Is Confucianism Religion or Philosophy

As a way of life taught by Confucius in the 6th to 5th century BC, Confucianism is at times viewed as a religion and times as a philosophy. It is probably best understood as an all-inclusive humanism that neither refutes nor degrades heaven. The Chinese have followed Confucianism for more than two centuries. Political, education, attitudes towards the right personal behaviors, individuals role in the society, as well as the spiritual life of Chinese have been greatly influenced by Confucianism for all that time. Though many people from the Asian communities may proclaim to be Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, Taoists or Muslims they never ceases to be Confucians.

As stated by Samson (para. 7) the founder of Confucianism, Confucius, wanted to be a prime minister but he failed. He therefore dedicated his life to preaching good morals and conduct of life. After his death, he became the Chinese most honored person and set an influential history for the Chinese. Some of the principles incorporated in the Chinese law were developed by Confucius.  According to Confucius, the only way to please God as well as the gods is through good conduct with your neighbors, family, and the community at large. He stated that if a person is good, God likes himher automatically. The teachings of Confucius were more of ethical philosophy, educational principles and political rather than religious philosophy. The word Jen used to summarize all his teachings is used to refer to social virtues. These virtues play a major role of maintaining social harmony and peace. Theobald (para. 6) notes that humaneness is the major principle of Confucianism.  It is exemplified by an extremely positive view of human nature. The belief in the likelihood of ordinary people becoming knowledgeable and valuable is deeply rooted in the legacy of Confucianism and the persistence that people can easily be taught, improve and perfect by way of personal as well as communal activities is typically Confucian.

Confucianism does not dictate the performance of any specific ritual or practice aside from its significant moral principles. Emphasis on specific rituals and practices is the work of other religious groups which Confucians follow. Some religious practices found in the Confucian texts have their roots from non-Confucian traditional Chinese beliefs. Confucianism does conduct teachings on the worship of God or gods and life after death because they do not involve churches or clergies. Confucianism does not have priesthood or any monastic order as it is with religion. There are no specified religious services on Confucianism and it can be practiced from anywhere. Confucianism does not dwell much on life after death as religion does. This passes Confucianism as a philosophy of life rather than a religion. According to Confucius, everybody is fundamentally perfect and good. This stream of philosophy however does not accept as true the exposure to rites and extreme statism. The strongholds of Confucianism are the personal as well as state control over every activity conducted by man within the dictates of metaphysics and unconventional principle of radical thinking.

In ancient China, there was no term religion. However, people worshipped heaven as their God. Confucianism can therefore be referred to as a science of God but not a religion. Confucius himself was a strong believer of heaven, as God, and preached about it in order to enlighten people. Through his preachings, people could unite with heaven and become manifested without any display produce changes without any movement and accomplish its purpose without any efforts.  His teachings were the holiest teachings and up to now no believer can conflict with them. He believed that all people in the world are brothers and sisters servants of only one God.

His teachings stressed on loyalty as well as centralized authority but not obedience just for the sake. These teachings later resulted to a variety of tests for the lower leaders. He set out guidelines for those who were fit to serve the public and these guidelines are still in use up to date. Confucianism is therefore an incorporation of the system of philosophy and thoughts of Confucius, the Chinese social philosopher. It encompasses morality in the political circles, morals in social relationships, social justice as well as the honesty in all human activities. Confucianism occurred together with doctrines such as legalism and Taoism in the ancient china.

Confucianism addresses the intricacies and optimism behind human principles as well as the value of righteous practices. It comprises of ethical, social, political, and religious ideals that have greatly influenced the Chinese culture. Some of the products of Confucianism include the governmental promotion of moral values and relevance of education taking into consideration personal moral development in china and other Asian communities. Confucianism puts emphasis on the individual as well as the state as united by ethical virtues rather than coercive rule. Another principle of Confucianism is that the head of a kingdom or a family is simply a figurehead who rules from inside a vacuum of authority, trying as much as possible to establish a military and political dominance without ceasing. Confucius stated that the presence of the correct legal principles in the entire family or kingdom is what is required to sustain the unit with every successive triumph.

Recent conversation about Confucianism maintains that it is a very important aspect to the modern world philosophical sphere and should not be confined to the East Asian background. Many argue that it upholds a multicultural philosophy of culture thereby developing a Christian-    Confucian debate.


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