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Confucianism in East Asia

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on 24 November 2013

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Transcript of Confucianism in East Asia

Confucianism in East Asia
Chao-Lun (Jacob) Huang

Doctoral Student
Department of Sociology, UNT
Why Confucianism is so Important in East Asian?
To establish social orders in ethics, cultures, philosophy and norms.

To provide a human-centered worldview

To legitimate the ruler’s authority (extension of the family value), especially in a feudal society.

To emphasis on the importance of education that can diminish inequalities among social class.
Confucianism in China
Before the Cultural Revolution (1966-1977),Confucianism had be inherited over 2 thousand years ( Adopted in the Han Dynasty, BCE 200-220; well-developed in the Song Dynasty, CE 960-1279 ).

In the period of Cultural Revolution, Confucianism was devalued as cultural backwardness and political conservatism.

Since 1990, Chinese government attempts to retain Confucianism as a foundation of Chinese culture.

In addition, since 2004, 358 Confucius Institutes in 105 countries to export simplified Chinese characters, Mandarin and some ideologies (not exactly related to Confucianism).

In 2008, Chinese government based on Taiwan’s “Basic Reading of Chinese Culture” published “Basic Reading of Chinese Studies”. In 2013, around 30 experimental middle schools started using this book.

Confucianism in Taiwan
Confucianism is an important foundation of cultural education.

Confucius temples were important educational institutions.

Since 1949, especially in the period of the Cultural Revolution, in order to legitimate its Confucian orthodoxy, government promoted Confucianism in the Revival Chinese Culture Movement.

“Basic Reading of Chinese Culture” and “Civic Society and Social Norms” have been required books that emphasis on filial piety and national piety in middle school over 45 years.

The Birthday of Confucianism(September 28th) is "Teacher’s Day” nationally. Confucius temples in every county have a governmental-funde celebration to remember of “the Teacher for All Ages”.

Confucianism in Japan
In 5th BCE, Confucianism was applied to establish social life and political order.

Confucianism was a mainstream culture in the Edo Period (1603-1867).

During the Edo Period, Confucianism was used to strengthen social order.

Since the Abolition of the Domain System, all domains were control back to the emperor, there were more conflicts between Shinto and Buddhism. Therefore, Confucianism losts its influence in society

Confucianism in Korea
Racial/ethnic identity regarding Confucianism was an important factor to support the 1913 Korean Independence Movement (to against the Japanese Colonialism) and to against the American culture invasion (after the 1945 Korean War).

Since 1960, Confucianism has been implemented into the education system.

**Confucianism in three educational levels:
I. Primary education: “Way of Normal Life”-> personal life, social life, and national life.

II. Secondary Education: ”Ethics”--> interpersonal relationships and human values.

III. Higher Education: “Civil Ethics”--> the integration of science and ethnic identity

Confucianism in Vietnam
In 939, Ngo Quyan established the first dynasty in Vietnam. In accordance with Confucianism, he started a feudal government.

Confucianism’s filial piety and authority royalty influenced the early Vietnamese society.

Confucianism is widely used for some political and social leaderships, including Ho Chi Minh.

In the 1961 Revival New Normal Life Movement, the government issued the memorial stamps of Confucius.

Confucianism in Malaysia/Singapore
In southeast Asia, Confucianism is an important cultural symbol of racial/ethnic identity among Chinese immigrants.

Confucianism is still taught and inherited among the Chinese immigrant groups.
Is Confucianism a Religion?
Confucius was a founder of Confucianism

Confucius could be counted as a charismatic leader but he was not like most of religious masters having supernatural power

The argument to identify Confucianism as a religion is whether the concept of “Heaven” (Tien) is a personalized "Being" or not.

"A general concept of the Universe" v.s. "a personalized sacred Being/Creator"

The Master said,” I would prefer not speaking. Tsze-kung said” if you, Master, do not speak, what shall we, your disciples, have to record? The Master said,
“Does Heaven speak?
The four seasons pursue their courses, and all things are continually being produced, but
does Heaven say anything?
(Ch.19, Book XVII: YangHo, Confucian Analects).

Chi-Lu asked about serving the spirits of the dead. The Master said, “While you are not able to serve men, how can you serve their spirits?” Chi-Lu added, “I venture to ask about death?” He was answered, “
While you do not know the origin of life
, how can you know about death?” (Ch.11, Book XI: HsienTsin, Confucian Analects)

II. Humans can treat Heaven as a personalized subject.

Confucius said “There are three things of which the superior man stand in awe.
He stands in awe of the ordinances of Heaven
, He stands in awe of great man. He stands in awe of the words of sages…”. (Ch.8, Book XVI: KeShe, Confucian Analects)

When Yen Yuan died, the Master said, ”Alas! Heaven is destroying me! Heaven is destroying me!” (Ch.8, Book XI: HsienTsin, Confucian Analects)

Tsze-kung said” What do you mean by thus saying: that no one knows you?” The Master said, “I do not murmur against Heaven. I do not grumble against men. My studies lie low, and my presentation rises high. But t
here is Heaven, that knows me
. (Ch 37, Book XIV: HsienWan, Confucian Analects)

The Influence of Confucianism in East Asia
The ruler class often use Confucianism as a mean of social control to justify their ruling legitimacy---> a state religion

If democracy and human right can be successful in a Confucianism-based society is still debating.
Thanks for listening!

Q & A

I. Heaven does not speak any word to humans
Full transcript