Confucius was a Chinese philosopher who developed many ideas and beliefs still in practice today. An appreciated master of education, Confucius had strong opinions about respect, values, and the importance of family. His quotations are still referenced for scholastic and social pursuits.
Unity Principle was the Golden Rule in Confucianism
Confucius’ ideas can be divided into many subcategories. The first one is that of the Unity Principle. This idea is one of loyalty and reciprocity, or the belief that actions will be responded to in kind. Reciprocity is still encouraged in modern cultures under the heading of the “golden rule.” Confucius also encouraged his followers to judge others only by using self-knowledge.
Virtue Created Ideal Humanity
Another category of Confucianist thought is that of Jen, or virtue. Confucius believed that five virtues combined to create the ideal humanity. These virtues were: courtesy (etiquette), magnanimity (generosity of spirit), good faith in the gods, diligence (conscientiousness), and kindness.
According to Confucianism, these virtues were the goals all people were to strive for. Confucius also believed that, if a person was wronged, they should respond with justice in judgement rather than revenge. Only when shown kindness should someone respond in the same manner.
Confucius and Respect for Parents, Even After Death
Confucius believed in the theory of filial piety, that children were required to respect their parents through life and even after death. This ideal dictated the manner in which children were authorized to treat their parents, even as the child entered adulthood.
Filial piety was a concept that Confucius used to explain his acceptance of extended mouring after the death of a parent. His justification for this time was that parents gave their whole selves to the first three years of their child’s life; therefore, it would only be right for a child to at least give up three years to honor his or her parent.
Confucius and the Rites Practiced
Confucius thought all people should exhibit li, which was a standard of conduct to be observed through the practice of rites. While he did have certain rules and regulations which were expected to be followed during these observances, Confucius was able to be flexible. Especially during funeral rituals, Confucius believed that the emotional sentiment behind the act was more important and valid than the act itself.
Confucius also believed that one’s actions on Earth would determine his/her place after death. He believed in prayer as a positive act of Heaven only for those who did not sin. Sinners were those that had lost the understanding ear of Heaven, and prayer was no longer an option for them.
Confucius and the Concept of the Gentleman as Perfection
The idea of The Gentleman was a very important tenet of Confucius’ philosophy. He believed that a gentleman was someone who perfectly exemplified the unity between art and nature. It was Confucius’ understanding that a gentleman exhibits humanity, wisdom, and bravery. The positive outcome of these actions would result in an individual with no faults.
Confucius did acknowledge that he was in no way achieving this standard. He also advised that a gentleman was someone who would always try to better himself, and would not be concerned with what others did.
Although Confucius lived thousands of years ago, many of his ideas still make sense in the modern era. Most believe that passing through life exhibiting kindness and respect for family cannot be a bad thing. It is certainly a philosophy and ideal that can be studied and continually learned from for years to come.