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Lionel Jensen

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  Quote MengTzu Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Lionel Jensen
    Posted: 20-Aug-2004 at 19:32

Hey all,

    Has anyboy read Lionel Jensen's "Manufacturing Confucianism?"  What do people think?

Peace,

Michael

8-20-2004

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  Quote Tobodai Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20-Aug-2004 at 21:37
no, never heard of it, but I do know I do not like Confucianism at all, in fact it is my least favorite philosophy in the world.  And yet China was so great...just imagine how much greater she could have been with a better guiding principal...
"the people are nothing but a great beast...
I have learned to hold popular opinion of no value."
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  Quote MengTzu Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20-Aug-2004 at 23:40
How would you define Confucianism?
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  Quote Tobodai Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21-Aug-2004 at 01:31

I would define it as too hierarchical, unnecessarily bureaucratic, nebulous state worship with too much attention towards honoring old people and not enough emphasis on improvement or innovation.  Theres alot of that emperor and court reigns supreme stuff that I think Lao Tzu summed up greatly :

The people are difficult to keep in order, because of those above them interfering. Or: I dig the well for water; I plow the field for food: What use do I have for the emperors power!

Please dont be offended, I am fascinated by Chinese history, but it is within Chinese sources themselves that I find the best reasons not to like Confucianism, especially in the ealry 20th century with the literature fromt eh youth movements.

However I will conceide that there is one thing I do like about Confucianisms impact, and that was to always keep China comparitively secular and largely above superstitious national stigmas that EUrope and the Middle East are so prone to, or at least where.

"the people are nothing but a great beast...
I have learned to hold popular opinion of no value."
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  Quote demon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21-Aug-2004 at 07:31

How would you define Confucianism?

A way to regulate society's values, that contribute to the rise of a nation.  In these days, it sounds absurd, but it's got some values that still are worthy.

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  Quote MengTzu Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21-Aug-2004 at 16:20

Hey demon,

    you wrote, "A way to regulate society's values, that contribute to the rise of a nation.  In these days, it sounds absurd, but it's got some values that still are worthy."

    That's sort of what Confucianism is, but in effect, all ideologies regulate social values.  Even Taoist philosophy, which promotes deconstructing society, once it is popularly accepted, has the effect of regulating society.

    Confucianism actively constructs society, so it certainly informs social values.  But it's still much more than that.  It's unfortunate that most of what people see in Confucianism is how it superficially differs from other Eastern religions.

Peace,

Michael

8-21-2004

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  Quote MengTzu Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21-Aug-2004 at 16:42

Hey Tobodai,

    "I would define it as too hierarchical, unnecessarily bureaucratic, nebulous state worship with too much attention towards honoring old people and not enough emphasis on improvement or innovation."

    That depends on which school of Confucianism you refer to.  An "upside down" hierarchy is found in Mencius' work: the people first, the spirits of the land and grain second (some interpret this to mean "country"), the king last.  A concentric hierarchy is also found in Da Xue: self-cultivation, familial order, national government, worldwide pacification.  "State worship" is certainly found in Gong Yang's "Under Heaven, there is none but the king's land," but a much more prominent feature in Confucian classics is state criticism.  The Classic of Filial Piety speaks of the necessity of remonstration from subjects -- that it is necessary that a king be remonstrated.  According to Mencius, a king can be exiled, a regime can be overthrown.  Confucianism is extremely multi-faceted, from humanistic ideals to practically totalitarian ones.

    Your take on its innovativeness, however, is very inaccurate.  It's true that Confucius "believes and likes the old," there's a trend in Confucianism for renovation.  The New Text schools of Han scholar Tung Chung Shu believe in a progressive interpretation of Chun Chiu: that is, a three-stage progression of social improvement.  Da Xue says: The Way of Great Learning is to illustrate illustrious virtues, to renew the people, and to rest in perfection.  The history of Confucianism is one of constant renovation and reinvention: Confucius' school splits into eight, then Han classical Confucianism was established, leading to the New Text schools and the Old Texts schools, then Cheng and Wang schools, then Tang's orthodoxy, then Song Ming Neo-Confucian orthodox schools, then Ching's Neo-Han classical schools, etc.  Along the way, Confucianis is influenced by Taoists, Buddhists, and Christians.  Many great reformers were motivated by Confucianism, such as Wang An Shi and Kang Yu Wei.  Your very own Japanese Confucians were the most innovative of all.  One of them came up with an unheard of "capitalist Confucianism."  The Meiji restoration is also partly motivated by Neo-Confucian schools of Mind.

