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Businessmen introduce Confucian ideas into management.

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The Chinese obsession with education is very much a legacy of Confucius. Chinese President Xi Jinping often cites Confucius in his speeches. Is he, like the old emperors, using the s age to justify authoritarianism? I believe that is exactly what President Xi is doing. Now the Chinese Communist Party is attempting to do the same — use a carefully crafted version of an undeniably Chinese political tradition to legitimize its rule while holding off unwanted Western ideals about human rights and democracy.

I also think Xi may be emphasizing Confucian morality as part of his campaign to clean up corruption and improve the quality of the civil service.

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China is using Chinese language-teaching Confucius Institutes to promote its "soft power" in the world. Will it succeed?

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Hundreds of Confucius Institutes now operate from the U. But they have little to do with Confucius. They primarily promote the study of Chinese language and culture. They have also been highly controversial. Since a Chinese government agency oversees the Institutes and has some control over their programs, critics see the Institutes as a ploy by Beijing to control academic discourse on China. Instead of forging a more benign image of China in the world, the Institutes appear to be reinforcing distrust of China in the West.

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What answers can be found in Confucianism for contemporary problems in the West, such as wealth disparities and education failures? Many Confucian ideals are timeless and universal. On economics, for instance, Confucius believed that government had the responsibility to care for the well-being of all of its citizens. He thought that high taxes and other government burdens deprived the common man of the fruits of their hard work. Later Confucians took his lead and advocated for egalitarian economic policies that redistributed wealth.

On education, Confucius believed that learning was an essential practice for self-improvement. On politics generally, Confucius argued that all officials should make decisions for selfless, not selfish, reasons. The best way to govern in the ideal Confucian state was with virtue. You dedicate the book to your wife, Eunice Yoon, who you describe as "my favorite Confucian.

My wife is Korean-American, and was born and raised in the Midwestern United States, so she is far from the traditional Korean women. However, ideals that she learned within her home still have an impact on our lives today. She also engages in the very Confucian practice of looking into herself when something goes badly, to see how she may have contributed to the problem, rather than lashing out at others, which is a way of maintaining peaceful relations not just within the family, but with the world at large as well.

It is impossible to read Confucius without being influenced by his ideas in some ways. Little is known about Confucius' life, but his core principles have survived to this day. He promoted filial piety, learnedness, and responsible government.

Confucius and the World He Created - CHINA US Focus

He also promoted hierarchy, in families, business, and the public sphere. Today, this has resulted in strong family networks and education, but also autocratic government and inequality for women. Schuman reveals that although the arrival of Communism, capitalism, and democracy have not toppled Confucius from his central place in Asian culture, they have forced his followers to adapt his legacy to the modern world. The book is divided into three parts. Schuman begins with the historical context and a detailed explication of Confucius's life, times and philosophy.

Each chapter examines a different aspect of Confucius and each part is presented in exactly the same way. We have Confucius the man, sage, king, oppressor, father, teacher, chauvinist, businessman, politician, and communist.

The last three categories deal with Confucius in the contemporary world, and how he has made a comeback in the China of today. All these "incarnations" of Confucius add up to a complex figure, but the epilogue, entitled "Seeking the Real Confucius," puts the man firmly in perspective. For Schuman, Confucius is far from a dry old reactionary or one of the "olds", as the Red Guard scornfully named him as they tried to root him out of China's conscience but "a voice of boundless humanity and unswerving determination He would not submit to the will of immoral men or abusive regimes.

Confucius believed in humanity; there is no doubt that he thought that we all had innate goodness in us.

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He was no pawn of rulers, and at all times he stressed benevolence and sincerity over money, power, or birthright. If we were to compare him to a Western figure and we inevitably incline to do this , it would be Socrates, although Confucius did not meet the same fate.


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The three parts of the book show the incredible versatility of Confucianism, how it penetrated every level of human life in China and Korea , but nonetheless remained rooted in principles everyone could understand, but that few, it seemed, actually followed in the aspect that mattered, namely how to govern China successfully. As the chapters proceed, Schuman shows clearly how Confucius's ideas became distorted, misinterpreted, and put into the service of various kinds of oppressors, much as the Nazis adopted Nietzsche or fundamentalists of various stamps have hijacked Jesus and Mohammed, the latter being comparisons which Schuman mentions more than once.

What strikes the reader is the sheer endurance of Confucianism in the face of the monumental changes in society and the distortions of rulers; the reason for this, Schuman tells us, is the sheer adaptability of the philosophy,which he believes "can provide what China is missing" today. Whether Schuman is engaging in optimistic exaggeration remains to be seen. Schuman explains Confucius's teachings in clear language without "talking down" to the uninformed reader, and what he comes up with is actually quite an attractive and profound philosophy, not the jokey "Confucius say" of popular imagination and fortune cookies.

Confucius stressed sincerity, knowledge, and good actions, all of which may be arrived at through study and the emulation of moral exemplars. For Confucius, humans are always more important than property; a story is told, for example, that when he was informed that a stable had burned down he asked whether anyone was hurt, not whether the horses were injured. Schuman also explains how Confucius emphasized the importance of formal study, in particular the study of the classics, not as a dry exercise, but as a way of showing contemporary Chinese, who lived in a very volatile world full of dynastic warfare and uncertainty, that humans could be rational and at one time showed a propensity for virtue rather than vice, a resource into which they could tap with the proper guidance.