Confucius Temple & Burial Site (YouTube)
Confucius Temple, Beijing (YouTube)
Confucius A&E Biography http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VAtcVMW1fy0
The Great Learning
Doctrine of the Mean
- Focusing the Familiar: A Translation and Philosophical Interpretation of the Zhongyong, by Roger T. Ames, David L. Hall (Google Book)
Foundations in Chinese Philosophy: Confucianism
Lecture Notes (Moses started 1/30/2008)
Based on Wing-Tsit Chan. A Source Book in Chinese Philosophy (Princeton UP, 1973).
The Four Books
These ancient texts were grouped together by Chu Hsui (Zhu Xi; Chu Yuan-hui 1130-1200) who made them the foundation of his social and ethical philosophy. "From 1313 to 1905 the Four Books were the basis of the civil service examinations. As a result, they have exercised far greater influence on Chinese life and thought in the last six hundred years than any other Classic" (Chan 589). The Four Books are:
- The Great Learning
- The Analects (of Confucius)
- Book of Mencius: classic commentary on Analects
- The Doctrine of the Mean: an early "Confucian" work, no younger than Han dynasty (206 BCE - 220 CE) :*(Chan 97 fn)
Confucius K'ung Ch'iu (the great K'ung; K'ung Fu-tzu: 551-479 BCE) was the first in China to dedicate his life to teaching; taught for character not just vocational prep; taught "anyone"; and organized a community of scholars; "molded Chinese civilization in general" (Chan 15-17).
- The Great Learning: a brief chapter of the Li chi (Book of Rites) with commentaries; regarded as authentic record of Confucius' teachings by student or relative (Chan 85 fn)
"The way of learning to be great (or adult education) consists in manifesting the clear character, loving the people, and abiding (chih) in the highest good."
"Only after knowing what to abide in can one be calm. Only after having been calm can one be tranquil. Only after having achieved tranquility can one have peaceful repose. Only after having peaceful repose can one begin to deliberate. Only after deliberation can the end be attained." (Chan 86)
See The Great Learning online at MIT Classic: http://classics.mit.edu/Confucius/learning.html
- The Analects
Chan discusses five fundamental concepts:
(1) rectification of names: ordering names appropriately, between named roles in social order, between words and deeds, between words and things (Chan 15-16).
"12.11. Duke Ching of Ch'i asked Confucius about government. Confucius replied: 'Let the ruler be a ruler, the minister be a minister, the father be a father, and the son be a son.' The duke said, "Excellent! Indeed when the ruler is not a ruler, the minister not a minister, the father not a father, and the son not a son, although I may have all the grain, shall I ever get to eat it?" (Chan 39)
(see Plato's Republic)
"12.17. Chi K'ang Tzu asked Confucius about government. Confucius replied, "To govern (cheng) is to rectify (cheng). If you lead the people by being rectified yourself, who will dare not be rectified?" (Chan 40)
"13.3. . . ."If names are not rectified, then language will not be in accord with truth. If language is not in accord with truth, then then things cannot be accomplished. If things cannot be accomplished, then ceremonies and music will not flourish. If ceremonies and music do not flourish, then punishment will not be just. If punishments are not just, then people will not know how to move hand or foot. Therefore the superior man will give only names that can be described in speech and say only what can be carried out in practice. With regard to his speech, the superior man does not take it lightly. . . ." (Chan 40)
"13.6. Confucius said, "If a ruler sets himself right, he will be followed without his command. If he does not set himself right, even his commands will not be obeyed." (Chan 41)
(2) the Mean: not "merely moderation, but that which is central and balanced" (Chan 16).
(3) the Way (Tao):
(4) Heaven (T'ien): ultimate source of order, more in terms of principle than personal divinity (Chan 16)
(5) Humanity (jen): the term is used 105 times; chun-tzu (superior man) is used 107 times (Chan 15-16). Confucius centered humanity as the principle concern of the superior man.
