Analects 6/19: How the evil can prosper in a moral universeAnalects 6/19"The Master said, 'People should live moral lives. If they live immoral ones, they will only survive by luck.'"The...

Analects 6/19: How the evil can prosper in a moral universe

Analects 6/19

"The Master said, 'People should live moral lives. If they live immoral ones, they will only survive by luck.'"

The Confucian concept of humanity assumes that human beings are naturally moral and should live morally, and that a moral life is in general harmony with the patterns of the universe. In systems with a powerful deity, the demand to live a moral life inevitably introduces a tension when good persons observe that it is by no means unknown for the good to suffer and the wicked to prosper, at least in this world. Confucius, on the other hand, with no concept of an active moral deity and no interest in punishments and rewards after death, has left himself room to explain the occasional success of the wicked as due to chance. Morality still remains the winning bet when one looks at and advises humanity as a whole, but it is not guaranteed to deliver in every single case.

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kwoo1213's profile pic

kwoo1213 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted on

Very interesting. I think interest in Confucian thought will grow in the West as China continues to export both its goods and its worldview. It would be nice to get some more basic information about Confucian thought to give those of us who have read little on the subject (Chinese thought 101) a bit of a primer. 

One thing to remember about Confucian thought is that it didn't create Chinese civilization but was a reaction to it -- in some ways, it was intended to address its most characteristic faults. Some of the problems it takes up are culture-specific, or largely so, but many are found in all human societies. That's what's interesting about humanistic moralists -- human beings haven't changed all that much and so what someone said 2500 years ago can still be very useful brain food. 

I totally agree with you about human beings not changing that much.

I find that many people, with the sorry state our world is in today, are looking to history for wisdom, including looking to people from centuries ago! 

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sagesource | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

Posted on

Very interesting. I think interest in Confucian thought will grow in the West as China continues to export both its goods and its worldview. It would be nice to get some more basic information about Confucian thought to give those of us who have read little on the subject (Chinese thought 101) a bit of a primer. 

One thing to remember about Confucian thought is that it didn't create Chinese civilization but was a reaction to it -- in some ways, it was intended to address its most characteristic faults. Some of the problems it takes up are culture-specific, or largely so, but many are found in all human societies. That's what's interesting about humanistic moralists -- human beings haven't changed all that much and so what someone said 2500 years ago can still be very useful brain food. 

sagesource's profile pic

sagesource | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

Posted on

This is really interesting and how true I find these assertions to be, really, after having time to think about them.  This is going to be an interesting group!

Thanks very much. I have been occupied but I plan to put up more posts soon taking up specific topics. The problem with just reading a translation of Confucius' sources is that sometimes there are nuances that come over poorly in even the best rendering into another language -- he appears to have had quite a dry sense of humor, for one thing, and was creative with his ambiguities, both of which have given translators trouble.

kwoo1213's profile pic

kwoo1213 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted on

This is really interesting and how true I find these assertions to be, really, after having time to think about them.  This is going to be an interesting group!

alexb2's profile pic

alexb2 | eNotes Employee

Posted on

Very interesting. I think interest in Confucian thought will grow in the West as China continues to export both its goods and its worldview. It would be nice to get some more basic information about Confucian thought to give those of us who have read little on the subject (Chinese thought 101) a bit of a primer. 

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