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PaulRyckier
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PostSubject: Confucius   Thu 12 Apr 2018, 22:27

I started this evening to look to a documentary about Confucius. I found out that it was a coproduction of China and Britain.
http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2015-12/08/c_134897470.htm
Although it has to be originally in English I found sadly no an English language version on the net.
One has to do it with a German version with French subtitles, but one can have automatic translation (click on the gearwheel) in all languages including English and if you reduce the German sound with English subtitles it is easy to follow the documentary I checked...I see it now from Arte television in French on the hard disc of my TV distribution.
I have some comments, as I hesitate between religion and philosophy. Can someone btw explain me the big differences between the religious philosophy and the philosophical religion, or just between philosophy and religion...nordmann? Is pure philosophy also not ruled by presupposed beliefs?
Nevertheless it is perhaps better to view first the documentary to discuss it afterwards...




And about Confucius some data:
http://www.philosophers.co.uk/confucius.html

Kind regards from Paul.
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: Confucius   Fri 13 Apr 2018, 06:50

@PaulRyckier wrote:
Can someone btw explain me the big differences between the religious philosophy and the philosophical religion, or just between philosophy and religion...nordmann? Is pure philosophy also not ruled by presupposed beliefs?

The order of the words is different in the first comparison, little else, and in both arrangements they make a mockery of semantics, intelligence, language and the point of same.

There is however a huge difference between philosophy and religion. It is a tautology to maintain that religion and philosophy are both predicated on belief so therefore are "the same". Philosophy is predicated on a belief that reason, intellect, method and the observable are understandable eventually through reason, intellect, method and observation. Religion is predicated on investing belief in any old thing that purports to explain anything with little or no reason, intellect, method or observation necessarily employed in accepting the illusion as genuine, or which simply appeals to unreasoned sentiment. These are not in an way compatible concepts semantically.
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PostSubject: Re: Confucius   Fri 13 Apr 2018, 22:31

nordmann,

thank you for explaining the differerence between philosophy and religion.
I have now today seen the whole film and for me it is a propaganda film from the People's Republic of China in cooperation with some British filmstudios. Had I know this beforehand I hadn't mentioned this documentary. And in my opinion it is a blame for the French-German ARTE TV channel to show that. I now understand why I didn't find nearly nothing of comments in English. It is as a religion taught in every school and also emphasising on the subordination of the individual to the community (and to the state)
It reminds me of the "corporatism" of the Catholic Church, which tended to be a third way between Capitalism and Socialism
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_corporatism
but it ended in the Italian Fascism, and a lot copied the Italian model including Nazi Germany. The corporations were even established in occupied Belgium during WWII. I heard about it too from my former generation who lived through the war...

No in my opinion tries China through for instance its "Confucius Institutes" (there is one in Brussels too) to propagate the Chinese culture, what is a good thing "an sich" (a bit as the Goethe Instutes in the world for Germany), but at the same time its propagates the political thoughts of the People's Republic. A bit as Putin now pampers the Russian Ortodox Church, with their cooperation for the "good" of the State.

But back to Confucius and his so-called philosophy.
nordmann, you wrote:
"Philosophy is predicated on a belief that reason, intellect, method and the observable are understandable eventually through reason, intellect, method and observation. Religion is predicated on investing belief in any old thing that purports to explain anything with little or no reason, intellect, method or observation necessarily employed in accepting the illusion as genuine, or which simply appeals to unreasoned sentiment. These are not in an way compatible concepts semantically."

As I read you, one would think that Confucianism is a kind of religion...?

