After reading this first chapter on Confucianism, I am surprisingly disappointed as I felt that much more information (and explanation of quotes) could have been included to further define and show modern contexts of Confucianism. However, there was interesting information included when discussing Confucius’ ideas.
One of the first things I found interesting is the fact that Confucius is highly concerned with human welfare, but not general nature on earth. He deliberately avoids discussing nature and views on God even though he will use the word “ming” for talking about the Decree of Heaven and Destiny. Does this mean that Confucius does not believe there is a god in heaven? Or does he simply not share his religious beliefs because he possibly thinks focusing on human morality to get to Heaven is more important than focusing on a god and uncontrollable nature?
It is also greatly interesting that Confucianism forces followers to focus on being moral by saying forwardly that one cannont control social status, and other aspects in life as they are apart of Destiny. Confucius’ point is basically “you can’t control your life, material wealth, and social class so why waste your time trying when you can put effort forth to be a moral sage and have control over the Decree of Heaven”. It is a direct and slyly intelligent way of convincing people to stop wasting time on unimportant things in life and work on becoming moral and “good” people.
One thing that frustrated me is that women are not included in Confucianism and that Confucius is entirely intent on human morality yet disregards women and supposedly insults them. As he refers to them as being in the group of “small men,” he is generalizing that all women are selfish, work only for profit, are rebellious to authority and do not ever attempt to become moral. The chapter states that “although the Confucian path to perfection may be expanded by its advocates to include both genders, the Analects poses a problem for readers who believe in the equality of the sexes” (pg 25); that statement is true for me because as a woman and a strong believer in equality of the sexes I would find it rude to keep reading about how men can expand their life to be “good” people, while women are talked down to and basically told that they cannot be moral. Maybe other sexist people in today’s time would agree with Confucius, but in 2012 and with the advancements of women in the world, I would sure hope that even men would be a bit confused or insulted by how Confucius treats women who are the mothers of all those “perfectly moral” men.