    The people are difficult to keep in order, because of those above them interfering. Or: I dig the well for water; I plow the field for food: What use do I have for the emperors power!

    Good quote.  I've written too much, but there is actually an interesting relation between Confucianism and Taoism.  The conventional idea that they are contradictory is oversimplistic.  But perhaps I'll save this topic for another time.

"Please dont be offended,"

    Of course not.  It does appear that you have only scratched the surface of Confucianism though.

"I am fascinated by Chinese history, but it is within Chinese sources themselves that I find the best reasons not to like Confucianism, especially in the ealry 20th century with the literature fromt eh youth movements."

    Ironic, because these youth movements were what eventually culminated in the ascendency of Communism.  These kids were very socialistic.  

"However I will conceide that there is one thing I do like about Confucianisms impact, and that was to always keep China comparitively secular and largely above superstitious national stigmas that EUrope and the Middle East are so prone to, or at least where."

    Perhaps.  I wouldn't try to compare the East and West too much.  The "secular, rational" Confucianism is a overblown imagination by the West.  The reality of Confucianism was much more complex and subtle.  Confucianism has its religious side too, after all.

Peace,

Michael

8-21-2004

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  Quote General_Zhaoyun Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23-Aug-2004 at 02:11
You will be surprised that there is a thought in Confucianism that stresses balance and harmony. It is the way to construct a society and stablize it.. calling in the "Middle Way"..
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  Quote Tobodai Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23-Aug-2004 at 15:48
yes but its the less stable, more dynamic societies that suceed in the modern world and past 300 years.
"the people are nothing but a great beast...
I have learned to hold popular opinion of no value."
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  Quote MengTzu Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23-Aug-2004 at 19:48

Hey Tobodai,

    There you are.  Did you read my longer reply?  If you have read it, you'll notice that your original definition of Confucianism is inconsistent with a lot of the formal classical contents of Confucianism.

    I don't want to divert to a different topic, but you brought up an important point: are the recent "unstable" peoples "successful?"

    The few European countries that have ravaged the world have done precisely that: ravaged the world.  Racism took on its modern form due to colonialism.  The resource-exploitative method of economy is socially self-destructively.  Notice that I'm not pitting Confucianism against this, I'm on to a different topic now.  I'm simply challenging your definition of "success."  It's quite tragic that many Asian countries also define success in similarly narrow standards.

Peace,

Michael

8-23-2004

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  Quote Gubook Janggoon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24-Aug-2004 at 14:00
I think any ideology can be good as long as you follow a middle path of moderation...once you stray too far left or too far right into the extremes...it becomes evil...yes evil
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  Quote MengTzu Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24-Aug-2004 at 14:50

Hey Gubukjanggoon,

    Incidentally, "the middle moderate way" is a key concept in Confucianism.

Peace,

Michael

8-24-2004

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  Quote Tobodai Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24-Aug-2004 at 15:14
Originally posted by MengTzu

Hey Tobodai,

    There you are.  Did you read my longer reply?  If you have read it, you'll notice that your original definition of Confucianism is inconsistent with a lot of the formal classical contents of Confucianism.

    I don't want to divert to a different topic, but you brought up an important point: are the recent "unstable" peoples "successful?"

    The few European countries that have ravaged the world have done precisely that: ravaged the world.  Racism took on its modern form due to colonialism.  The resource-exploitative method of economy is socially self-destructively.  Notice that I'm not pitting Confucianism against this, I'm on to a different topic now.  I'm simply challenging your definition of "success."  It's quite tragic that many Asian countries also define success in similarly narrow standards.

Peace,

Michael

8-23-2004

 

It doesnt matter what its official definition is, in practice once the original vitality of a dynasty decays confucian societies revert in on themselves and stagnate.  Historically, once the strucutre falls apart the theory of the structure has no purpose so nothing can be done until a new central power is established.  The time thats wasted between dynasties and political powers therefore largely goes down the drain with little to show.

