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英文儒学辩论章节 Debate over Confucianism in English

in 陈凯论坛 Kai Chen Forum 不自由,毋宁死! Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death! Sun Oct 16, 2011 10:12 am
by fountainheadkc • 1.387 Posts

From Free Republic: Debate over Confucianism in English



From Truthsearcher:

To: Mrs. Don-o

Have your ever heard of the Chinese Classical Book used to educated children for a centuries calling the "24 Filial Sons."

In it is a book all about how a good child will sacrifice their body, their life, to please their parents. In it are stories of people who are reward for killing their son so that there is more food for his mother, or the boy who let mosquito feast on him so that they won't bite his parents. All this is taught as virtue by the Confusianists for centuries to young children to brian wash them.

Female infanticide is prevalent in China not because of the Communists, but the adherence to traditional Confusician notion of female inferiority. Female infanticide has been prevalent in China throughout its history.

I'll read MATTEO RICCI's writings and respond to that later.


33 posted on Friday, September 15, 2006 1:50:31 PM by Truthsearcher
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To: Truthsearcher

I am not familiar with "24 Filial Sons." Do you know of anyplace that has the text or excerpts online? Is it a work of Confucius himself? And is it being promoted by the education and cultural leaders of China today?

Filial piety is in general a virtue, as it is in conformity with natural law. Of course, killing a child to benefit his parents would be a terrible distortion; murdering one's child is never morally licit. Did Confucius endorse female infanticide? (I can't imagine Matteo Ricci admiring Confucius, if he did!)

You said that the philosophy of Confucius is "secular humanism," and the children are "brainiwashed" into it. This raises important questions:

(1) Do you distinguish between Natural Law, and Secular Humanism?

They do have this in common: that they do not make reference to a god who is the supreme lawgiver/judge, and their aim is "the good life" in strictly this-worldly terms.

Beyond this, I would argue that the terms are by no means synonymous, and in some ways contrasting. Natural Law is generally centered around the natural use of the bodily and mental faculties: ethically it is usually family-centered, communitarian, and expressed in customary and traditional practice.

Secular humanism is organized around liberty in pursuing personal fulfillment; it is individual-centered, it valorizes autonomy, and it is expressed in principles of legal rights.

(2) Brainwashing is a method that uses coercive and traumatic techniques such as drugs, sleep deprivation, exposure to heat and cold, hunger, and other physical duress to convince a person to abandon some of their basic beliefs and adopt the beliefs of the indoctrinator.

The term xi nao(Chinese, literally "to wash the brain") was first applied to methodologies of coercive persuasion which the Maoists used in the "reconstruction" of the so-called feudal thought patterns of Chinese citizens raised under prerevolutionary regimes. Thus it's historically linked to anti-Confucianism, not Confucianism.

I don't think that ordinary Chinese parents raising their children to be hard-working, honest, obedient, and respectful of parents, teachers, and elders, can accurately be charged with "brainwashing" their children. These are the ordinary aims of any patriarchal culture. You can find good examples of these principles in the Proverbs, and -- as I mentioned before --- in the Pauline Epistles.


34 posted on Friday, September 15, 2006 5:35:48 PM by Mrs. Don-o ("The purpose of human life lies in one's obedience to the Lord of Heaven." -- Matteo Ricci)
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35 posted on Friday, September 15, 2006 6:01:48 PM by little jeremiah
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To: Wuli
Re #4

Confucianism has a room for abuse because it puts the monarch as a father of the nation, to which filial piety is also extended. Children cannot kick out their father in Confucian teaching. Mencius advanced the idea of 'mandate of heaven' to fix this problem. Still, it is something which can be invoked as a last resort, because it implies dynastic change and ensuing chaos. It is not like firing your boss.

Chicoms try to revert to semi-dynastic rule via Politburo in order to survive. To bring them down could also require resurrecting another age-old idea, the rise of semi-religious or fully religious sect. A variation of Maitreya cult.


36 posted on Friday, September 15, 2006 6:07:58 PM by TigerLikesRooster
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To: Mrs. Don-o

Let me address your points one by one.

The "24 Filial Sons" is a historical textbook used for centuries in China to educate young children. It is not the work of Confucius, it is the work of Confucianists. It is not promoted by leaders today. However the values it promotes has permeated throughout Chinese culture for centuries.

I want to make it clear that Confucianism is not the same as reading Confucius. I actually have some respect for the man, not a lot mind you, but some. Confucianism as opposed to the writings of Confucius, is the aggretate collection of doctrines that have accumulated through centuries of Confucianists writings. When people say a return to Confucianism, they don't mean for everyone to just read Confucius, they mean for everyone to adopt this collective set of doctrines, and I'm here to tell you that most of these doctrines were establish by so-called scholars whose only interest is help the imperial regime strengthen their control of the people.

No, Confucius did not endorse female infanticide, but it is the natural outcome of a set of social values that considers woman inferior to men. It's akin to asking if Karl Marx endorsed the gulags. Of course not, but the inevitable consequences of trying to put Marxism into practice are the gulags. Which is why every Communist regime inevitably has some kind of gulag like institution.

Beyond female infanticide, even the women who aren't killed are mutilated. Can you imagine an adult woman with feet that are 3 inches long as a result of being bound from the age they are 4 or 5? That's what happened in China for a thousand years and was still in practice just less than 100 years ago. It was only encountering the West that caused the cessation of this mutilation.

