Compare the Lives and Teachings of Confucius and Socrates Term Paper

  • Length: 4 pages
  • Subject: Black Studies - Philosophy
  • Type: Term Paper
  • Paper: #83374646

Excerpt from Term Paper :

Socrates and Confucius

Socrates died 2,400 years ago. To be more specific, he was put to death, a criminal destined on a capital allegation. How gravely Athens took her philosophers! It plugs the contemporary intellectual by way of resentment more than fear that one may well die for such a reason (1).

Of Confucius, it was, on one occasion, asked: "Is he the one who knows that what he does is in vain yet keeps on trying to do so?" One really does not know if Confucius ever felt a sense of despair in the self-styled job of trying to put right the nature of other men; but in view of the fact that he was a dedicated teacher, had he been there to respond; he would have said: "Yes, I am the one who is true to himself (3)."

However, the official allegation that cost Socrates his life -- "Socrates is guilty of not believing in the gods the city believes in, and of introducing other strange divinities; and he is guilty of corrupting the young" -- has placed philosophers to presenting apologia forever since, as if in shielding Socrates as of this allegation philosophy can describe and appreciate itself (1).

Confucius, in his mid-fifties and thereon till a few years prior to his death (in 479 B.C.E. At the age of seventy-three) Confucius strolled about the Chinese kingdom, looking for and teaching those of all lessons who were enthusiastic to learn. Confucius said: "To learn and frequently practice what one has learned -- is this not a pleasure?" As for himself, he said: "To be able to acquire new knowledge while reviewing the old, qualifies one as an instructor of men. Knowing through silent reflection, learning without satiety, and teaching others without becoming weary -- these are the merits I claim (3)."

Socrates was a man of neither wealth nor individual beauty, the butt of the comedians of the day for his fit to bust eyes and overconfident walk. His style intelligence ran in the direction of old clothes and bare feet. Even his followers contrasted him to a satyr, an eerie combination of monster, man, and god. However, this man, as well-known then for cruelty as foremost ladies are at the present for beauty, has been the Helen of philosophy (1).

However, Confucius was constant in his reason by an authentic sense of "human-heartedness." In Confucian formation, this is the principle of jen -- its Chinese written nature a compound of man and two, evocative of one man carrying another, a representation on behalf of humanity. When asked in relation to the nature of jen, Confucius said: "There is one central idea that runs through all my teachings -- love men (3)."

With reference to Socrates, the majority of the major philosophical schools all through the initial six centuries subsequent to his death traced their genesis to Socrates, as well as energetically border lined additional claimants to the Socratic heritage. Stoics, Skeptics, and Cynics all pompously maintained him as their creator and looked to him as their excellent sage (1).

On the other hand, humanism is the alliance that runs all the way through all his teachings. It is the pleasant-sounding reference as of which all regularity in his system of moral precepts is sensibly attained. All the way through his teachings, Confucius is evidently saying, as he did specially on one occasion: "Without jen (benevolence) a man can not long endure adversity, nor can he long endure prosperity. A man of jen rests in jen, a man of wisdom finds it beneficial (3)."

The illumination established in him a hero and sufferer of independent cause, at the same time as Romanticism sensed the burn of his old blaze when it revived sarcasm as a fortunate vehicle of philosophy. Even at present, these are the two interpretive camps by means of which the still arguing heirs associate. It is not the most horrible way to measure whether philosophers are "analytic" or "continental" to ask them what they find most eye-catching in Socrates (1).

However, the Confirmations of Humanism, drawn up by the committee for Democratic and Secular Humanism, affirm "We affirm humanism... As a source of rich personal significance and genuine satisfaction in the service of others." Similarly, Confucius said: "A man of jen (charity) is one who in seeking to establish himself finds a foothold for others, and who desiring attainment for himself helps others to attain. To be able to draw a parallel in dealing with others is indeed the way to achieve jen (human-heartedness) (4)."

Socrates maintained to have a heavenly something that gave him unerring advice, a kind of voice that came to him off and on, more often than not to deter him from a number of ways of achievement. Habitually enough, it in addition gave a caution relating to one of his acquaintances. The ancient Greeks were used to the thought that the gods give symbols of the fortunate configuration of the space, but they were not used to an assertion like this, as well as when he referred to it at his test, it aggravated chaos (2).

On the other hand, the Confirmations of Humanism affirms, "We believe in common moral decencies: altruism, integrity, honesty, truthfulness, responsibility...." All of these qualities are personified essentially in six major Confucian conceptions extremely intimately connected to jen: shu (altruism), li (propriety), chung (faithfulness), hsin (sincerity), yi (correct conduct), and chih (wisdom) -- none of which is dominant, but to a certain extent all conjoined in a tied sense to jen (love for one's fellow man). These qualities stand and provide in association to jen in much the similar way that technical methods situate and serve as science itself. In fine, all the qualities are however the enduring every day practice of jen -- and that is why it is so complicated to describe the exact sense of jen, unless jen be called "perfect virtue (4)."

In relation to Socrates, reading the delightful rationale in the entrails of a forfeited beast or in the flights of birds of prey, or sifting the dim words that came as of Delphi's smoky chair: this was the burden of indirection and darkness the Greeks anticipated as of their heavenly communications. As Heraclitus said, Zeus neither speaks nor is silent; he simply gives a sign (2).

However, the Affirmation of Humanism states: "We believe in the cultivation of moral excellence." Most definitely Confucius saw the inevitability of moral growth. His philosophical approach is simply humanistic, highlighting ethical principles of fineness in the cultivation of one's individual life. He imagined a social order based on the power of moral standards. Confucius considered man as intrinsically a social creature who is bound by relationship to his fellow men and intended in human heritage to live his life in the family and culture of men. Confucius said: "It is impossible to herd with birds and beasts. If I do not live with my fellow men, with whom should I live (4)?"

Interpreters earliest and contemporary have tried to create something less eerie of this visionary gift of Socrates. The modern leaning is to perceive it as a class of epistemological hitch, breaking off the otherwise smooth phrase of Socratic rationalism. This makes of the heavenly influence a delightful individual foible, like that of a physicist who reads the horoscope. The more attractive efforts to make Socrates' uncanniness well mannered do not follow this path of trivializing his prophetic side. They try rather to accept it, so that the heavenly voice turns out to be a feature of Socrates' psychological faculties rather than a theophany (2).

However, Confucius was disposed to see the superior part of man's character, but as a realistic substance he understood the necessitate for open moral commands. Confucius…

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