And I see now that my link that I provided yesterday:
http://www.philosophers.co.uk/confucius.html
is of no value because if you seek for the about us or the sources they are unaccessible.
From the Stanford university:
https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/confucius/
And under 2. Confucius' Ethics:
Confucius' teachings and his conversations and exchanges with his disciples are recorded in the Lunyu or Analects, a collection that probably achieved something like its present form around the second century BCE. While Confucius believes that people live their lives within parameters firmly established by Heaven—which, often, for him means both a purposeful Supreme Being as well as ‘nature’ and its fixed cycles and patterns—he argues that men are responsible for their actions and especially for their treatment of others. We can do little or nothing to alter our fated span of existence but we determine what we accomplish and what we are remembered for.
Confucius represented his teachings as lessons transmitted from antiquity. He claimed that he was “a transmitter and not a maker” and that all he did reflected his “reliance on and love for the ancients” (Lunyu 7.1). Confucius pointed especially to the precedents established during the height of the royal Zhou (roughly the first half of the first millennium BCE). Such justifications for one's ideas may have already been conventional in Confucius' day. Certainly his claim that there were antique precedents for his ideology had a tremendous influence on subsequent thinkers many of whom imitated these gestures. But we should not regard the contents of the Analects as consisting of old ideas. Much of what Confucius taught appears to have been original to him and to have represented a radical departure from the ideas and practices of his day.
Confucius also claimed that he enjoyed a special and privileged relationship with Heaven and that, by the age of fifty, he had come to understand what Heaven had mandated for him and for mankind. (Lunyu 2.4). Confucius was also careful to instruct his followers that they should never neglect the offerings due Heaven. (Lunyu 3.13) Some scholars have seen a contradiction between Confucius' reverence for Heaven and what they believe to be his skepticism with regard to the existence of ‘the spirits.’ But the Analects passages that reveal Confucius' attitudes toward spiritual forces (Lunyu 3.12, 6.20, and 11.11) do not suggest that he was skeptical. Rather they show that Confucius revered and respected the spirits, thought that they should be worshipped with utmost sincerity, and taught that serving the spirits was a far more difficult and complicated matter than serving mere mortals."

And they call him not a "philosopher" but a "thinker"
"Confucius (551?-479? BCE), according to Chinese tradition, was a thinker, political figure, educator, and founder of the Ru School of Chinese thought.[1] "

Tomorrow I will try to speculate in what Western thinking differs from Confusianism and expect reactions from the other contributors, especially from nordmann.

Kind regards, Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Confucius   Sat 14 Apr 2018, 22:44

Western thinking against Confucianism.

I still recall from Han Suyin's five autobiographical novels that I read, about her Belgian mother, Marguerite Denis, who married to a Chinese railway engineer, became embedded end of the 19th century into a traditional Chinese family, with Confucianism in their standards. Really a clash of the civilisations. The liberal Belgian woman from the French language elite (Antwerp-Brussels) in the Confucianist famliy traditions of China. And she had to obey, that were the rules.
http://wiki.china.org.cn/wiki/index.php/Han_Suyin
I agree that the nowadays Confucianism as promoted by the Chinese Republic nowadays isn't the same anymore as the 19th century Confucianism Marguerite Denis was confronted with.
And it seems to be an actual subject nowadays:
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/belief/2009/jul/26/confucianism-china
Article by Daniel A. Bell in the Guardian
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel_A._Bell
And:
https://berkleycenter.georgetown.edu/events/confucianism-in-china-today
I have not seen to the end the two films...and you can have English subtitles to understand (at least for me) the speakers.

It reminds me about the teambuilding sessions, which became common at the end of "my" time in the factory. I became never involved as we "oldies" were perhaps seen as "untreatable" (wonder if MM has also undergone such sessions?). No, I agree with teambuilding but then it has to be an approach in which the individual's capacities are incorporated and integrated into the group, a group of individuals each with his own capabilties, for the better of the working of the whole group. For instance you can't expect from someone with a paralyzed leg that he climbs the mountain while it is included in the teambuilding. While that mountain climbing is not necessary for the jobdsescription he does. I remember that my boss (of that moment) was looking together with another same minded into a Japanese book about guidelines, as if that book was their bible.

And so I come to the first of my comparisons the relationship of the individual, with his individual rights with the society in which he has to act.
In my opinion one has to let as in the Western society some independence to the individual, with individual rights that go above the rights of society. Let the individual its own creativity and decisionmaking that is not equalized for the greater good of the society.

And secondly I want to expand about the filial respect towards the elder ones...With what Han Suyin's mother in the extended family of her husband Chou had that much trouble.
But that will be for tomorrow...