See the Analects of Confucius at MIT Classics: http://classics.mit.edu/Confucius/analects.html
Mencius (371-289 BCE) declared that human nature is "originally good" (Chan 49-50)
(1) innate knowledge and ability to do good
(2) heaven and destiny can be served by developing mind to utmost
(3) evil results from failure; not inborn
(4) recovering our original nature requires serious effort
(5) seek the lost mind (see Plato's Recollection)
- The Book of Mencius
"6A:2 ... Man's nature is naturally good just as water naturally flows downward. There is no man without this good nature; neither is there water that does not flow downward. ...
"6A:6 ... Therefore it is said, 'Seek and you will find it, neglect and you will lose it.' ...
(see Hume's moral sense)
"6A:11. Mencius said, "Humanity is man's mind and righteousness is man's path. Pity the man who abandons the path and does not follow it, and who has lost his heart and does not know how to recover it. When people's dogs and fowls are lost, they go to look for them, and yet, when they have lost their hearts, they do not go to look for them. The way of learning is none other than finding the lost mind." (Chan 58)
See the Book of Mencius at sacred-texts.com: http://www.sacred-texts.com/cfu/menc/
See selections from the Book of Mencius at humanistictexts.org: http://www.humanistictexts.org/mencius.htm
- The Doctrine of the Mean like the Great Learning, this comes from a chapter of the Li Chi (Book of Rites). It is a discourse on psychology and metaphysics, and "its subtle doctrines had strong appeal to both Taoists and Buddhists" (Chan 95-96).
In Chinese the name of the book is chung-yung (zhong-yong): "chung means what is central and yung means what is universal and harmonious. The former refers to human nature, the latter to its relation to the universe. Taken together it means that there is harmony in human nature and that this harmony underlies our moral being and prevails throughout the universe. In short, man and Nature form a unity. Here is an early expression of the theory that was to dominate Chinese thought throughout its history" (Chan 96).
"1. What Heaven (T'ien, Nature) imparts to man is called human nature. To follow our nature is called the Way (Tao). Cultivating the way is called education. The way cannot be separated from us for a moment. What can be separated from us is not the Way. Therefore the superior man is cautious over what he does not see and apprehensive over what he does not hear. There is nothing more visible than what is hidden and nothing more manifest than what is subtle. Therefore the superior man is watchful over himself when he is alone.
"Before the feelings of pleasure, anger, sorrow, and joy are aroused it is called equilibrium (chung, centrality, mean). When these feelings are aroused and each and all attain due measure and degree, it is called harmony. Equilibrium is the great foundation of the world, and harmony its universal path. When equilibrium and harmony are realized to the highest degree, heaven and earth will attain their proper order and all things will flourish." (Chan 98)
See the Doctrine of the Mean at MIT Classics: http://classics.mit.edu/Confucius/doctmean.html
An anthology of materials from The Four Books has been made available by Daniel K. Gardner. The Four Books: The Basic Teachings of the Later Confucian Tradition. (Indianapolis: Hackett, 2007). He translates the title of the Doctrine of the Mean as "Maintaining Perfect Balance."
A Contemporary Issue
Dennis Patterson. On the Conceptual and the Empirical: A CRITIQUE OF JOHN MIKHAIL’S COGNITIVISM. Brooklyn Law Review. 73.2 (2008) 611-623. Posted at Neuroethics & Law Blog, http://kolber.typepad.com/. Accessed 2008/02/10.
"The normativity of rule-following -- the ground of correctness and incorrectness -- is not to be found in the agreement of others as such. Rather, the agreement of rule-followers over time is the ground of understanding" (Patterson 618).
cf. Confucius: "13.3. . . ."If names are not rectified, then language will not be in accord with truth. If language is not in accord with truth, then then things cannot be accomplished. If things cannot be accomplished, then ceremonies and music will not flourish. If ceremonies and music do not flourish, then punishment will not be just. If punishments are not just, then people will not know how to move hand or foot. Therefore the superior man will give only names that can be described in speech and say only what can be carried out in practice. With regard to his speech, the superior man does not take it lightly. . . ." (Chan 40) (On the Rectification of Names in The Four Books).
Q: For Confucius, what is the ground of the rectification of names: "the agreement of others as such" or "the agreement of rule-followers over time"?