Zhu Xi. His teachings are still applicable today there iscontemporary philosophical interest in evolutionary psychology andsociobiology has inspired fresh appraisals of Mencius. He remains aperennially attractive figure for those intrigued by moral psychologyof which he was the foremost practitioner in early China.

However,after many years, in the Edo Period, Confucianism in Japanexperienced a revival of sorts that led to the establishment of arevised form of Confucianism known as Neo- Confucianism. It receiveda number of appeals from the warrior class and the elites whogoverned Japan. It brought to the table new man and the surroundingsecular society. It emphasizes on social responsibility in secularcontexts thus breaking away from the moral supremacy of the mightyBuddhist monasteries.

Mostscholars relate the origin of Neo- Confucianism in Japan with thedefining philosophy and teachings of Tokugawa Japan that originatedfrom a Chinese scholar who lived in China’s Southern Song period.The teachings stressed on the unity of the three creedsConfucianism, Buddhism and Taoism, which prior to that worked asthree different exclusive and contradictory. The unity was laterknown as the three religions. It has been presented in both Chineseand Japanese artworks known as the Three Patriarchs that emphasizethat the three creeds are one.

Incontrast to China, Confucianism in Japan did not inspire any greatschools of art in Japan. It failed to become a religion and did notgain much following in comparison to China. However, it had a greatinfluence in the curving of the Japanese social behavior. Inaddition, the teachings of Confucianism are still evident in themodern Japanese society but most of the Japanese people do notrecognize it since modern Japan is dressed predominately in Shintoand Buddhist apparel.

Inmost of the Japanese homes, they still keep the ancestral tablets andaltars that have a record of their deceased family members whichallow the family members to pay homage to their departed and theancestors. The use of altars and tablets in homes is as a result ofthe influence of the Confucianism. After the trounce of Japan in1945, the teachings of Confucianism received negative regards as aresult of their unfortunate appropriation by Inoue and otherphilosopher ideologues.

Thecore ethics of Confucian philosophy had been manipulated intoteaching loyalty to the imperial state and self-sacrifice for thesake of japans’ glory. Ever since the introduction of Confucianismin Japan, the Japanese people did not at any point refer Confucianismas a religion. It was regarded as a sect law or a sub sect or afaction these terms were used interchangeably in regards to Buddhismand Taoism. The Japanese government did not recognize Confucianism asa religion.

ModernJapanese societies still exhibit well functioning Confucian societywith Singapore being a healthy Confucian nation state. Japanese stillobserves the seniority system that involves the respect of the eldersthat is a Confucian teaching. Other Confucian teachings that arestill in practice in Japan include stable family structures, lowercrime rates, loyalty to the company of employment and Sempai systems.Japanese still uses the Bushido code of the warrior that wasprofoundly influenced by Confucianism. In the modern day Japan,Buddhism belongs to a universal group that is houses Christianity,Shintoism, Judaism and Islam with hardly any mention of Confucianism.

Inconclusion, the origin of Confucianism is in China and it is in thesame country that it has been practiced to the fullest to this day.Japan adopted the teaching, but they have been altered over the yearsresulting to Neo-Confucianism it is not recognized as it is inChina.

References

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