Kind regards, Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Confucius   Sun 15 Apr 2018, 00:09

@PaulRyckier wrote:

It reminds me about the teambuilding sessions, which became common at the end of "my" time in the factory. I became never involved as we "oldies" were perhaps seen as "untreatable" (wonder if MM has also undergone such sessions?).

MM at one time was Quality Manager for all the company's UK operations (2 manufacturing sites and 3 sales offices) and so I'm afraid he, along with the HR Manager, was actually responsible for running such team-building, empowerment and total quality training sessions. And I didn't allow the "oldies" to avoid them either! Embarassed
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: Confucius   Sun 15 Apr 2018, 12:20

Paul, as I'm sure you've already grown to realise based on your recent exploration of the subject, it is very unwise to assume that "confucianism" per se has at all times historically represented a single continuous branch of philosophy. In fact, if you read about the historical roots of confucianism you will see that the moment it gained traction and popularity at the point of its emergence as a viable philosophical candidate for social reform it found itself in a pitched battle with an alternative "take" on such a socially-applicable philosophy which could be readily converted by the authorities into a state religion, this for obvious reasons at the time becoming known as "legalism". It was in fact "legalism" which won that particular battle at the time, one result of which was the outlawing of its competitor for the "hearts and minds" of the population. However that was a long time ago, and what ultimately happened once particular regimes in particular circumstances recognised the fact that hearts and minds can never be truly subsumed into the state apparatus through coercion, was that confucianism (in exactly the same way as christianity in the west and for exactly the same reasons around exactly the same time) was "re-admitted" into officialdom on officialdom's terms. What emerged was a fusion of legalist and confucian philosophies in which individual morality could be addressed through one interpretation of one part of the fused philosophy-cum-religion while what might be called social morality and behaviour remained firmly in the control of the authorities. So effective a method of controlling individuals is this approach wherever it has emerged that it does not really even matter afterwards exactly who or what these "authorities" are anymore in terms of leadership, political system or organisation - each historical phase and emergent ideology pushing political reform and subsequent reorganisation proves itself equally adept at continuing the promulgation of a hybrid "legalist/confucian" model of state religion, or at least state-approved religion for the masses.

One product of this fusion is (an intended) ambiguity when it comes to morality, and an equally ambiguous endorsement from within the fused principles of the relationship between the individual and whatever passes for the "state" at any given time. Within this confusion and lack of clear principle it is then equally as easy to coercively enforce a duty to the state on the part of the individual as it is to nominally allow the individual to believe they are pursuing quite a different set of principles entirely, in which freedom of thought is fundamental. The true extent of that freedom and its actual role in societal behaviour however is exposed as minimal when and if the state wishes to pursue a policy potentially detrimental to the individual's welfare, safety and even their life itself.

While it is fascinating to approach confucianism in purely philosophical or theological terms and tease out that which probably can be traced to its conceptual root or not, just as one can also do with christianity or any other state religion with philosophical pretensions, it is ultimately missing the point regarding why the pseudo-philosophical principles, bowdlerised and misappropriated as they have been repeatedly over the centuries, have actually survived at all. As with any major religion which has been pressed into state service they survive because they have been decreed to have survived, bear little scrutiny with regard to their continuous import and theological or philosophical interpretation, and have acquired this compounded ambiguity and amenability to state/authoritarian ownership because they have been continually useful to the same powers that be.

You appear to be approaching this subject as something of a newcomer, so I invite you to appreciate confucianism with the same historical and intellectual insight as you might apply to christianity, the version of the same phenomenon with which you are best acquainted. But above all do not lose sight of the historical perspective - especially with long-lasting and obviously socially useful pseudo-philosophical systems which have acquired the lustre of "religion". This perspective coupled with a detailed knowledge of how these systems have been (and still are) continuously tweaked to suit the circumstances, and in particular their role in the acquisition and retention of power by political regimes over the bulk of humanity, will help one see which precepts embedded in that system exist, how long they have actually existed, for what reason they might exist, and in particular where they truly originated. The individual's compliance to being controlled lies at the root of a lot of it, and the philosophical precepts allowed to survive in such a system are those which are least likely to threaten this compliance, even if such precepts amount sometimes to little more than obviously fraudulent factual claims and appeals to the individual's most base instincts and prejudices. Actual philosophy, as opposed to religion masquerading as philosophy, is easily identifiable in its fundamental assumption that this very deception is a candidate for exposure and analysis. Chinese confucianism, as with any "religion", abhors such objective analysis applied to its stated core "principles".
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PaulRyckier
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PostSubject: Re: Confucius   Sun 15 Apr 2018, 23:03

@Meles meles wrote:
@PaulRyckier wrote:

It reminds me about the teambuilding sessions, which became common at the end of "my" time in the factory. I became never involved as we "oldies" were perhaps seen as "untreatable" (wonder if MM has also undergone such sessions?).

