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The Paradox of Confucianism

Confucianism positions itself beside Taoism as one of the two great religions native to China. The name Confucius emerges as the latinized version of the Chinese Kong Fuzi, an esteemed Chinese sage and philosopher who lived in the sixth to the fifth centuries B.C. The moral and philosophical teachings of Confucius, especially those he expounded about the concept of the "superior man", emerged as the dominant system of thought and ethics in China from the 3rd century B.C. until the 1911 revolution. The paradox of Confucianism is that it has contributed to China's greatest strengths and weaknesses by promoting respect for the aged, strong familial bonds, fierce loyalty, moderation and principle even as it stalled progress, deterred scientific progress, subjugated women, impaired the enterprise and adventure of young men, and devalued speculative thought, manual labor and mechanical inventions.

Confucius is believed to have been born in 551 B.C. in Qufu, a small Chinese village nestled at the bottom of a mountain.

Confucius is not to be mistaken for a god or even a Prophet of God. In the Analects Confucius specifies that he cannot claim to be either a Divine Sage or even a Good Man since the most he can ever hope even to meet is "a true gentleman." He further clarifies that he is not a divine person or one born "with innate knowledge" but rather is "simply one who loves the past and who is diligent in investigating it." In analyzing the dynasties which preceded his own age Confucius determined after careful study that the best of Chinese government and culture had occurred 500 years prior to his birth. Confucius attempted to persuade his contemporaries that states should strive to win the trust of their people, set a good example in their own practices, attempt to avoid unnecessary warfare, use almost no corporal punishment and allow scholars such as himself to govern.

Confucius was born into a family which co...

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