My Photo
Follow UselessTree on Twitter



  • eXTReMe Tracker
Blog powered by Typepad
Member since 07/2005

« Don't Blame Confucius... | Main | Mozi Query »

February 23, 2009


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Hi Sam,

I thought I made it clear in my Post that 1) to say that duty to parent is the central duty which Confucius' moral theory is founded on is NOT to say that it is the only duty-- that other duties do in fact matter (and yes, that includes friendship and duty between ruler and ruled). I will repeat it again for the 3rd time (since it is always pointless to fight a straw man): there are many duties that are clearly defined-- the point being these are not duties a person can choose or not choose to take on (though the interpretation of how the duty is carried out is a creative and particular process based on context)-- But that _this_ duty is the base of our moral lives.

2) This was also stated clearly in my post and most commentators probably address it as well I think: this is not a blind devotion and part of a child's duty to parent is helping them do the right thing as well-- hence Mencius' Emperor Shun.

None of this above has anything to do with the point of my question though.

It would be as if I said, water is the foundation for our health (about which without it good health would not be possible so this should be reflected in any presentation about health) and you countered that yes, but so is food and exercise. Yes, but no one was saying that those things are also not necessary-- just that without water we cannot live (and that fact is not being emphasized so I am worried). And then if you countered that, well not all water is safe-- then I would say, well then it looks we have reached a dead end in the conversation.

Mencius said,
Of services, which is the greatest? The service of parents is the greatest. Of charges, which is the greatest? The charge of one’s self is the greatest. That those who do not fail to keep themselves are able to serve their parents is what I have heard. [Book 4 .19]

Mencius said,
‘There are three things which are unfilial, and to have no posterity is the greatest of them. Shun married without informing his parents because of this, - lest he should have no posterity.

Superior men (Junzi) consider that his doing so was the same as if he had informed them.’ [4. 26]
(The other five unfilial things are common usage of the age. – 4 II. 30)

Mencius said,
‘The richest fruit of benevolence is this, - the service of one’s parents. The richest fruit of righteousness is this, - the obeying one’s elder brothers. The richest fruit of wisdom is this, - the knowing those two things, and not departing from them. The richest fruit of propriety is this, - the ordering and adorning those two things.’ [4. 27] (Also refer to the Book of Filial Piety.)

I particularly like this explanation by Legge on 4. 26.
‘To be without posterity is greater than the other two faults - to encourage parents in unrighteousness and to not succor their poverty and old age by engaging in official service; - because it is an offence against the whole line of ancestors, and terminates the sacrifices to them.’ It shows that he and/or his mentor(s) are versed with ancient Chinese philosophy.

Courtship, marriage, family relationships, and how to remonstrate with parents are taught in the Book of Changes (Yijing / The Yi). The hexagrams depict their importance to the Junzi.

From the quotes in the blog entry, it appears that Confucius and Mencius have learned these things from the Yi too.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Aidan's Way

  • :

    Understanding disability from a Taoist point of view