On the Analects, compiled after Confucius’s (aka Master Kong’s) death in 479 BCE.
How should we act? What’s the relation between ethics and politics? Can a bunch of aphorisms written in the distant past for an unapologetically hierarchical culture emphasizing traditional rituals actually give us relevant, welcome advice on these matters? Are we even in a position to determine the meaning of these sayings?
Mark, Seth, and Wes are joined by Tzuchien Tho, who studies Leibniz but grew up in a household where Confucian texts were revered, to do the best we can in figuring out Confucius’s fundamental ethical concepts, trying to make notions like “ritual propriety” and “filial piety” relevant given today’s mores, and what to do with all your wisdom given a corrupt political climate.
This episode should be understandable to anyone, but we do refer a bit given Confucius’s emphasis on tradition to our recent episode on Burke, and compare Confucius to Socrates. You may recall we’ve ventured once previously into Chinese philosophy with Taoist Chuang Tzu.
We used the Ames/Rosemont The Analects of Confucius: A Philosophical Translation. Here’s an “online teaching translation” by Robert Eno. Another commonly used translation is by D.C. Lau.
Some of us watched Robert André LaFleur’s lecture series “Books That Matter: The Analects of Confucius,” part of which is available on YouTube. The Confucius entry in the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy is also helpful.
Confucius picture by Solomon Grundy.