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Philosophy of Man (Humanities 2)

by Bro. Edilberto “Bert” B. Concordia

The PHILOSOPHY OF MAN according to CONFUCIUS (Kong Zi)

 Confucius’ philosophy of life is in sharp contrast with Buddha.
 For Confucius, life is not a delusion, a curse and misery as assumed by Buddha, but
1. a living reality,
2. a blessing,
3. a natural priceless right and opportunity to be with your fellows to work together for your
common good and finally attain your destiny that is Happiness.
 Man’s perfection and happiness is realized and achieved in social life.
 Kong Zi is more concerned with reconciliations of conflicts, and advocated harmony among men
in society.
 “The life of the moral man is an exemplification of the universal order. The life of the vicious man
is a contradiction thereof.”


 In point of size, man is only an infinitesimal atom compared with the seemingly infinite cosmos of
galaxies and super galaxies. But to Confucius, man transcends in significance the whole world
because of his moral being. Before the universe, man is just a dot, but he can think and love while
the world cannot.
 Being part of nature, the moral man lives in accordance with the natural law that governs and
guides the movements of all things.
 In constantly doing what is good as commanded by his nature, man becomes one with the
natural law, is attuned to the rhythm of the universe and thus enjoys peace and happiness.
 According to Kong Zi:
“To find the central clue to our moral being that unites us with the universal order- herein lies
man’s greatest achievements.”


 Reason and the natural law constantly enjoin man to live righteously, to offend no one
and to give one his due. And that is basically the law or principle of justice.
 Golden rule of Kong Zi:
“Do not do unto others what you yourself do not like others do unto you.”
In a more positive formula “Treat others as you wish them to treat you.”
 If all men observe the golden rule in their lives, there will be no conflict, on the contrary there
will be peace and harmony among men in society.
 Confucius made this rule for the foundation of universal brotherhood, for the attainment of
which he dedicated and devoted his whole lifetime.

C. Components of Man’s Being

1. Body and soul

2. Matter and mind
3. Reason and passion
4. Intellect and sense
5. Flesh and spirit

 Man, with his natural gift of reason and will can put order and beauty in his life by constantly
balancing and harmonizing the conflicting claims and counterclaims of his unruly components.
 Accordingly, the higher part of man which is REASON should rule and regulate the movements
of the lower appetites and passions, specifically, when the passion lords over a man’s life and
subordinate, the dictates of reason or conscience are defied and disregarded.


 For Confucius, Moral Law is everywhere.

 “There is nothing more real than that which the eyes cannot see. There is nothing more audible
than that which ears cannot hear.”
 MORAL LAW operates ceaselessly, eternally within us and outside of us: we cannot at any
moment of our life escape its operations, its binding force.
 SELF CONTROL is very necessary, that inner restraint in which man shows himself first as man-
that interior brake without which, man running with his uncontrolled passions would rush
headlong into disaster or tragedy. Thus, he says:


 The greatest obstacle to human happiness according to Confucius is the EGO, the center seat of
selfishness and selfish desires fired and fanned by man’s lowest appetites.
 Therefore, in order to be happy man must subjugate the EGO., must bar and banish from the
human breast all selfishness and selfish desires.
 In short man must deny himself and control his passions. This is a prerequisite to the practice of
virtue and the attainment of perfection and happiness-- life’s’ summum bonum.

F. How to achieve a perfect Human Society?

1. Harmony and cooperation are necessary among men despite their differences, conflicting claims
and interests.
2. There should be maximum tolerance, constant balancing and reconciliation, a peaceful and
harmonious co-existence whenever possible.
3. Enduring harmony and brotherhood among men are the key factors.

G. The JEN (Ren)

 In Confucian ethics, JEN is equivalent to love, law and harmony.
 JEN is not only the crown of all virtues, it is the only one virtue from which all the virtues spring-
such as justice, generosity, kindness, liberality, temperance etc.
 In the cosmic vision of Confucius, all humanity forms one universal family of individuals and
peoples bounded together by one love (JEN).