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Confucianism and Daoism. Learning from the young rice plants. Final exam. UGC 111LR-K December 13, 2013, Friday (NB: corrected) 8:00 AM – 11:00 AM Knox 104. Exam preparation. 1) Lecture Notes: all overheads for semester

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confucianism and daoism

Confucianism and Daoism

Learning from the young rice plants

final exam
Final exam
  • UGC 111LR-K
  • December 13, 2013, Friday (NB: corrected)
  • 8:00 AM – 11:00 AM
  • Knox 104
exam preparation
Exam preparation
  • 1) Lecture Notes: all overheads for semester
  • 2) My History Lab test exams: pre-tests, post-tests, and chapter exams
  • 3) Final Exam Essay Outline
    • Go through all civilizations
  • 4) Bring enough paper for essay, #2 pencils, and erasers
  • 5) One “cheat sheet” allowed: one side 8 ½ by 11 inch, 6 pt. font minimum
contemporary problems of li
Contemporary problems of Li
  • “Dear Miss Manners:
  • If a woman offers you her hand in greeting, should you shake it only or should you grasp it, squeeze it gently, and at the same time pull her toward you and peck her on the cheek?
  • “It would appear to me most appropriate to kiss a woman on the cheek, but if she offers you her lips instead, what should you do – kiss her on the lips or go round to a cheek?
kissing continued
Kissing, continued
  • “Once you have kissed a woman as a greeting, are you expected to continue with the practice in all future greetings involving that person? If you don’t is that person likely to be offended?” (79)
miss manners replies
Miss Manners Replies
  • Gentle Reader:
  • A gentleman must, in these circumstances, take what he is offered. If it is a hand, shake it. If it is a cheek, kiss it. If it is a pair of lips, kiss it. If it keeps reappearing, it must be rekissed.
  • Remember that we are talking about a formal, public gesture, and the fact that parts of the body and ways they are used may duplicate private expressions of emotion is irrelevant.
  • Just because gentlemen no longer have the exclusive right to initiate private kissing does not mean that they may now share in the ladies’ privilege of initiating—or withholding —public kissing.
contradiction in confucius
Contradiction in Confucius?
  • (1) Overflow with love for all humanity
  • (2) Should you treat injury with kindness?
  • “What do you say concerning the principle that injury should be recompensed with kindness?” The Master said, “With what then will you recompense kindness? Recompense injury with justice, and recompense kindness with kindness.”
  • Compare Jesus: “Turn the other cheek.”
solution to contradiction
Solution to contradiction
  • Inner respect: jen:
    • Therefore love everyone.
  • External behavior: li
    • But do not behave the same way to everyone.
  • Apply to misbehaving child
    • Love the child
    • But “punish” the behavior
  • Lesson: all actions have consequences
mencius 372 289 bce on how to unite the empire
Mencius (372 – 289 BCE) on how to unite the Empire
  • Mencius saw King Hsiang of Liang. Coming away, he said to someone, ‘When I saw him at a distance he did not look like a ruler of men and when I went close to him I did not see anything that commanded respect. Abruptly he asked me, ‘Through what can the Empire be settled?’

‘ “Through unity,” I said.

  • ‘ “Who can unite it?”
  • ‘ “One who is not fond of killing can unite it,” I said.
  • ‘ “Who can give it [the Empire] to him?”

‘ “No one in the Empire will refuse to give it to him. Does your Majesty not know about young rice plants? Should there be a drought in the seventh or eighth month, these plants will wilt. If clouds begin to gather in the sky and rain comes pouring down, then the plants will spring up again. This being the case, who can stop it?


Now in the Empire amongst the shepherds of men there is not one who is not fond of killing. If there is one who is not, then the people of the Empire will crane their necks to watch for his coming. This being truly the case, the people will turn to him like water flowing downwards with a tremendous force. Who can stop it?” (Mencius, Book I; Part A, 6.)

to understand china look to the rice plants
To understand China: Look to the Rice Plants
  • Main rule for ruling well: do not kill
    • Recall Confucius on how Shun rules w/o acting
  • This attracts people to you
  • Reliance on force = legalism: repels others and creates opposition
    • What you resist, persists
    • If you push on something, it pushes back at you. (Isaac Newton’s third law of physics.)
  • =>Rule by magnetic attraction, not by force overcoming resistance.
how the many things are created
How the many things are created
  • Tao begets One
  • One begets Two
  • Two begets Three
  • Three begets all things
  • All things carry the female and embrace the male
  • And by breathing together, they live in harmony
what is the way
What is the Way?
  • It can’t be named –
    • because names refer to “things.”
    • And one thing is named in relation to other things. “Up” is named in relation to “down”
  • It is in the one before the two
    • Unity of yin and yang, female and male, non-being and being, easy and hard, low and high, borrower and lender . . .
no thingness
  • It is not a thing
    • The spokes of the wheel require empty space between them to work
    • The hollowness of the vase makes it a vase
    • Empty space allows things to exist
    • Silence allows sound to be
  • The no-thingness of the Dao is the inner Source of all things
the sage
The Sage

Aware of the no-thingness of the Dao:

  • While the common people are so bright,
  • I alone am so dull!
  • While the common people know how to differentiate,
  • I alone cannot see the difference.
  • All the people have their purpose,
  • But I alone am stubborn and despicable. . .
  • And value getting nourishment from the Mother.
value the feminine side of things
Value the feminine side of things
  • Recall Antigone: Mother Earth, the eldest of the gods versis “man” with his plow and horse
  • The Daoist Sage returns to the Mother Source of all things.
  • Rejects primacy of masculine learning/ labeling, calculation, arrogance, aggression, competition.
  • =>Return to early kinship egalitarianism
    • Before Class hierarchy, the State and male domination
how the good ruler rules like a woman
How the good ruler rules – like a woman
  • I do not act and the people reform themselves
  • I love serenity and the people rectify themselves . . .
  • A large state is like the low land;
  • It is the focus point of the world
  • And the female of the world.

