Confucian Ethics essay


Thereare several differences that exist between the western and theConfucian ethical systems. This is mainly in the ideal function andthe way people fit in the society. Firstly, the Confucian ethicsfocuses on the human relationship structure, especially on familyrelationship that provides an idealized model. Unlike thecontemporary western approaches, the Confucian ethics is morepaternalistic and hierarchical. Both the political and the socialphilosophies of Confucian ethics is modeled on the family model. Onthe other hand, the western political philosophy emphasis on thebasic human rights, and is distinctive for its individualism. Thiscreates a significant western opposition to individualism towardspolitical and ethics philosophy. Jones (56) urges that the westernmoral philosophy destroy the natural human relationships.

Further,Confucian ethics emphasizes on the right theory, equality of persons,and mutual respect in a human relationship (Ames56).It provides a relationship model based on common goals, shared ends,and responsibilities of each individual based on distinct socialrole. Confucian ethics is not a religion, but an ethical code. Itstresses more on individual duty towards others, especially one’ssuperiors, ceremonies, and tradition. On the contrary, westernphilosophiy put emphasis on individualism, spontaneity, andnon-conformity. It emphasizes on the significant part of the wholeinstead of the whole. In the western philosophy, the moral judgmentis not based on individual preferences or cultural upbringing. Forinstance, it considers body and mind as two separate parts withdifferent identities. It does not view them as two equal parts butdifferent parts that form one whole. On the contrary, the Confucianphilosophy emphasizes the whole (Ames63).For instance, the Indians and the Chinese do not differentiate regionand philosophy, or even divide their philosophies into differentbranches.

Confucianismethics is mainly practiced in China and South-East Asia. There aresix key components of Confucian ethics that are not found in thewestern philosophies. They include xi,zhi, li, ren, yi, and wen.Xiis one’s capacity to instill certain virtuous habits. According toJones (9), people should train themselves to behave ethically. Thisis because xidoes not have goodness or badness originality. However, differentpeople have different capacity for learning how to act virtuously.Zhiis the natural/native substance of a human being. A person canacquire it through education, and cultivate it through learning andpractice. Similar to xi,people are not born with good or mad moral hence, zhiis imperative and depends on individual’s self-motivation. Liis a concept of Confucian ethics whereby all rites of life areritualized and declared sacred. It deals outwards behaviors such asaccepted customs, etiquette, and morality. In addition, it holds thefive key relationships husband to wife, father to son, friend tofriend, elder to younger, and ruler to subject. According to Jones,renis an authoritative conduct (Jones n.p). It is only achievable in asocietal relationship of three or more people. It is imperative inethics because it advocates for appropriate three or more societalrelationship. According to Jones, yirefers to the idea of rightness, morality, and appropriate action(Jones n.p). It acts as a moral guide to an individual. In addition,it serves as a standard of value, though, and behavior, which issignificant to living with morality and value in life. Lastly, Wenrefers to activities done during leisure time such as music, art, andpoetry. These activities promote virtues within the community.


Ames,Roger T.&nbspTheArt of Rulership: A Study of Ancient Chinese Political Thought.Albany: State Univ. of New York Press, 1994. Print.

Jones,David E.&nbspConfuciusNow: Contemporary Encounters with the Analects.Chicago: Open Court, 2008. Internet resource.