MM at one time was Quality Manager for all the company's UK operations (2 manufacturing sites and 3 sales offices) and so I'm afraid he, along with the HR Manager, was actually responsible for running such team-building, empowerment and total quality training sessions. And I didn't allow the "oldies" to avoid them either! Embarassed


Meles meles,

thank you for your respons Wink .
In fact I wasn't perhaps yet an "oldy" at fifty. But at the start of the "Nineties" in Belgium, even in the big factories, that teambuilding only started. And at fifty in so-called "prépension" for a "reorganisation" of the factory, because they made (in my eyes constructed) loss (shifting money from one branch to another). In fact among others, they shut down "our" complete level, now  from the responsibles on the floor directly to the department head. A wise decision in my opinion, although I too, as becoming fifty, was involved.
But now both the grandchildren have already done that teambuilding...We can have a thread about , who started all that stuff? The Japanese?

Kind regards from Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Confucius   Sun 15 Apr 2018, 23:24

nordmann,

thank you very much for this excellent survey, which says all what I felt that had to be said about this question. And as usual with logic and in a superb language. I had already learned from the BBC forum, but here I learned a lot more, among others thanks to you. With esteem. As it is already midnight here, I will edit my respons paragraph pro paragraph tomorrow.
One last: about the "legalists". I came for the first time with the three directions Confucianism, Legalism and Taoism in contact in the work: "History of the world" from Bison Books London under the direction of Prof. dr. J. Whitney Hall.
And it came also in our discussion of the thread: Kings and Gods.

Kind regards, Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Confucius   Mon 16 Apr 2018, 08:58

Paul, in sinological studies (even in modern China) there is as much attention and education related to legalism as there is to confucianism, even if the former is often presented as the latter just to confuse the issue further. One of the core documents related to legalism was written in the 3rd century BCE by Shen Dao, these days called a "theoretician" though also in the past "philosopher" or "theologian" (depending basically on who was in power and which expression best suited the ideology in vogue). His assessment of "wuwei" (the virtue of respect) still underpins not only the current state Chinese religion/philosophy but most religious theology currently in popular circulation - Christians will recognise a very fundamental treatment of the concept of "free will" in the following, for example, and how this fits into a divine scheme of things being run by a supernatural deity:

(note that "sage" in the following points doubles in Chinese as the word for the top person in a political unit - something crucial to modern Chinese social organisation, but also western hierarachies, be they secular or religious)

1. Heaven has light and does not care that men are in darkness; Earth is fruitful, and does not care that men are impoverished; the sage (聖) has virtue (德) and does not care that men are imperiled.

2. Although Heaven does not care that men are in darkness, if they open their doors and windows, they will assuredly get light for themselves; but Heaven does nothing (無事).

3. Although Earth does not care that men are impoverished, if they fell the trees and harvest the plants, they will assuredly get wealth for themselves; but Earth does nothing.

4. Although the Sage does not care that men are imperiled, if the people (百姓) conform to the superior and accept their lower status, they will assuredly get peace for themselves; but the Sage does nothing.

5. So the Sage in high position does not harm (不害) men, though he cannot keep men from harming each other. It is the people themselves who eliminate the harm.

6. The Sage possesses the world (天下 = “Empire”) as something he has been given, not as something he has taken; the people take care of the sage, and are not cared for by him; for the sage does nothing.


