Our thanks to fellow blogger, Chris Panza, for the heads up.
Rodney Taylor enlightens the Huff Post readership on what Confucianism really is HERE.
Just to get you interested, here’s something Taylor says in the piece:
By emphasizing the learning of the sages of antiquity, Confucius believed rulers ruled by the Mandate of Heaven. Confucius thus supported the theocratic nature of the Chinese state. More importantly, however, he supported the religious authority associated with T’ien as a principle of “purpose.” Because of T’ien, the universe had a purpose and that purpose was exercised on behalf of the state. For the Confucians, this “purpose” of Heaven was seen as a greater authority than the power of rulership itself. The ruler only ruled because of Heaven’s Mandate, and the Mandate could be taken away. To hold the Mandate, the criterion was the moral conduct of the ruler. In Confucian thought, much is made of the distinction between a ruler, wang, a true ruler of moral worth, and a tyrant, pa, one who exercises power only for his own personal aggrandizement.
I’m not sure I agree with this as a characterization of Confucius — assuming we can characterize Confucius specifically, as opposed to early Confucians or Confucianism more generally, based on the extant text. Taylor’s claims about Heaven’s Mandate (tian ming 天命) do seem accurate about Mencius. But Confucius? I’m not so sure: the only two references to tian ming in the Lunyu are these two:
2.4: 子曰：“吾十有五而志于學，三十而立，四十而不惑，五十而知天命，六十而耳順，七十而從心所欲，不踰矩。” Legge’s translation: The Master said, “At fifteen, I had my mind bent on learning. At thirty, I stood firm. At forty, I had no doubts. At fifty, I knew the decrees of Heaven. At sixty, my ear was an obedient organ for the reception of truth. At seventy, I could follow what my heart desired, without transgressing what was right.”
16.8: 孔子曰：“君子有三畏：畏天命，畏大人，畏聖人之言。小人不知天命而不畏也，狎大人，侮聖人之言。” Legge’s translation: Confucius said, “There are three things of which the superior man stands in awe. He stands in awe of the ordinances of Heaven. He stands in awe of great men. He stands in awe of the words of sages. The mean man does not know the ordinances of Heaven, and consequently does not stand in awe of them. He is disrespectful to great men. He makes sport of the words of sages.”
Though Confucius thought the command of Heaven was important, it’s not at all clear what that entailed. Was the idea that rulers “ruled by the Mandate of Heaven,” and that that constituted some kind of divine, supernatural, or moral stamp of approval on a regime, something that Confucius could have entertained? I’m inclined to think that, believing in the Zhou dynastic practices as he did, Confucius would not have felt the need for justification of the Zhou’s political legitimacy. But maybe it’s okay to extrapolate to the Mencian view and attribute that to Confucius. I’m interested to know what you think.