The female always conquers the male by serenity.

  • In serenity, she puts herself low.
  • Therefore, the large state puts itself beneath the small state,
  • And thereby absorbs the small state.
  • (Contrast method of Qin emperor.)
philosophy of no mind
Philosophy of No-Mind
  • Knowledge involves intellectual distinctions, labels, separations.
  • But truth, the Way, cannot be grasped by such knowledge.
  • The Tao of no-thingness cannot be grasped by “the mind.”
awareness not knowledge
Awareness, not knowledge
  • Be aware of the space between things, which allows the things to be
  • Be aware of the silence between the sounds, that allows the sounds to be
  • Still your mind by being in the present moment
philosophy of love
Philosophy of Love
  • The Sage does not store things for himself
  • The more one does for others
  • The more he has for himself
  • The more one gives to others,
  • The more he keeps for himself.
confucian mencius has daoist ideas
Confucian Mencius has Daoist Ideas
  • Confucius:
    • Learning, propriety (li) is needed,
    • but it should be linked to jen – to inner feeling of love, first learned in family relationships
  • Mencius:
    • For good rule, imitate the rice plants
    • For good rule: don’t kill the peasants
    • Government is needed, but it should not rule by force, but by peaceful example and by serving
      • Putting itself low, like a woman
    • Morality is a natural response of the human heart.
      • Who would let a crawling infant fall into a well?
land problem of china
Land problem of China
  • Only 12% of land in China is arable
  • Problem: how best use the land (nature)
  • Solution: rice has higher yield in calories per acre than wheat and other grains
labor problem
Labor problem
  • Rice is more labor intensive.
    • Surplus per laborer is much less than in wheat production.
  • =>more laborers per acre in China
  • =>high population density of China
management problem small margin of survival
Management problem: Small margin of survival
  • Labor intensive farming: large family on small plot
  • Small surplus per individual
  • But large numbers of individuals
  • > Rich state, but
  • > Small margin of survival for individuals
competition for surplus
Competition for surplus
  • Division of pie
    • State, Emperor’s family
    • Large feudal landlords
    • Bureaucracy
need an ethical bureaucracy
Need an ethical bureaucracy
  • Bureaucracy cannot be greedy for itself
  • Bureaucracy must defend peasant against greedy state, landlord
  • Confucius: primacy of family unit for health of state
  • Need balanced government: the Mean
    • 1) Government depends on peasant surpluses
    • 2) too much pressure on the peasants destroys the balance
solution to management problem
Solution to management problem
  • Mencius on taxation: no more than 1/9
  • If State/bureaucracy and aristocratic landowners are too greedy
    • > famine and revolution
  • Hence, need for ethically trained bureaucracy:
    • Confucian bureaucracy,
    • Not faceless bureaucracy of centralized states of the Middle East and West (e.g., Rome)
  • Reason for failure of Qin Emperor?
east v west rice v wheat
East v. WestRice v. Wheat
  • 1) Irrigation v. rain-watered
    • Centralized state serves v. dominates
  • 2) Labor intensive v. technology intensive
    • Transfer young plants by hand v plow and animal power
  • 3) Low surplus per laborer v high surplus
  • 4) High yield per acre in calories v low yield
  • 5) Respect for nature v. pride in human labor
dark side of iron
Dark side of iron
  • Why did China outlast Rome?
  • Iron > Slavery as well as freedom
    • History of Rome: from free citizen to slave state
    • Slavery destroys Roman peasantry
  • Slavery presupposes high labor productivity
    • Slaves are not naturally careful
    • Slaves require external supervision
implications of rice re slavery
Implications of rice re Slavery
  • Labor intensive rice cultivation: Low productivity per worker
  • Special care needed to manage irrigation
  • > No slave agriculture for rice production
  • > Selfless Confucian bureaucracy (ideally)
  • > Long duration of Chinese society
daoism and rice production
Daoism and Rice Production
  • Peasant is close to land, to nature
  • Works with hands, feet in mud
  • Daoism:
    • let nature take its course without human interference (i.e., without interfering high technology)
rivals or complementary
Rivals or Complementary?
  • Revolutionary rivalry
    • Daoist revolutionaries fight corrupt Confucians
    • Important differences in doctrine
    • Confucian focus on society v. Daoist focus on nature
  • But Confucianism is a philosophy of neo-kinship, and so also emphasizes the natural in society
dual sources of two philosophies
Dual sources of two philosophies
  • 1) China must respect limitations of nature (12% arable land)
  • 2) But China is also dependent on a complex, state-organized artificial irrigation system
  • > two indigenous Chinese philosophies
    • Daoism reflects closeness to nature
    • Confucianism reflects state-based social organization
unity of two philosophies
Unity of two philosophies
  • But both reflect closer-to-nature, neo-kinship society
  • Chinese Syncretism:
    • A “gentleman” can be a Confucian in his public life,
    • and a Daoist in private life.