Chinese Philosophy I.

The Chinese Mind
II.The Chinese Thinkers III.The Chinese Classics

I. The Chinese Mind

Recurring Dominant Key Ideas in the Teachings of the Sages
1. belief that the highest achievement of man as man is to be a sage or wise man; the highest achievement of a sage is the identification of the individual with the universe ³Sageliness within and kingliness without.´

2. belief that life is a gift to be treasured ³Life is desirable.´ 3. belief in the cycle of ups-and-downs and the right-and-left movement of the pendulum ³All that happens in the universe is a continuous whole like chain of natural sequence due to yang and yin.´ 4. belief in the coordination of thought and action ³Action must agree with thought.´

Other beliefs/philosophies:
‡ Chinese¶s Cosmic conception: ³All that happens in the universe is a continuous whole like chain of natural sequences. All events in the universe follow a transitional process due to the primeval pair, the yang and yin. The universe does not proceed onward but revolves without beginning or end. There is nothing new under the sun, everything is just a repetition of the old.´

‡ On happiness: ³Man¶s happiness lies in his conformity with tao, which can mean his conformity with nature, the course of which cannot be subject to man.´ ‡ On morality: ³Follow Tao ± what follows tao cannot be morally wrong, and what conflicts with tao cannot be morally right.´ And in following tao, man accomplishes his humanity. ³He who knows the Tao does not speak about it; he who speaks about it does not know it.´

‡ On Divine Power: ³There is no divine power that controls the motion of the universe, but everything is a result of the single or combined action of four factors : Tao, heaven, earth, king.´ ‡ On happiness: ³Man¶s happiness lies in his conformity with tao, which can mean his conformity with nature, the course of which cannot be subject to man.´

II. The Chinese Thinkers

1. Kung Tzu (551-479 B.C.) (Lun Yu)

Confucius: Analects or Sayings Of Confucius

a. The gentleman or superior man
‡ Possesses the Way (Tao) ‡ Doesn¶t preach what he practises till he has practised what he preaches ‡ Always act out of yi (righteousness) and never out of li (profitable) ‡ Is always happy; he accepts with equanimity what has to be (ming)

b. life
‡ ³He who has only vegetables for food and water to drink and a bent arm for a pillow will still find happiness.´ ‡ It is not worthwhile to discourse about death: ³Not yet understanding life, how can one understand death?´ Life is a gift that must be treasured. It is a part of tao to live life as it ought to be lived.

c. Ren (The Golden Rule)
‡ ³Do not do unto others what you would not like them to do unto you.´ Book XII, 2 ‡ ³Never do to others what you would not like them to do unto you.´ Book XV, 23

d. Rectification of names

the ruler be ruler, the minister, minister, the father, father, the son, son.´

e. Government
³Sufficient food, sufficient weapons, and the confidence of the common people´ make for good

f. mourning
³only when a child is three years old does it leave its parents¶ arms´

2. Meng tzu (371-289 B.C.)

Mencius Book of Mencius

a. Man is originally good
‡ Man becomes evil because of exposure and a relentless surrender to evil inclinations.

b. All-embracing love
‡ Love covers all. It is extended to all humanity. ‡ There is hierarchy of love.

c. The ³heart´
³It is with the heart that man thinks. There is no need for the law of morality if man uses his heart, for he would know what is good and evil.´

d. The Great Morale (Hao jan Chih Ch¶i)
³Everything must be put in its right place. However, there should be a hierarchy of objectives. And in the end, the global

3. Lao tzu

Old Master Tao Te Ting

‡ It is the tao that begins, proceeds, and ends - The Tao produced One; One produced Two; Two produced Three; Three produced All Things ‡ The tao does not do anything (wu-wei) but accomplishes everything ‡ Tao is not the product of anything but is the producer of everything.

‡ Tao is eternal, unchanging, nameless. ‡ Tao is all pervading ± it may be found on the left hand and on the right. ‡ Tao is humble, wise, inactive, yet it is the peak of excellence, power, and virtue.

The Tao may be similar to: Hegelian undertones: Pure Being equals Pure Nothing Plato¶s eternal ideas or the Divine Archetypes in the Mind of God: How do we know they exist? We don¶t. But if they do, their existence can only be posited, not logically argued.

Tao is a cornerstone of Chinese thought and without truly understanding what it means, one cannot truly appreciate Chinese philosophy. And as a final warning:
³He who knows the TAO does not speak about it; he who speaks about it does not

4. Chuang tzu

The Writings of Chuang Tzu

Philosophies: ‡ Happiness comes from conformity with Tao; sadness and frustration proceed from non-alliance with nature. ‡ To each one belongs a peculiar nature. What is natural to one may not be natural to another.

‡ On life and death:
When the Master came, it was at the proper time; when he went away, it was the simple sequence of his coming.

‡ On the Grand Beginning of all things:
There is not a single thing without the Tao. So it is with the Perfect Tao. And if we call it the Great Tao, it is just the same. There are three terms ± µcomplete¶, µall-embracing¶, the whole.

‡ On epistomology:(relativism of truth/personal truth)
Each one has a point of view, a contextual situation, and each one understands in his own personal manner.

5. Mo tzu

The Works of Mo Tzu

Philosophies: ‡ On universal love:
In the matter of loving people, one has to love everybody before he can be spoken of loving people. Failing to love all, one fails to love altogether.

‡ On the Will of Heaven:
³Heaven wants righteousness and dislikes unrighteousness.´

On Confucian Ming:
³Life¶s experiences do not give credence to the doctrine of fatalism.´

6. Yang Chu

Philosophies: ‡ On man¶s self preservation:
³No one should sacrifice a limb, not even for a kingdom´

‡ On life:
³Life is for beauty and abundance.´

III. The Chinese Classics

1. I Ching
³Tao is the way, and the way is necessary change made possible by the yang and yin which are the primeval pair.´ ³Change is made possible by the interaction of the Yang and Yin´

2. Han Fei Tzu
‡ ³Power has to be invested in a single ruler in order to concentrate the state¶s control.´ ‡ ³The citizens were to be given duties to perform, failure of which could subject them to disciplinary measures.´

3. Hsun Tzu
‡ Believes that human nature is evil and goodness arises only out of artificial training ± education is the salvation of men ‡ Believed that if Tao were followed, then Heaven would necessarily follow.

4. The Great Learning
‡ Believes that the perfection of knowledge implies knowing the root of the problem ‡ Believes that ³The µcultivation of the person depends on the rectification of the mind´

5.The Mean (Chung Yung)
‡ ³When Chung and Yung are respected, there would be balance in the universe.´ ‡ ³Human virtue does not only exist in the ethical but also in the cosmic sphere. Sincerity is an active force that welds the theoretical and the practical.´

Reference: The Merging Philosophy of East and West by Emerita S. Quito Reporter: Maria Cris S. Zorilla ± Dela Rosa MA-ELT

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