I mention these purely because you can immediately see how the above precepts have been incorporated as a fundamental principle into the individual/state relationship that citizens are encouraged to adopt in China. The individual has choices, and ultimately is responsible for any consequences of their actions - good or bad. The state (the sage) may be the agent that executes these consequences in real terms, but is in effect doing nothing at all except showing a wisdom invested in the welfare of everyone exceeding that of the mere individual. The action and the consequence therefore belong solely to the individual, not the state, and even if that individual doesn't understand or objects to this then that merely "proves" their lack of wisdom and the all-embracing wisdom of the state.

With a slightly different interpretation of the very same text one can also see the Christian take on free-will. The individual - by design - can do what they like, hopefully aspiring to wisdom and taking responsibility for their actions as they do so, though even this is ultimately down to them and not as consequential as what follows anyway. This is because there is an over-riding wisdom to which the individual - again by design - has no access, by which one will be ultimately judged, and which ultimately controls the individual's fate, regardless of what they did or how much personal wisdom they attempted to employ in determining the ultimate consequence of their actions. The only practical wisdom therefore is to recognise the limits of one's own inferior version of same, and to submit to the greater wisdom which one - again by design - can never truly understand. Helpfully however this mysterious wisdom is interpreted for one by agents of the divine here on earth, so one's best bet therefore is to do what they say you should do, and to relegate the instinct or urge to act purely on one's own free will to a lesser status in one's deliberations at all times in favour of their "advice". In fact if you don't do this then the conventional wisdom is that you are eternally doomed to torment or worse, so it's effectively a no-brainer to thank your creator for having been gifted free will and then do everything in your power to resist using it and wait for validation and authorisation from the intermediaries in some form first, just as the Chinese citizen is better off for exactly the same reason simply keeping their head down and getting on with obeying others' rules and conforming to their precepts too.

In truth "legalism" is present in all religions that have a large social application - without legalist content then religion loses a huge chunk of its theological application to the individual as a social animal, and without legalist elements a religion is worthless to the state (while with those elements it becomes literally a "god-send" to the state). Religions which intentionally play down or ignore this theological requirement are doomed to be marginalised socially or dismissed as mere superstitions. It is legalism that elevates what might have been thus dismissed into becoming important and widespread common faiths. The Chinese simply found this out a few centuries ahead of the Romans.
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PostSubject: Re: Confucius   Mon 16 Apr 2018, 22:54

nordmann, and I hope that Meles meles and others are reading with us,

Thanks again for a second approach on legalism. I read it in a hurry late in the evening, but I have to "digest" it first before commenting. And I used all my time by reading again about the period from Confucius till the coming of Budhism in China in a chapter about China till the middle-ages. And that in the "Worldhistory" that I mentioned yesterday. It is a Dutch language translation from 1993 of 870 pages big format. And as said I read for the first time there, now some 25 years ago about Confucianism, Taoïsm and Legalism.
And as I read it, it is fully in concordance with what you wrote.
Some hasty questions:
Confucianism seems already "interpretated" and changed by the thinkers immediately after him? Mencius and Hsün tru?
Later the Taoists, not that important for the state forming? "le retour à la nature"?
And then the Legalists that you describe and the mixture afterwards...

Perhaps the title of the thread had better been, as I see it now: Confucianism and Confucius.

Kind regards from Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Confucius   Tue 17 Apr 2018, 08:07

@PaulRyckier wrote:

Some hasty questions:
Confucianism seems already "interpretated" and changed by the thinkers immediately after him? Mencius and Hsün tru?
Later the Taoists, not that important for the state forming? "le retour à la nature"?
And then the Legalists that you describe and the mixture afterwards...

It is standard in theology to change precepts almost immediately after they first gain currency, not by "thinkers" per se, but by those who see an opportunity to broaden the religion's appeal or relevance through specific editing of the original theological concepts. It is one of the things that distinguishes theology from philosophy; in theology whole chunks of an original hypothesis can be jettisoned, ignored, or even retained as contradictory elements standing in opposition to later additions, the motive normally being to make it more appealing or comprehensible on a large scale. None of that is really allowed in philosophy where every subsequent development in a hypothesis requires a level of justification that normally includes a requirement to demonstrate how it follows from that which had been established in an argument beforehand. When a religion is adopted through political sponsorship the process is accelerated, and normally the acceleration is made possible through the introduction of even more contradictory elements. These can be included without apparently damaging the integrity of the product simply because the theology and the requirement to adopt it as a belief can then be enforced through coercion - even physical coercion if necessary in some cases. Confucianism underwent this process in fact several times over the centuries - the form in which it is presented and generally understood these days differs tremendously from its original form (a set of principles with wisdom as an ideal and little or no moral imperatives drawn from the substance of the original texts - at least as far as we can see after millennia of redaction, another pitfall when studying religions that have lasted over many centuries).

