Friday, March 27, 2009

The Empathy and Ethics of Confucius

Confucius' philosophy emphasized personal and governmental morality, correctness of social relationships, justice and sincerity, says Wikipedia.

He championed strong familial loyalty, ancestor worship, respect of elders by their children (and, according to later interpreters, of husbands by their wives), and the family as a basis for an ideal government.

He expressed the well-known principle, "Do not do to others what you do not want done to yourself" (similar to the Golden Rule).

He envisioned a unified royal state, whose rulers would succeed to power on the basis of their moral merit, not their parentage. These would be rulers devoted to their people, reaching for personal and social perfection.[30] Such a ruler would spread his own virtues to the people instead of imposing proper behavior with laws and rules.[31]

One of the deepest teachings of Confucius may have been the superiority of personal exemplification over explicit rules of behavior. Because his moral teachings emphasize self-cultivation, emulation of moral exemplars, and the attainment of skilled judgment rather than knowledge of rules, Confucius's ethics may be considered a type of virtue ethics.

This social philosopher's teachings have deeply influenced Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Taiwanese and Vietnamese thought and life.

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