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Old 04-11-2001, 11:46 AM   #1
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Post Confucius

How would you judge the teachings of Confucius in comparison to other religious leaders such as Buddha, Jesus, and Muhammed?
 
Old 04-11-2001, 12:41 PM   #2
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Confucius was a practical philosopher who had to contend with empires falling apart and worked as a civil servant. Siddartha and Jesus, were less practical in their outlook, living more as critics than implementers. Muhammed helped bring order to a relatively disorganized tribal society, but didn't inherit an empire.

Confucianism tends to respect existing status relationships in society, while Jesus tended to disrupt and question those relationships.

Confucianism, as I understand it, in principal at least, places a premium on leadership that is honest, while Buddhism, as I understand it, is more skeptical about the existence of truth.

Confucianism tends to favor involvement in the world, while Buddhism and Christianty seem to place a premium on withdrawing from the world.
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Old 04-12-2001, 11:46 PM   #3
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I would differentiate the two by who they are trying to "save".

Confucius was interested in helping society as a whole, and set down rules of living and business which helped the whole. The others are more about personal salvation and personal belief.

Also, Confucianism is closer to a "life philosophy" than a religion.
 
Old 04-12-2001, 11:53 PM   #4
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It could be said that Jesus, Buddha, and Muhammed wanted to help the individiual to find inner peace. Why would this be worse than trying to set guidelines for a society. Of course, we would grant that the followers of these leaders glorified them to the point where their teachings have been muddled.
 
Old 04-13-2001, 06:34 AM   #5
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I do know that Confucius started out as a non-religion, though later one could argue it now has been absorbed into some of the eastern religions.

Actually, I think several of the Chinese philosophies started out this was and later evolved into religions.

Anyhow, that's my 2 cents and it quite literally is only 2 cents worth as this is an area I am not to well versed in. Would be interested to learn more as well as hear a more authoritative answer to the thread Mr. Messsenger started.

-T
 
Old 04-14-2001, 09:07 PM   #6
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I regard Confucius as a great philosopher who is at least up there with Jesus. The difference between Confucius and Jesus and Buddha is that Confucius is known for what he said, while the latter two for the lives they lived. Buddha is considered great not for the words he spoke but his long quest for peace. Jesus is known for his sinlessness. If we grant that Confucius's writings are completely devoid of superstition, he seems like a real being. Jesus and Buddha, made into gods or given the mystery of one appear like stories to inspire rather than history to teach. Still, I think Buddha and Jesus, with the superstition stripped are virtuous individuals. I'd place Confucius over Jesus, but not necessarily Buddha.
 
Old 04-15-2001, 08:18 AM   #7
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Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Brad Messenger:
I regard Confucius as a great philosopher who is at least up there with Jesus. The difference between Confucius and Jesus and Buddha is that Confucius is known for what he said, while the latter two for the lives they lived. Buddha is considered great not for the words he spoke but his long quest for peace. Jesus is known for his sinlessness. If we grant that Confucius's writings are completely devoid of superstition, he seems like a real being. Jesus and Buddha, made into gods or given the mystery of one appear like stories to inspire rather than history to teach. Still, I think Buddha and Jesus, with the superstition stripped are virtuous individuals. I'd place Confucius over Jesus, but not necessarily Buddha.</font>
I find Confuscious uninteresting and surpassed by the Tao Te Ching and Chuang Tzu by leaps and bounds.

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Old 04-15-2001, 08:48 AM   #8
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For an idea of how the philosophy of Confucius has metamorphosized over the ages, one need only reflect upon the fact that his actual name (Kung-fu-tzu) is also the basis for the practice of Kung Fu (remember Cain? He still plays his part in repeats.)

I would say that all sorts of odd bits have been attached to the philosophies of Confucius since he lived so many centuries ago.

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Old 04-15-2001, 10:04 PM   #9
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Confucianism, as others have mentioned, began unhampered by supernatural aspects. Kung-Fu-Tzu's (Confucius') teachings were expanded upon by his disciples Mencius and Hsun Tzu.

Mencius essentially stressed the innate goodness of humankind. He used an example of a baby in a well -- if you are walking along and you see a child fall into a well, what is your first impulse? To save the child, of course. But not everyone would choose that -- because of their upbringing, environment, whatever. That is, their innate altruistic impulses were stifled by external forces. He was also very pragmatic in his ideas about governing a nation, stressing that emperors succeeded only if they kept the people happy.

Hsun Tzu, on the other hand, was much more pessimistic (I seem to recall reading that he lived during more chaotic times than Mencius). He thought that the human desire for material things was infinite, but the actual amount of material things was finite. Therefore human nature was not good, since unlimited desires were always competing for a limited amount of "stuff." I think this same idea shows up in economics under the name scarcity.

Then, years and years later, an advisor to one of the Han emperors named Tung Chung-shu claimed that the Five Classics on which Confucius had based his philosophy (for Confucius claimed that he only knew what he had read) had a secret "code". That is, you could "read between the lines" and discover NEW knowledge. Kind of like the Bible codes of today. This "code" contained secret wisdom (or something to that effect). Conveniently, only Tung Chung-shu knew the codes, and was therefore the only one who could decipher what was really going on in the Five Classics. Of course in reality Tung Chung-shu was just manipulating the emperor, but Confucianism's basis in naturalism took something of a blow.

Then, a few dynasties later, Chu Hsi created what came to be known as neo-Confucianism. Born of Chu Hsi's attempt to fuse Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism (the three major "religions" in China at the time), this new system is IMO a combination of Aristotle and Descartes. Chu Hsi thought that the world consisted of two major elements -- Li, or eternal and unchanging "stuff", and Chi, which is the physical matter Li is made of. (Sort of like Aristotle's form and matter.)

Neo-Confucianism appealed to the intellectual elite of the time because it involved a system of metaphysics, whereas before Confucianism had been mainly social and ethical philosophy.

Chu Hsi took it a step further and claimed that the Li of humanity was "filial piety" -- or the relationship between father and son, superior and inferior, strong and weak. I.e. the nature of humanity was to follow this pattern, and this "filial piety" was the ultimate good of humanity. Naturally this opened the door for less than ideal governmental practices.

Anyway, this is all from my notes on a class I took last semester on Chinese civilization. I knew they'd come in handy later...

Now for my personal opinion: I agree wholeheartedly with DChicken -- I much prefer the Tao Te Ching myself.

[This message has been edited by Monkeybot (edited April 15, 2001).]
 
Old 04-16-2001, 08:31 AM   #10
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Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Monkeybot:
[B]Then, years and years later, an advisor to one of the Han emperors named Tung Chung-shu claimed that the Five Classics on which Confucius had based his philosophy (for Confucius claimed that he only knew what he had read) had a secret "code". That is, you could "read between the lines" and discover NEW knowledge. Kind of like the Bible codes of today. This "code" contained secret wisdom (or something to that effect). Conveniently, only Tung Chung-shu knew the codes, and was therefore the only one who could decipher what was really going on in the Five Classics. Of course in reality Tung Chung-shu was just manipulating the emperor, but Confucianism's basis in naturalism took something of a blow.
[B]</font>
Have you ever seen parallel translations of Confucius' analects? T.R. Reid, in his book "Confucius Lives Next Door" compares several translations of key passages, and they are so different, that looking at the translations you would never guess that they came from the same source. Maybe there is a hidden code.

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