Taoism prospered as a quasi-philosophical assessment of natural law with very little theological content or purpose, a forerunner of science in fact, for over a thousand years before the Ming dynasty authorities finally did to it what the Tang dynasty had previously done to Confucianism 700 years beforehand. It was incorporated into the largely Legalist state religion, which was big on rules but lacked enough elements that addressed the requirement to explain natural phenomena and the observable universe which an increasingly knowledgeable society placed on it. By subsuming Taoism into the mix the authorities successfully retained control through theological means of the population. The losers in this were the small populations of Taoists who suddenly found their original version of the product had been bowdlerised into something they hardly recognised. There were some small religious wars fought in the region as a result, which were quickly and ruthlessly concluded by the Ming authorities in a manner that all but obliterated traditional Taoism.
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PostSubject: Re: Confucius   Tue 17 Apr 2018, 12:29

Time for me to 'fess up.  I know next to nothing about Confucius (have just had a quick gander on Wikipedia) except he lived in ancient times in China and of course some years ago there were the "Confucius he say"....jokes which I've forgotten (probably just as well).  Well, although I originally joined this board because I was glad to find that I wasn't the only person who wasn't struck on the Historian Who Shall Not be Named another reason was to learn from people who had more knowledge in certain spheres than myself.  Indeed I hung back from joining for a while because I felt perhaps I wasn't sufficiently erudite.  So it's interesting to learn something about the man (in this case Confucius) behind the name.  Perhaps I should have a look for a non-fiction book (but hopefully one that won't drag too heavily on my arm) on the subject next time I go to the library.  I do have an Eloneex (sort of poor person's form of the Kindle) which will download books but I haven't really got to grips with it yet.
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PostSubject: Re: Confucius   Tue 17 Apr 2018, 13:01

In my experience, LiR, Confucius is best tackled a little through the side-door rather than full on. If you start with the man or the religion named after him you invariably get the "official line", and it is only later as you get into it that you realise there was almost a thousand years of Confucianism which bore little or no resemblance to the present form and is completely fascinating, much more than the newer versions. As Paul mentioned above, characters who came along a little later like Mencius, Yang Xiong, and right up to Zhou Dunyi in the early Middle Ages were the guys whose stuff is still the "written record" concerning early Confucianism and worth reading in their own words (his own accredited texts are quite unreliable thanks to interference from others later). By Zhou Dunyi's time it was already morphing with Taoism to make a rather radical new religion very similar in terms of ethics to early Platonism and the Platonic bits of early Christianity which still hold great appeal for their humanitarian bent, and that's probably it's most interesting manifestation. It was also probably what alerted the authorities to the fact that the religion, especially the Tao bits, was encouraging a little too much "independent thought" for their liking and which in turn prompted the state-sponsored "Neo-Confucianism" which has largely survived to this day. However all that was "neo-" about it was a savage pruning of Taoist influence and a very heavy dollop of Legalism applied so that the thing shifted back to ethics as moral imperatives with quite serious legal enforcement keeping everyone in check.

However even better than this era, and a good bloke to start with, is a lad called Wang Chong who lived between 27 and 97 CE. He was a Confucian as long as it tallied with his own beliefs about "natural order", a philosophy which he had largely deduced for himself from reading books in bookstores without buying them as he was so poor (we've all been there), and a Taoist at heart when it came to learning. This untutored approach to education meant that he single-handedly invented scientific method and empirical philosophy from scratch, unaware that anyone might have got there before him. He then wrote a well received and popular critique of Confuciansim which basically rubbished any of the superfluous ethical stuff that had no practical value and emphasised all those bits as worth keeping which could be summed up as respect for justice, respect for others, and a deep love of knowledge. He hated superstition, scoffed at the idea of an afterlife, detested falsehood, and reckoned all religions worth their salt could be summed up as "be good for goodness sake". There was no need for a deity or anything to be invented at all, but a huge need for education (he also advocated free books for poor people - for obvious reasons).

