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Speaking about the order of the universe we can shift the speech towards human nature and essence. In performing actions which support harmony, man is doing nothing more but manifesting his nature and realizing his essence. The tool that the individual uses in order to be able to manifest essence is reason. Therefore, the link between the universe and the beings is represented by the mind. When everything is in the right lace we have perfect order. therefore it is safe to state that perfect order, in the cosmos and in the human world, leads to harmony.
In an attempt to define harmony furthermore, we may quote another famous passage which stares that, since order is the natural way of being of the world, all the things which exist will develop naturally and without harming each other notwithstanding the differences which exist between them. In addition, all the principles which are at the base of this development will exist in the absence of a relation of contradiction.
It is extremely interesting to notice the fact that according to the Confucian doctrine the realization and the manifestation of the human essences take place in the absence of conflicting and contrasting relationships. How is this possible?
A possible explanation may assert that people do not really manage to fully realize their potential. From this point-of-view life is nothing but a continuous attempt t realize one's essence. The realization is never maximum although a constant development is acceptable. The ideal world ought to be the one in which the essences are fully realized and manifested in everything. One can easily understand why this remains an ideal world only. The real world is full of tensions and conflicts and it seems that these conflicts are stimulating development.
Taking these aspects into consideration we can ask ourselves what is Confucius really trying to say? The concept of harmony, is it suppose to remain an ideal and idealistic general principle or is its realization really possible? Perhaps the concept ought to be interpreted in a different manner. Perhaps the perfect harmony is the perfect harmony of the mind.
We could support this argument with examples from the Confucian texts. The interface between the world and the being is represented by the mind. The principle of harmony exists, but in a world which is dominated by conflict. However, man is supposed to be capable of regulating the world through the use of reason. But regulating the world is not the only thing.
The more important aspect seems to be regulating the self. And it makes perfect sense. Regulating the internal conflict through the use of reason leads to a realization of the personal essence. In this manner we assist to the manifestation of substance and to the existence of perfect order, that is, harmony, in the perfectly balanced and peaceful human mind.
It is safe to assert that we are at one of the deepest levels of the metaphysics of Confucius and his disciples. It is at this point that harmony can be interpreted as a process of transformation.
Trying to find a common principle that would help put all the human beings into the same category, the Confucian thinkers have reached the conclusion that the right is the very thing that all the minds have in common. The right is a fundamental part of the human essence. This part helps human beings distinguish themselves from other existing species. In other words, man's nature is a moral one. People are born with strong morality principles. These principles are innate and represent a manifestation of nature ( and here we have the process of transformation: the right is the realization of the order of the universe, just as it is a proof that this latter one exists). From this point-of-view we could note a similarity with Socrates' conception regarding man ( who is good by nature and who is happy only when realizing his true nature, that of doing good and doing what he is supposed to be there where duty and justice become synonyms).
All in all it can be stated that the Confucian doctrine has two important concepts at its core. These concepts are represented by harmony and conflict. The connection between them is more than strong. The definition of one seems to involve the other, although it is easier to define conflict than harmony. One might be tempted to defined harmony as the absence of conflict but taking into consideration the overwhelming proofs that conflict exist, the attention is shifted towards the manner in which one should act in order to solve the conflict.
The importance given to the concepts of conflict and harmony in the Confucian philosophy are easily understandable if we take into consideration the historical reality of China. The existing conflicts had a deep impact on the population, therefore it was only normal for one to be looking for peace, harmony and whatever it is that supports them.
It is the social context as well which offers a good motivation for the fact that Confucius focused mainly on the functioning of society as a system, on the rules of behaviour, on the rites and rituals which help us manage day-to-day life. The depth of the perspective reaches its maximum when interpreting harmony as a process of transformation.
Lao, Wei. On Harmony: The Confucian view. Retrieved October 31, 2009 from http://sunzi1.lib.hku.hk/hkjo/view/35/3500149.pdf[continue]
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