Whereas in the "evil imperialistic west" which isnt any different in subjigating people than anyone else, only more successful, times of fracture and competing nations produce technological and societal innovation.  Ever heard of democracy? thats a western invention, how about railroads, computers etc etc? Sure the world would be so much better without these things...is that what your trying to say?

Just like when Europe was so pathetically backwards it had a more advanced civilization transmitted to it from teh east so now the tides have changed.  Its not racist at all, its just acknowledging that differnet people have been the beacons of civilization and the advancement thereof at different times.  For most of the worlds history it has been Chin..but my point is, not inthe last 300 years.

"the people are nothing but a great beast...
I have learned to hold popular opinion of no value."
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  Quote MengTzu Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24-Aug-2004 at 20:00

Hey Tobodai,

    "It doesnt matter what its official definition is, in practice once the original vitality of a dynasty decays confucian societies revert in on themselves and stagnate."

    I'm not talking about official definition of Confucianism, which constantly changed.  I'm talking about what Confucius and all the Confucian scholars actually said.  It would be unfair to take one or two fanatical Christians' view as representative of all of Christianity, don't you think?  That's what I'm saying.  If you want to define what Confucianism is, you would at the least have to define it based on what they actually believe.

    "Historically, once the strucutre falls apart the theory of the structure has no purpose so nothing can be done until a new central power is established.  The time thats wasted between dynasties and political powers therefore largely goes down the drain with little to show."

    That has nothing to do with what I'm talking about.

    "Whereas in the "evil imperialistic west" which isnt any different in subjigating people than anyone else, only more successful, times of fracture and competing nations produce technological and societal innovation."

    Yeah, but they are more successful in subjugating people than anyone else.  Is that your kind of success?

    "Ever heard of democracy? thats a western invention, how about railroads, computers etc etc? Sure the world would be so much better without these things...is that what your trying to say?"

    Democracy is doubtlessly a brilliant idea, but it's only a Western invention in so far as the Europeans were the first to formulate it (many others, including the Chinese, had some idea of it.)  The problem is that Democracy never happened in practice.  Majority rule is no different from mob rule, and unanimous vote is practically impossible.  Railroad and computers -- every technology solves one problem and creates another.  It really depends how you define "success" -- as far as I'm concerned, the resource-exploitative mode of production of today isn't very successful in the big picture.

    "Just like when Europe was so pathetically backwards it had a more advanced civilization transmitted to it from teh east so now the tides have changed."

    That is a common misconception.  Europe's "Dark Age" isn't quite as dark as we imagine it to be.  The Byzantine empire maintained a high level of culture.  The intellectual culture, such as that of the Catholic monasteries, is quite impressive.  Granted that they were as "advance," I wouldn't say they were pathetically backward.

    "Its not racist at all, its just acknowledging that differnet people have been the beacons of civilization and the advancement thereof at different times.  For most of the worlds history it has been Chin..but my point is, not inthe last 300 years."

    You misunderstood what I said.  Let me remind you of what I actually said.  "Racism took on its modern form due to colonialism."  Now let me clarify what I meant: I didn't say that the competition of different countries -- the success of one and the failure of another -- is racist.  I was saying that racism, in its modern form, first formulated in Enlightenment Europe (an era that sought to justify colonialism) as an intellectual, theoretical point of view.  Beating other people up and taking their stuff, forcing them to learn from you, that's just being an arrogant bully, that's not racism.  I'm referring to Enlightenment racism, which is much more frightening and much more sophisticated than that.  I suggest that you read Hegel, an important figure of the Enlightenment period, and you're in for a big surprise.  Racism doesn't recognize the possibility that civilization can appear in one place and then in another later.  Rather, the idea is that people are biologically predisposed to have culture: Europeans being the most predisposed to civilization, while others are less predisposed.  Now, this racist stuff seems pretty primitive to us now, since we have transcended it and noted its clear error.  But something has been done, and it's difficult to be undone: it was with racist theory that the idea of "race" was first defined.  Before, people were defined in terms of where they were from, what familial ties they had; their physical features might be noted, but are not the basis of the pigeon holes that contain them.  The Mongolians came close to formulating a racist ideology during its occupation of China (such as defining people with eye color other than dark as "better people,") but no one has attempted to give a biological, scientific categorization of people -- and that's what race is, albeit a faulty categorization.  I should stop now and save some for next time, cuz I can go on and on.

Peace,

Michael

8-24-2004



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