Confucian and Daoist Texts on the Individual, Society, and Good Governance Research Paper

Confucian and Daoist Texts on the Individual, Society, and Good Governance
An analysis of the texts of Confucius, Mencius, and Laozi on an individual's relationship with society.
# 153900 | 2,245 words | 0 sources | 2014 | US
Published on Jun 15, 2014 in Asian Studies (East Asian Cultures) , Philosophy (Eastern) , Philosophy (General)

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From the Paper:

"In the tumultuous landscape of the Spring and Autumn era and the Warring States Period, constant warfare for control was normal, and different schools of philosophical thought emerged, including many of the greatest figures of classical Chinese history. These thinkers, such as Confucius, Mencius, and the mythical Laozi, tried to find a way to organize society and ultimately provided guidance on the relationship between individual and society. Whereas Confucius advocated for a highly defined and conformist relationship between individual and society, Daoism, expressed through the Daodejing, is disdainful of differentiated roles. Applied specifically to the ruler-subject relationship, two opposing perspectives of good governance emerge.
"Confucius, a statesman and philosopher, emphasizes fulfillment of strictly defined social roles as the basis for an individual's place in society. Broadly speaking, The Analects, a collection of sayings attributable to Confucius, advocates for a system of social ethics governing human relationships. Each individual is a nexus of different interdependent relationships, including five central ones, namely those between: ruler and minister, father and son, elder to younger brother, husband and wife, and friend and friend. He believed that everyone has a certain place in society, stating repetitively, "When the prince is prince, and the minister is minister; when the father is father, and the son is son." Moreover, an individual must fulfill their roles within each relationship in order to maintain the equilibrium of a stable society, for "those who are filial toward their parents and fraternal towards their brothers, those who are inclined to offend against their superiors are few indeed... Being filial and fraternal--is this not the root of humaneness?" By rhetorically asking whether filiality and fraternity is linked to humaneness, we can see that the Confucian perspective is conservative: individuals must be filial and conform to defined obligations and roles in society since it fulfills the two ways of attaining moral nobility through both filial devotion and humaneness."

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