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Reflection on Ethical Teachings Found in Confucianism

Confucianism is one of the ancient philosophical and religious teaching which was and stilly remains to be extremely popular in Asia, especially in China and which value may be viewed as universal and potentially can be applied to different societies. Nonetheless, till the present days, Confucianism remains a typically Chinese philosophy and religion since it is perfectly adapted to Chinese culture, mentality, and traditions. Anyway, it is due to the Chinese philosopher, Confucius this movement actually appeared.
On analyzing Confucianism, it is necessary to underline that ethics is one of the central points in this religious and philosophical teaching. Basically, Confucianism has developed a profound ethical values and norms related to practically all aspects of human life on different levels. In this respect, it should be said that Confucian ethics basically promotes obedience and respect to the existing social order and tends to strict structuring of societal relation on different levels.
One of the basic ethical norms of Confucianism is the necessity to follow the established rituals and etiquette. It is worthy of mention that the founder of the teaching, Confucius attempted to revive old etiquette. This is probably why the norms of etiquette developed by him are very important to his followers. Practically, it means that an individual should respect old traditions and act in accordance to the existing social norms.
To put it more precisely, a follower of Confucianism is supposed to be honest and trustworthy person and lie is totally unacceptable. This is why, according to Confucianism, individuals should fulfill their promises, be frank to other people in order to meet the basic virtues of Confucianism, i.e. honesty and trustworthiness.
Furthermore, Confucian ethics also regulates relations within a family. Basically, Confucianism promotes love within the family that is quite natural, notably parents should love children and children, in their turn, should love their parents. At the same time, typically for Oriental culture, Confucianism promotes obedience to parents and the great role in the family should be played by older people. Practically, it means that, according to Confucianism, older people are the highest authority within the family.
At the same time, it is worthy of noting that familial relations are extrapolate on the entire society and state at large. To put it more precisely, Confucianism obviously supports the strict social hierarchy where the relationships between the ruling elite and the masses of people are quite paternalistic that may be observed on all levels. For instance, within a community there may be a leader that possesses the highest authority while the rest of the members of the community should obey to the leader, who should take care about his communitarians. The same may be said about the relationship between the head of the state and people. In fact, the head of the state is viewed as a father of nation, who should be honored and respected, and, in response, he should care about well-being of his people.
Obviously, such ethical norms seem to be well-structured and typical for Oriental societies and they are quite good in principle but, at the same time, they are hardly applicable in the modern society, at least in the west. It proves beyond a doubt that the paternalistic system of relations and the dominance of collectivism over individualism make this teaching unacceptable for developed democracies. Otherwise, the modern democracies would need to refuse form a substantial part of individual freedom obeying to norms and traditions which promote the preservation of a rigid structure and social hierarch of society where an individual cannot rebel or be different from the community and protest against the will of its leaders, but instead he/she should respect and obey the authorities.


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