His influence over Confucianism was immense, and you can easily deduce which bits of Confucianism were first to come a cropper once the emperor's lads got hold of it 600 years or so later! Nowadays it's hard to find stuff he wrote, though one book called "Balanced Discussion" (Lunheng) survived by accident and is well worth a read.

It's a pity travel was so difficult in those days. At the same time as Wang Chong was alive the Greeks had played themselves into a philosophical cul-de-sac of cynicism and scepticism (not in the modern sense of either word but not too far from it either) in which old Platonic concepts were being wrangled into ethical rules (Christianity wasn't the first to do this, nor even the best at it in terms of being logically consistent). Wang's own peculiar philosophy of "Optimistic Realism" in which the only rule was "be good", and then to crack on with making sense of everything based on natural laws, would have been like a breath of fresh air had he arrived in their midst and persuaded them of their folly in making the philosophy fit the assumed rule rather than vice-versa, and maybe even might have spared us from much of what happened next once the Romans decided to run with one particular Cynic offshoot that had been fused with a less than ethical monotheist religion and was about as superstitious as they came.
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PostSubject: Re: Confucius   Tue 17 Apr 2018, 22:28

nordmann,

I read all your messages and answers with great interest and "understand" them. I will later comment, and mention also parallels with modern dictatorships, which adopted in my eyes or used elements from religious authorities, to which the general public alraeady was accustomed, to strengthen their own set of doctrines,all with the goal of gaining the power in the "state".

And thanks again for your elaborated answers on my last question.

Kind regards from Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Confucius   Wed 18 Apr 2018, 09:46

Paul wrote:
... and mention also parallels with modern dictatorships, which adopted in my eyes or used elements from religious authorities, to which the general public alraeady was accustomed, to strengthen their own set of doctrines,all with the goal of gaining the power in the "state"

I think that can be taken almost as a given, and in fact there is quite a bit of "chicken or egg" conundrum regarding the origin of such doctrines and the approach to their use. Do political regimes adopt religious doctrinal tropes or vice versa? I imagine the further you go in finding examples the more you will find that the two are really just facets of the same drive to control people to the extent that a central authority can dictate with some assurance of success how those individuals under their control should think, knowing that this is a crucial first step towards dictating whatever actions follow.

I would even go further and point out a strong parallel not only in motive and effect, but also between the incredibly high levels of self-delusion required to maintain each version of the process, be it overtly religious or political in tone. Exploitation of a human capacity through being social to the extent of then being willingly compliant (even in horrific circumstances to the point of their own destruction by the authority) is a well documented and understood phenomenon. The mistake that is often made however - by politicians and their ideologists as much as religious leaders and their theologians - is to presume that this compliance can be engendered and cultivated through application of their doctrine, and not actually recognise their own opportunistic hijacking of a human tendency for what it really is. This leads eventually to an inevitable requirement to admit flaws, inaccuracies, deceptions and systemic failures within the societies manufactured through exploiting these doctrinal tropes, as the "compliant" individuals they control slowly but surely evolve socially to redefine the terms and nature of their compliance. This puts a time limit on any doctrine, or at least its pretence to represent an absolute truth, and in turn forces those employing such doctrine to either adapt it to match human expectation or watch it crumble away completely as a tool to maintain authority and power over individuals. Whether one is a political ideologue imitating religious tropes or indeed a theologian immersed in one branch of religious interpretation of reality to support untenable assertions employing political methods to prosecute these assertions, one is still operating within a window of opportunity that has its own built-in expiry date, and the ones in either field who have shown most success have always been those who recognised this and tackled it through coercion or flagrant re-definition of their principles as times moved on.

