What aspects of philosophy are the legacy of Confucius?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that Confucianism has left a profound impact on cultural thought.  It seems to me that this is not a regional distinction, but rather one that is seen in accepted principles of thought around the world.  Confucius' belief in the issue of human reciprocity not only formed the basis of his thought, but is something that is the basis of liberalized democracy around the world.  The fundamental precept of these social and political orders is one of reciprocal treatment.  This means that individuals act in accordance to not doing unto others what would not be done do unto the individual.  The construction of private realm where individuals are free from encroachment is something that is a part of liberal democratic society all over the world.  It is also something upon which Confucius based his thinking.  In my mind, the notion of Confucius' "blank slate" is something that predates the Lockian idea of "tabula rasa" and is one element that is vitally believed in throughout the world in different contexts.  Recall how Confucius defines human nature:

By nature men are similar; by practice men are wide apart.

This embrace of a vision of human nature that is carved out by experience is one that is nearly universally accepted in secular societies.  Confucius' nature of the individual is something that is seen throughout the world today and, along with his understanding of human interaction, represents vital aspects of his legacy.


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