Of course I distinguish between natural law and secular humanism. Confucianism is ultimately a form of secular humanism with one exception. The goal of the secular
humanism that you are talking about is meant to achieve individual fulfillment. Whereas the Confucian ideaology is all about the collective, personified by the ruler. It says little about Justice, only "Loyalty". For example, Confucius himself said that if the parent commits a crime, it is wrong for the son to testify against him, but the son's duty to help cover up for his parent. Translated onto the political scene this equates to: the subject should not care about the whether the ruler is doing justice, it is the subject's duty to defend his ruler regardless, because "Loyalty" is the ultimate good, not Justice.

This is partially why Communism was so successful in seducing the population of China, because for centuries they have been prepared by Confucianism. The concept of individual rights was foreign to China until they encountered the West. The idea that all men are equal is also an anathema. Which is why the idea that Confucianism prepares the people for Christianity is ABSURD.

As for brainwashing. I am talking about a system of indoctrination, both social and through schools, that begin at a very young age. This is why it is very difficult for a Chinese person to break free from that type of thinking, because he never encounters any competing set of values.

"I don't think that ordinary Chinese parents raising their children to be hard-working, honest, obedient, and respectful of parents, teachers, and elders, can accurately be charged with "brainwashing" their children."
If that were all it was, then I'd agree with you. But like I have written above, the ultimate goal of creating obedient children isn't so that they'll respect their parents, it is that obedient children will make obedient subjects. So they don't just learn to respect their parents, they learn this entire set of values, much of it noxious.

Confucius was an advisor to the rulers of his age. Most of his writings were mostly a set of instructions and advice to the King (he lived before China had emperors) about how to rule, and what set of values to promote in the people so the ruler can best maintain his rule. In that respect you should think of it akin to The Prince by Machiavelli.


37 posted on Friday, September 15, 2006 6:32:03 PM by Truthsearcher
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To: Truthsearcher

Thank you for his long and careful reply. It has given me a lot to think about.

I am not sure that individualism as we know it today, was much emphasized in the New Testament. You'll find very little there about individual rights, or gratification, or self-actualization, or fulfillment (I don't think you'll even find the word "individual" in a Biblical concordance) and the ethical codes are explicitly heirarchical.

Ephesians 6:1-10

"Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER (which is the first commandment with a promise), SO THAT IT MAY BE WELL WITH YOU, AND THAT YOU MAY LIVE LONG ON THE EARTH.

"Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

"Slaves, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ; not by way of eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart.

"With good will render service, as to the Lord, and not as to men, knowing that whatever good thing each one does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether slave or free.

"And masters, do the same things to them, and give up threatening, knowing that both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him."


Proverbs 6:20

"My son, observe the commandment of your father And do not forsake the teaching of your mother" etc. etc.

Proverbs 23:22

"Listen to your father who begot you, And do not despise your mother when she is old."


Colossians 3:18 - 28

"Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.

"Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.

"Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord."

"Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.

"Slaves, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality. "


Confucius' view is, I would say, closer to the Christian family code found in the epistles of Paul, than it is to the secular individualist view found throughout the post-Christian West.

At least, Matteo Ricci (I keep coming back to him) thought the Chinese to be generally chaste, modest, self-controlled, virtuous, and good candidates for evangelization; whereas God knows what even Ricci could do with secular liberals in Montreal, Amsterdam, Sydney, or San Francisco.


38 posted on Friday, September 15, 2006 7:18:39 PM by Mrs. Don-o (The Bible tells me so.)
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To: Mrs. Don-o

I agree with you in that ancient Chinese thoughts and values is probably not that different from ancient thoughts and values in other parts of the world. And I do not think children obeying their parents is a bad thing,

The difference though, is this. Like I have said already. Confucius was not a moral philoshopher, Confucius was not a theologian. Confucius was a mercenary scholar who sought patronage from the rulers of the various kingdoms in China during his time. Seeking such patronage, his advice were all geared toward pleasing a ruler, and helping him rule. Although some of the values Confucius proposed were good in of themselves, he proposed them only in the context of how it helps the ruler maintain his rule, and hence whenever each of those values conflict with the primary objective,those values are sacrificed in service of the primary objective.

Do you think if the parent command the child to do evil, or to blaspheme, Paul would still want the child to obey the parent? Of course not, Paul would expect them to have allegience first and foremost to God. God is the ultimate authority and arbiter. Imagine the same system without God, but where the ruler is revered as God, and the word of the ruler becomes the absolute authority. That is Confucianism.

You have to understand Confucianism with that understanding, instead of picking out some individual tidbits that you think are good values. You can't have Confucianism of those isolated tidbits. Just like you can't have the egalitarianism of the Communism without all the other things that comes with Communism. Ultimately Confucianism is about the worship of man as God. Which is why I call it a form of secular humanism taken to the extreme.

Note this is not uncommon in ancient times. Egyptians worshiped their Pharohs as Gods,etc. But those values are primitive, and no modern person should be adopting them as their set of values again. It would be akin to the U.S. readopting all the social values of Paul's time, along with slavery and everything else that existed at the time. Do you think that would be healthy for us? The Chinese government wants to re-introduce Confucianism because they want to encourage values that justify despotism.

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