Confucius On Humanity Essay

2954 words - 12 pages

Confucius on Humanity


The basic conception of Confucius' philosophy is ren, i.e., humanity, while humanity is at the same time the leitmotiv of our epoch. This accounts for why the Confucian idea is close to contemporary readers and why his teaching principles and methods has maintained vitality throughout history. Confucius explained humanity as 'to love the people,' or 'to love the masses extensively.' This led him to provide equal opportunities in education and to carry out teaching activities in dialogue with his disciples. The overall development of everyone's potential ability constitutes the most important part of Confucius' notion of humanity. He practiced moral ...view middle of the document...

The main documents of Confucian philosophy consist in the recorded dialogues and discourses between him and his disciples. Thus it may be seen that his lectures sent forth an amiable intimacy, and his philosophy in that time could only be a naive empiricism brought forth by the special situation rather than a great set of speculative metaphysics.

I. Humanity Principle

The central idea of Confucian philosophy is REN, i.e. humanity, he explained that REN is to love the people," one could not love only his parents, brothers, sisters and sons," but ought to love the masses extensively. Here the "masses" did not signify specially certain kind of people. Its basic meaning is like what Buddha said of saving all the living creatures and Christ said of loving all the people including your enemy.

When his stables were burnt down, on returning from court, Confucius said, "Was anyone hurt?" He did not ask about the horses, those he asked about might be his home slaves to whom he had never discriminated, on the contrary, he showed extraordinary concern and love to them. Therefore, his humanity principle is both the foundation of his philosophy and criteria of his behavior.

This humanity principle was carried forward continuously by his disciples. One of his disciples Zixia said, "all people on the earth are brothers, why should a gentleman worry about shortage of brothers?" Mencius later related this loving -heart spirit as " respect my own elders and extend this respect to the other's elders, love my own youngsters and extend this love to the other's youngsters." During the past thousands of years, this universal love spirit has permeated into the cultural tradition of the nation, become life-maxims known to everybody. These maxims went down through history, and finally came to be Dr. Sun Yet-Sen's slogan UNIVERSAL LOVE. In modern life, it is this slogan that acts as an idea bridge leading to exchange with the world.

The theoretical basis of this humanity philosophy was stated in a negative way as" never do to others what you would not like them to do to you," that is, what to say, how to say, what to do, how to do, all must be examined from other people's angle, and in a positive way as "You yourself want to stand up in the world, than help others to do the same. You yourself want success, then help others to do the same." These activities manifesting conscious humanity should be practiced and strove for consciously. In the presence of humanity, one need not avoid competing with his teacher." Only by continuous effort in practice without slack can one approach the ideal personality of humanism gentleman. Once you face the test of life and death, " persons devoted to humanity will not seek to live at the expense of injuring humanity, and will even sacrifice their lives to preserve humanity." With the encouragement of Confucian words, countless Chinese sons and daughters advance wave upon wave to sacrifice for the country, thereby...

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