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Chinese Philosophy Week 2 Notes

by: Yisu

Chinese Philosophy Week 2 Notes PHIL 336

Marketplace > University of New Mexico > Philosophy > PHIL 336 > Chinese Philosophy Week 2 Notes
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About this Document

Ideas about what "goodness" in a person is according to Confucius. Also the initial introduction to Mohism through readings of Mozi in the textbook.
Chinese Philosophy
Emily McRae
Class Notes
Mohism, Confucianism, Confucius, Mozi, philosophy, China, Chinese, Culture, history, good, Goodness, Gentleman
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This 5 page Class Notes was uploaded by Yisu on Sunday September 4, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to PHIL 336 at University of New Mexico taught by Emily McRae in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 9 views. For similar materials see Chinese Philosophy in Philosophy at University of New Mexico.


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Date Created: 09/04/16
Confucian ‘Goodness’ (8/30) and Start Mohism (9/1) (Week 2)  A short essay assignment was due on Tuesday (8/30) about what ‘goodness’  is according to Confucius. Here is a list of the most relevant passages that I  have gathered after reading through Analects of Confucius section of the  textbook (RCCP: Readings in Classical Chinese Philosophy by P.J. Ivanhoe  and W. Van Norden): o 3.3 Only a good person can appreciate the value of ritual/manners and culture/music o 4.1 ­ 4.7 The importance of Goodness o 5.8 ‘Ability’ is not goodness o 5.10 One’s action reflects goodness o 5.19 ‘Dutifulness’ and ‘purity’ (either one by itself) is not goodness o 6.22 (2nd half) finally gives a direct ‘definition’ of goodness  What I personally noticed about Goodness from these passages is that  Confucius is extremely reluctant to praise a person to be “good” from  knowing that they seem to have a single “good” quality (ability, dutifulness,  purity, etc. by itself) about him.  o This seems to agree with the passage of 6.22, where he finally says  that a good person is concerned first with his/her own ‘self­ cultivation’—the bettering of oneself by studying and practicing  qualities that are good—to become as “complete” as possible and in  doing so reach the state of being the Confucian “gentleman”. o This also agrees with the passage 2.12, where Confucius says that a  ‘gentleman’ should not be a “vessel” that is of a single use/quality, but should be as well rounded in abilities/learning/qualities as possible.  Another very important Confucian concept about the ‘good person’ to notice is the “duality” of Action and Intention. Confucius seems to think the  truly good person will perform all the right and appropriate actions and that  these actions are only worthwhile and ‘good’ when they are based upon  sincere intentions. If a person only has good intentions and do not act,  he/she falls into being a hypocrite and “petty person” by only thinking and  claiming about being good; whereas if a person only performs good deeds  yet does so only because he/she has been told so by others or by law, this is  also hypocrisy.  o In addition to these there have also been many cases in history around  the world in which a person (usually a politician or statesman…make  of this what you will ) perform good deeds in order to gain favor  with the public, but only because this will help them advance their  own profit/status/wealth. This is the case where both actions and  intentions are ‘fulfilled’, but the intention is corrupt and cstoked. This helps explain quote 4.2 from Analects given to us on the 1  day of  class: ‘…those who are wise follow Goodness because they feel that  they will profit from it’. The wise and good profit in seeing and  having good done unto others, whereas the wise and evil do so by  profiting in selfish gains.   Mozi (c. 480­390 BCE) was born into the Warring States Period and around the time that Confucius passed away and may have studied Confucian  thought before leaving it and forming his own school of thought that has its  unique view and criticism of Confucianism.   A central idea in Mohism is ‘Impartial Caring’, where Mozi advocates that  many societal and familial conflicts can be resolved if only everyone would  love and care for the families of others just as they would love and care for  our own families. This would eliminate the prejudice of others since one  would care for them as one’s own family; and eliminate selfish greed of the  upper class in society since they would care enough as to reasonably share  society’s resources with the much less well­off.  One can also detect a great sense of practicality in Mozi’s ideas and policies. He advocates that one should really only follow tradition because it  somehow actually benefits the people of the world in their welfare, and if a  tradition or long­accepted norm does more harm than good, it should be  reevaluated and perhaps abandoned. He lays out the arguments for this in  Chapter 16 and 25 of the book of Mozi.  o This is also reflected in his ‘condemnation of fatalism’ expressed in  Chapter 35 of Mozi, wherein he denies what are essentially  superstitious “excuses” of fatalists who say that things will be good  only if fate means it to be good, otherwise there is nothing to be done.  