Thursday, September 19, 2019

Neo-Confucianism Essay -- Chinese Philosophy, Ming

Neo-Confucianism, with a goal of keeping unobscured the inborn luminous Virtue [true goodness] of all men throughout the empire[1] and thus establishing a social harmony, was a complex ethical political system governing the society in late Ming China. Adopting the philosophy as their ideological legitimacy, Choson kingdom and Tokugawa shogunate applied it in different settings due to their structure of government and cultural background. However, they both inherited the main elements of the philosophy: the notion of universal principle encouraging people to behave good, five virtues[2], self-cultivation and five hierarchical relationships of society[3]. By means of traditions, rituals, laws, publications, educational institutions and many more, the philosophy was imbibed in the lives of Choson court and Tokugawa samurai. Yet, as it was in Ming China, the governments of these two realms could not always â€Å"control the interests of its people†[4] and make them adhere to the i deology. Complex situations of life together with the fallibility of human nature making people unable to always lead intellectual, moral and aloof life[5] led to gaps between the philosophy and its experiences. The court of Choson kingdom, where the very state orthodoxy should be practiced in its highest level, was ironically also a haven for its conflicts. Extended royal family lived together in the court and exercised filial piety among each other: devotion between all family members including mourning for deceased ones and visits to the ancestral tombs. Lady Hyegyong, in her memoirs, noted many examples of genuine filial devotion in the royal family; that of King Yongjo himself preparing medicine for his ill stepmother, Queen Dowager Inwon[6], and the sa... ...eeping himself to learning and frugality as Mori Yoshiki did. In order to get what he wanted from others, he even could violate the principle of being true to oneself as he imitated committing hara-kiri. Yet, he then regretted the outcome of his easy life while pondering over in his old age and was also startled with the findings that throughout the history, there were many who acted like him and made mistakes. Human beings are mystery to themselves. Through law, through ideology, one can still be not governed. Neo-Confucianism, with its practical appeal, attracted the governments and was applied. Though, as it claims to be, the philosophy could not be practiced naturally as it should be. Some parts were accepted, some not. People were still free on their own. However, Neo-Confucianism could shape lives of people and contributed its share to human civilization.

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