Lesson 3: Topic 3 of 14


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Whether Confucianism is a philosophy or a religion is something of a controversy. Beginning in China more than 2,500 years ago, it is still today heavily influential in East and Southeast Asia. Confucius lived from 551 to 479 B.C., and developed a belief system promoting “ethics, good behavior, and moral character.” The five constant virtues he espoused, which are still taught, are benevolence, righteousness, propriety, wisdom, and fidelity. 

Confucian values may be held across religious lines, with some variation. Why? There are conflicting issues. For example, Buddhists may adhere to all Confucian mandates, while many devout Christians accept the virtues, but reject ancestor worship as a required part of filial, or family, piety.


The Confuscian value of harmony in many Eastern societies can be confusing to Westerners. Read through this example of an old rejection slip from the Mandarin Chinese Journal of Economics:  

We have read your manuscript with boundless delight. If we were to publish your paper it would be impossible for us to publish any work of lower standard. And as it is unthinkable that, within the next thousand years, we shall see its equal — we are, to our regret, compelled to return your divine composition, and to beg you a thousand times to overlook our short sight and timidity.

Mandarin Chinese Journal of Economics

Why not just tell the direct, unvarnished truth? That really is a question from a western point of view, where truth is valued more than feelings.