Table of Contents
Introduction: The beginning of the essay involves a brief description of Confucianism as a school of thought. The description of the founder and views of scholars then follow. Some of the values in this system are also present.
Confucian Literati: This is a series of teachings that guide one to become a gentleman. Some of the values and virtues advocated for include humanity and devotion to superiors.
Similarities and differences between Literati and Analects: The essay compares and contrasts the two main aspects of Confucianism. This helps to highlight the specific aspects of the two components of Kong’s teachings.
Lord Grand Secretary: The essay further expounds on the ideas and measures taken by the Han Dynasty to maintain a strong army from Grand’s perspective.
Role of Confucianism in China under the Han Dynasty: There is comparison of the views of Lord Grand Secretary and the Literati towards the significance of Confucianism in Han dynasty.
Conclusion: The essay ends with an overview of the principles and challenges faced by Confucianism.
Confucianism is one of the major contributors not only to Chinese but also to Japanese and Korean cultures. It is a school of thought that superseded the other schools in influencing the culture of the Chinese. It advocates for harmony and prosperity. These teachings originated from the great scholar well known by the Latin name Confucius. However, some researchers doubt if all the values accorded to this sage are true and some move a step further in suggesting that he might be a theoretical man. They argue that he is a creation of the modern people. All the same, Confucius is associated with some of the best teachings in terms of values, respect and obedience.
Confucian Literati seeks to employ the philosophies of life and government (Pg 193). Kong Qui, also known as Confucius, believed that this was the only way that China could return to the old ways. He admired the olden days because of the characteristic state of harmony and justice. The term “Moral Way” summarizes all the teachings and principles of the Confucian Literati. Since the founder of these teachings was a conservative, one of the major aspects of these teachings is to transform the Chinese society and government. The government and society were to return to the values and practices of the Zhou era. This was an era that existed many centuries earlier.
The three main virtues that Kong championed in order to achieve a state of harmony and prosperity include devotion and service not only to parents but also to ancestors and superiors. This was the famous “filial piety” or in Chinese, “xiao” (Pg 93). The second virtue involved proper behavior and performance of the rituals. This was the so called “li”. Kong valued ritual performance that much that he even resigned from his job due to a bad performance of a ritual. It was a belief he held very dearly that he walked across several cities trying to convince the princes to apply his virtues. This was, however, disappointing in that no one really seemed to listen to him until his death. The third aspect of the virtues addressed humanity. In Chinese it is referred to as “ren”. This is a term that means human-heartedness, benevolence towards humanity, humanness or even nobility of heart. In advocating for devotion to parents and ancestors, the teachings
These are valid and concrete reasons worth a place in the books of honor. Devotion and service to any one is a big task. It is one of the reasons that most of the societies do not end up prosperous. The teachings of the Confucian Literati are therefore of great significance in education of the entire human race in terms of humility and obedience. In addition, devotion to parents, ancestors and superior shows great commitment to the principles and values of a society. This provides a venue for continuity, unity and strength among people of the same clan or locality. Proper behavior is also a strong argument towards the cause of prosperity of the society. Good mannerisms and behavior are very essential for the well being of any family or society at large. I believe it is appropriate for the society to engage in some of these actions at all levels to bring up people of integrity and honor. In a culture like that of the Chinese where performance of rituals was important both in their lives and religion, it was of great value that Kong advocated for a better way to do this.
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Similarities and differences between Literati and Analects
While Confucius taught about moral ways and upright men, he rarely wrote his work. However, it was his students who put most of the teachings in to paper in a document commonly referred to as Analects. The Analects and Literati were similar in certain aspects. There were differences as well. There is a great similarity between the filial piety found in the Analects and the Literati’s xiao. In the Analects, the conversations between the masters reflect some of the teachings and principles in xiao. For instance, Master you says that filial piety and brotherly obedience are perhaps the roots of humanity. In the Literati, Kong advocated for devotion and service. These two concepts are similar in that they both involve respect and understanding between two groups.
Another instance of similarity exists between the Shi or Gentleman found in the Analects and the Literati’s li that rooted for proper behavior and ritual performance. In the Analects, the Master says that a gentleman considers righteousness his major principle. He also practices the act of righteousness in accordance with the rituals. These are similar to Kong’s teaching and strong opinions about rituals and their performance.
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However, there is a difference in the two in the differences between a great man and a small man. In the Literati, there is no comparison between the two types of men while in the Analects, there is a detailed comparison between the two. The gentleman or great man is considered as one who fears the decree of Heaven, great men and sage’s words. On the other hand, the small man scorns great men and does not fear the decree of Heaven due to ignorance. He also mocks the teachings and words of the sage.
Lord Grand Secretary
Lord Grand Secretary (Sang Hongyang) advocated for profitability instead of humanity. He claimed that the only way to prevent and stop enemy ambush was to reinforce their defense and military personnel. They worked hard to build a strong army and conquer the other empires. He therefore saw no need for criticism of their tactics when it was clear that they worked in favor of the Han Dynasty. In the bid to support the army, the Grand Lord and the ruling power dipped in to various business activities previously dominated by private entrepreneurs. These business opportunities included manufacture of basic necessities like salt and iron. The government also supervised the production of liquor and taxed it heavily.
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Although these measures were to help maintain a strong army, they did not auger well with the rest of the population. This prompted a debate between the Grand Secretary and the advocators of Confucianism. The government measures did not suit the common people as they had to strain financially to accommodate the new government policies. According to the Literati, it was definitely wrong to sacrifice the well being of the people in the name of military success. The Grand Secretary, however, criticized them claiming that they were only vocal after the success of the policies. He believed that this was the only way to prevent the dynasty from succumbing to attacks from rival empires and organizations.
Role of Confucianism in China under the Han Dynasty
The Literati brings to the fore a humanity and intellectual perspective to the reign of the Han Dynasty. It claimed that the principle of the ruling men lied in nipping the bud wantonness and frivolity (Pg 130). They believed that the authorities should not use the prospect of profits to confuse the rest of the people. They strongly debated in favor of a government with rulers more concerned with cultivation of benevolence and righteousness instead of gain and loss. They viewed the government’s steps as a detriment to the development of gentlemen. They saw a decline in upholding of principles and values among the people. Instead of being human, people resorted to selfish ways in a bid to survive in the financially stormy environment.
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On the other hand, Lord Grand Secretary criticized the values put forward by the Literati, and in general the values of Confucianism. He did not agree or conform to the notions of humanity and equality as vocalized by the Literati. He did not approve of the criticism towards the measures put forward by the ruling authority. He was not the gentleman that the Literati preached and pushed forward especially via Confucianism.
The values advocated by Confucianism and related teachings are useful guidelines to the success of a society. Although widely used in Asia, these values can apply to any society. They promote a sense of respect, good mannerisms, devotion, performance of sacrifices and humanity. These are all strong principles and should apply to many. Many people fight for the success and implementation of these principles despite the pressure and challenges they face.