Why is education important in Confucianism? 

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Confucianism is an ethical system that originated in China in the 6th century, B.C.E. The Xueji ("On Teaching and Learning") lays out the educational philosophy of Confucianism and was influential in the development of China's education system in the pre-modern era. Its opening passages outlines the central role of education...

See
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

Confucianism is an ethical system that originated in China in the 6th century, B.C.E. The Xueji ("On Teaching and Learning") lays out the educational philosophy of Confucianism and was influential in the development of China's education system in the pre-modern era. Its opening passages outlines the central role of education in the Confucian thought:

If a ruler desires to transform the people [and] perfect [their] customs, [the ruler] can only do so through education!

The perfection and transformation of people is accomplished through their understanding of the Tao ("way" or "path") and comprehension of Tao is of penultimate importance in Confucianism. According to Confucianism, the Tao can only be understood through learning and study, further underlying the importance of education. The Xueji explains that:

Although the ultimate Tao is present, [one] does not know [its] goodness if [one] does not learn it.

A final point of importance in education is in its role in the development of character and proper behavior. Only the learned are able to conduct themselves in a composed and refined way.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Education is an important aspect of Confucianism because it was regarded as an equalizing factor within the community with the aim of offering each individual an equal opportunity to succeed. It is through education that people from even the deprived section of the society were accorded a chance to rise and aspire for better. In Confucianism, education was also used to maintain the society’s code of ethics and transferring the same to future generations. Confucianism asserts that it is only through education that people are able to develop understanding of different subjects. Confucius considered education as an important tool in the restoration of meaning and society values. Education was important to Confucianism because it was seen as a factor in the cultivation of character and the development of gentlemen who are able to express themselves in a composed and intelligent manner.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Education is vitally important in Confucianism as it sees the way in which human beings improve is through education, learning, and understanding.  Confucianism is distinct in how it does not ascribe any permanent and lasting characteristics to human nature.  Consider Confucius' words to this point:

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

This means that human beings are born in a similar tract and it is through education and experiences that can enlighten through which they are able to better understand the world and their place in it.  For Confucianism, the embrace of the Five Virtues is only through education and understanding.  "By study and practice" is how human beings evolve in Confucian thought.  The ability to govern oneself is something that is rooted in education and understanding, and through this, the political implications of Confucian thought is equally evident.  Learning and education is both formal and informal, done through interaction with others and with instructors, as well as with oneself.  In all of these domains, education is of vital importance to the attainment of Confucian goals and aspirations.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team