Thursday, August 02, 2007

The Way of the master   posted by Razib @ 8/02/2007 07:42:00 PM

Confucius Making a Comeback In Money-Driven Modern China. The article notes that there is some debate about what exactly "Confucianism" is. The original ideas of Confucius were a distillation of the traditional customs & rites of ancient China which he attempted to preserve and promote through his tumultuous times. The original canon was modified and interpreted by by his successors, Mencius & Xunzi, transformed by the rise of the Chinese Empire, and finally influenced by Buddhist metaphysics (Neo-Confucianism). Like many elite religio-philosophical systems Confucianism is extremely flexible & rich, providing precedent & justification both for service to the a autocrat as well as moralistic objection to his tyranny. After the first Chinese Empire collapsed because of its totalitarian tendencies, encapsulated by the amoral utilitarian Legalist philosophy, the ruling dynasty which succeeded that of the First Emperor buttressed their legitimacy with Confucian thought. Though the outer facade spoke with a gentle Confucian voice the state apparatus in some ways was more indebted to the blind efficiency of Legalism. The point is not the words one speaks, it is that adherence to the Way allows one speak with more authority, the voice of Heaven. I wonder if in the near future Chinese will view the genuine Communist period (i.e., between 1950-1980) as similar to the Qin dynasty, which was at its peak for only 16 years.