Mozi himself clearly believes in taking action to change things rather  than waiting for circumstances to change by itself. Also laid out in  this are his ideas of gauging the logic and correctness of an argument  or action by means having a precedent for it to look to, evidence  supporting its logic, and its application and its apparent effects being  good and beneficial.  Confucian ‘Goodness’ (8/30) and Start Mohism (9/1) (Week 2)  A short essay assignment was due on Tuesday (8/30) about what ‘goodness’ is according to Confucius. Here is a list of the most relevant passages that I have gathered after reading through Analects of Confucius section of the textbook (RCCP: Readings in Classical Chinese Philosophy by P.J. Ivanhoe and W. Van Norden): o 3.3 Only a good person can appreciate the value of ritual/manners and culture/music o 4.1 - 4.7 The importance of Goodness o 5.8 ‘Ability’ is not goodness o 5.10 One’s action reflects goodness o 5.19 ‘Dutifulness’ and ‘purity’ (either one by itself) is not goodness o 6.22 (2nd half) finally gives a direct ‘definition’ of goodness  What I personally noticed about Goodness from these passages is that Confucius is extremely reluctant to praise a person to be “good” from knowing that they seem to have a single “good” quality (ability, dutifulness, purity, etc. by itself) about him. o This seems to agree with the passage of 6.22, where he finally says that a good person is concerned first with his/her own ‘self- cultivation’—the bettering of oneself by studying and practicing qualities that are good—to become as “complete” as possible and in doing so reach the state of being the Confucian “gentleman”. o This also agrees with the passage 2.12, where Confucius says that a ‘gentleman’ should not be a “vessel” that is of a single use/quality, but should be as well rounded in abilities/learning/qualities as possible.  Another very important Confucian concept about the ‘good person’ to notice is the “duality” of Action and Intention. Confucius seems to think the truly good person will perform all the right and appropriate actions and that these actions are only worthwhile and ‘good’ when they are based upon sincere intentions. If a person only has good intentions and do not act, he/she falls into being a hypocrite and “petty person” by only thinking and claiming about being good; whereas if a person only performs good deeds yet does so only because he/she has been told so by others or by law, this is also hypocrisy. o In addition to these there have also been many cases in history around the world in which a person (usually a politician or statesman…make of this what you will ) perform good deeds in order to gain favor with the public, but only because this will help them advance their own profit/status/wealth. This is the case where both actions and intentions are ‘fulfilled’, but the intention is corrupt and crooked. This st helps explain quote 4.2 from Analects given to us on the 1 day of class: ‘…those who are wise follow Goodness because they feel that they will profit from it’. The wise and good profit in seeing and having good done unto others, whereas the wise and evil do so by profiting in selfish gains.  Mozi (c. 480-390 BCE) was born into the Warring States Period and around the time that Confucius passed away and may have studied Confucian thought before leaving it and forming his own school of thought that has its unique view and criticism of Confucianism.  A central idea in Mohism is ‘Impartial Caring’, where Mozi advocates that many societal and familial conflicts can be resolved if only everyone would love and care for the families of others just as they would love and care for our own families. This would eliminate the prejudice of others since one would care for them as one’s own family; and eliminate selfish greed of the upper class in society since they would care enough as to reasonably share society’s resources with the much less well-off.  One can also detect a great sense of practicality in Mozi’s ideas and policies. He advocates that one should really only follow tradition because it somehow actually benefits the people of the world in their welfare, and if a tradition or long-accepted norm does more harm than good, it should be reevaluated and perhaps abandoned. He lays out the arguments for this in Chapter 16 and 25 of the book of Mozi. o This is also reflected in his ‘condemnation of fatalism’ expressed in Chapter 35 of Mozi, wherein he denies what are essentially superstitious “excuses” of fatalists who say that things will be good only if fate means it to be good, otherwise there is nothing to be done. Mozi himself clearly believes in taking action to change things rather than waiting for circumstances to change by itself. Also laid out in this are his ideas of gauging the logic and correctness of an argument or action by means having a precedent for it to look to, evidence supporting its logic, and its application and its apparent effects being good and beneficial.


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