Essay on Confucianism and Filial Piety in Chinese Culture

2916 Words Mar 31st, 2011 12 Pages
Duc Hoang
Professor Sandra Lee
IQS 125
26 May 2008 Confucianism and Filial Piety in Chinese culture Western people might wonder why once upon a time in China, choosing a wife or husband for one’s life was not his or her decision but their parents’, or one must mourn for their deceased parents at least three years. The answer is about the definition of morality. Different conceptions of morality have guided different cultures in different directions regarding a central question of human existence: Does morality require filial piety (or filial obligation) of children toward their parents? Confucianism, which remains influential in Chinese culture, answers an emphatic "yes", while Western culture's response is ambiguous, to
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The family takes a central place in Confucianism. Their interrelationships, as mentioned above, are determined on the basis of five basic human relationships: ruler-minister, father-son, elder brother-younger brother, husband-wife, and friend-friend. Kung, Hung, and Chan clarify that three of these basic human relationships are familial and have clearly defined generations, age, and gender hierarchies (33). These authors further explain that the family and the state are integrally related and the family is a means through which the state exerts social control over its subjects in general. The Chinese word for "nation", after all: "consists of two characters 'guo' and 'jia.' The former means country, and the latter family. Hence the country is the family and the family is the country" (Kung, Hung, and Chan. 33) Life according to many philosophers is an ongoing struggle between the values of just and unjust, right and wrong. Some think that this struggle is in reality an artificial struggle, others think that it is mankind’s true purpose in life to be moral and just. Confucius' concepts of "proprietary rule" and "man of humanity" would fall under the latter view, that man's true purpose was morality and justice and his basis for family values insured that that would be the case both within the family and within society as a whole. Deutsch observes that: "Confucianism promotes harmonious relations among people primarily

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