What they all want of course is access to a set of doctrines which most closely resemble logic in that all the components at least appear to be derivative from or supportive of others within the set. In China this was solved in various ways over the centuries, both within the political state and within religious theology, and the officially approved religious observance of "three ways to one goal" that was intentionally manufactured for largely political reasons, and which is still in use, has proven immensely successful in maintaining a pseudo-logical doctrinal structure that can then be pressed into state service as a social control mechanism. So successful in fact that it has superseded in longevity and application the various political regimes which utilised it.

So it's not just dictators you should be looking at ...
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PostSubject: Re: Confucius   Wed 18 Apr 2018, 23:08

nordmann,

thank you very much for again an informative reply. I sought my thread about Kings and Gods:
https://reshistorica.historyboard.net/t884-ancients-starting-with-gods-and-kingships
And now I understand better what you meant in the time, in fact now I really understand it, by what you explained in this new thread.
I owe you still a lot of comments, I know that, but in the meantime can you expand on your last paragraph, for instance:
"In China this was solved in various ways over the centuries, both within the political state and within religious theology, and the officially approved religious observance of "three ways to one goal" that was intentionally manufactured for largely political reasons, and which is still in use, has proven immensely successful in maintaining a pseudo-logical doctrinal structure that can then be pressed into state service as a social control mechanism. So successful in fact that it has superseded in longevity and application the various political regimes which utilised it."
For instance:"the officially approved religious observance of "three ways to one goal""

Thank you in advance and kind regards.
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PostSubject: Re: Confucius   Thu 19 Apr 2018, 07:36

The "three ways to one goal" principle is taught in Chinese schools and basically encourages citizens not to identify with one religion but to adopt elements from Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism when or if they wish to subscribe to any faith-based set of beliefs. The term was coined in the 19th century when it reflected what was then a royal decree concerning declarations of allegiance to any single religion as anti-social, and even treasonous in some circumstances. It is still very much government policy, and as with their royal precursors successive communist state regimes are quite specific about which of these elements that can be plucked from each identified faith/religion are deemed ok and which are not.

A large part of Tibetan objection to Chinese rule is based on strong opposition to this particular policy, which in Tibet has been implemented under duress on citizens who traditionally restricted themselves to one faith - they represent to the current Chinese regime the same threat and challenge as Taoists did several centuries beforehand, and in fact the official response has strong parallels with how the Ming dynasty also tackled this issue in the past.
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PostSubject: Re: Confucius   Fri 20 Apr 2018, 22:57

Thanks again nordmann for your immediate reply. You seem to know something about your subject I see. I am a bit ashamed that it is already that late again and will be obliged to comment tomorrow...I will try to  include your last message in the Brexit thread too...and start with questions about Nazism and Stalinism, even the couple Putin-Orthodox Church...
and I owe you and MM still comments on the Doggerbank subject...

Kind regards from Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Confucius   Sun 22 Apr 2018, 14:03

nordmann,

as I have to prepare for tomorrow's holidays, my further elaboration will be for end next week.

Kind regards and with esteem, Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Confucius   Mon 23 Apr 2018, 08:37

I'm looking forward to it, Paul.

You started the thread using Confucianism as an example of the ambiguity between religion and philosophy, and as I said in reply it's my view that any such ambiguity has to be manufactured in people's minds for it to apply in any case, for which Confucianism and its history is also as good an example as any you may wish to choose.

So can I suggest that instead of simply providing yet more hyperlinks to other sites which contain in any case only inconsistent and variably accurate or inaccurate references to the history of Confucianism, and bearing in mind this is a history discussion site on which any reference to contemporary society requires at least a small demonstration of some historical justification for making it, then I'd be very interested in any elaboration you may have regarding where you think the borders exist between religion and philosophy as indicated by Confucianism in particular, and indeed how much of this has to be deduced from an historical understanding of its development rather than how it is now presented and generally encouraged to be understood in modern terms.

Your answer to this, I'd wager, could equally and easily be made to apply to just about any theology you can think of. And that to me is a very important aspect to (and evidence of) how this ambiguity has often been a result of wilful manipulation of independently adduced processes of logical thought - originally promulgated by individuals with little or no specific agenda of their own - on the part of authorities for the explicit purpose of keeping people under their control, and for reasons therefore that extend way beyond (and often in fact have nothing at all to do with) their spiritual well-being or welfare in the afterlife, as they claim.
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