The Ethics of Confucius

Confucian teachings explain good government as a country or society as benevolent, united, and being run by a good official. A good official must have the five virtues. Confucius taught that a good government can also only be made good by the good official. The five virtues are: Li, which described one’s manners and etiquette; Ren, which stood for kindness towards others; Xin, which underscored truthfulness and a faithfulness to the society by which the official was governing; Yi, which described the official’s ability to be generous and honest; and Xiao, which Confucius stated was the official’s strong upbringing and family values. Regarding the superior human, Confucius taught” that every normal human being cherishes the aspiration to become a superior man—superior to his fellows, if possible, but surely superior to his own past and present self.” (Dawson, 1915) In other words, individuals should aspire to be the best they can be and better than the next man they encounter.

Ancestor rites are important because they allow the one worshiping the ancestor to commemorate or communicate with that particular deceased person. One of the most enduring practices of Confucius; this is very prominent in Asian cultures and eastern religions by those who believe in Confucius’ teachings and other religions as well.

The Tao Te Ching is a Chinese text written by Lao Tzu. Its principles and subjects vastly influenced what is now known as Taoism. Taoism is a religious practice by which one balances themselves in accordance with everything in the world. The Tao essentially is the foundational point or undercurrent that holds everything together in the universe.

A concept within Taosim, wu-wei, which means non-action, “refers to the cultivation of a state of being in which our actions are quite effortlessly in alignment with the ebb and flow of the elemental cycles of the natural world. It is a kind of “going with the flow” that is characterized by great ease and awake-ness, in which - without even trying - we’re able to respond perfectly to whatever situations arise.” (Reninger, 2011). Simply put, the concept is that individuals adapt to whatever life throws their way because the situations are a part of the life’s design.

The five great relationships, as described by Confucius are: ruler and subject; father and son; husband and wife; oldest son and younger brothers; and elders and juniors. Confucius taught that these particular relationships when discussing Li, which is one of the virtues that he referred to that every good official, should exhibit or have. The five great relationships should ultimately fall within what Confucius said is a good society.

The yin and yang are known as the polar opposites within the universe. It is a philosophical concept of how everything in the universe is interconnected. Often referred to when discussing the concept of Taoism, it could be said that Taoism is the yin and Confucianism is yang. Each has its principles and concepts and they both interact with each other. Where Daoism speaks more to the supernatural and the universe, Confucianism pertains more to self and how the self creates his or her ethics, morals and virtues.

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