confucius theory of education
4. Theory of Learning: What is learning? How are skills and knowledge acquired?
7. Theory of Opportunity: Who is to be educated? Who is to be schooled?
2. L.Y. refers to Lun Yu, a compilation of Confucius’ sayings and aphorisms by his disciples of the succeeding generation, which is also, called ‘Analects’ by Westerners. It is generally accepted as the most direct and reliable source on Confucius and his doctrines. For the purpose of identification, both chapters and section numbers are included. The division of section is based on The Analects of Confucius (1992) (Bao, S., Translated into modern Chinese, and Lao, A., Translated into English). I have read both original Chinese and modern Chinese versions to compare with various English translations. I have also translated many quotes myself where I see the English translations do not express well the deeper meaning of Chinese.
1. The life of Confucius in the Shi Ji, (the historical records), by Sima Qian, is considered the most reliable source. The biography, as contained in Shi Ji, is the first biography even written on Confucius. For centuries, Sima Qian’s biography has been held as authoritative and his treatment of Confucius considered definitive though there has debate among later scholars. Because Sima Qian’s biography of Confucius was at best a chronology of events attributed to Confucius, it will be used in so far as its content is in agreement with those mentioned in the Analects. Books on Confucius’ life resting upon this source are also consulted. See Lin, Y. ( 1994 Lin, Y. , ed. 1994 . The Wisdom of Confucius, New York : The Modern Library . (Ed., and translated with notes) [Google Scholar] ), The Wisdom of Confucius. New York: The Modern Library. Creel, H. G. ( 1949 Creel, H. G. 1949 . Confucius: The man and the myth, Norwalk, CT : Easton Press . [Google Scholar] ) Confucius: The Man and the Myth (Norwalk, CT: Easton Press). Widgery, A. G. ( 1961 Widgery, A. G. 1961 . Interpretations of History: Confucius to Toynbee, London : George Allen & Unwin . [Google Scholar] ). Interpretations of History: Confucius to Toynbee (London: George Allen and Unwin). Wu‐Chi Liu, ( 1955 Liu, W.‐C. 1955 . A Short History of Confucian Philosophy, Westport, CT : Hyperion Press . [Google Scholar] ) A Short History of Confucian Philosophy (Westport, CT: Hyperion Press). Also see Jiang, L. (2002) The Value and Tradition of Confucianism in Relation to Modernization (Shang Dong: Qi Lu Publisher). Lou, C. L. (2002) On the Study of Confucianism (Shang Dong: Qi Lu Publisher). Miao, R. and Yang, Z. (eds.) (2004) Confucianism and Modernization (Shang Dong: Qi Lu Publisher).
ISSN 2309-1606. Філософія освіти. 2014. № 2 (15)
Aristotle and Confucius elaborate their theories on the basis of a complex apprehen-sion of the ethical and political problem as one. The Greek and the Chinese philosopher focus on the importance of virtue , which signifies a passage from an initial understanding of communal life to a life with others that becomes self-fulfilling and facilitates self improvement and excellence . The individual goal is the same as the collective goal; this becomes the foundation of their educational schemes. By their doctrines on the Mean , the two thinkers focus on the acquisition of wisdom and knowledge , not as mere theoretical equip-ment but as guidance for practical purposes. Virtue is the capacity to preserve oneself in a perfect condition, one that will lead to a eudaimonistic and har-monious life. The Mean is the proper way that will create the right habit and will secure the right evolution of the human being towards its ideal condition. Thus the Mean becomes a golden rule for education , as education is an ongo-ing process until righteousness and phronesis become indispensable aspects in one’s personality.
The outer and inner aspects of Confucianism—its conforming and reforming sides—were in tension throughout Chinese history. Moreover, the tensions between social and political realities and the high-minded moral ideals of the Confucians were an ongoing source of concern for the leaders of this tradition. The dangers of moral sterility and hypocrisy were always present. Confucianism, they knew well, served both as a conservative state orthodoxy and a stimulus for reform. Great Confucians, like religious leaders everywhere, sought periodically to revive and renew the moral, intellectual, and spiritual vigor of the tradition. Until the 1890s, serious-minded Chinese saw Confucianism, despite its failures to realize its ideal society, as the source of hope for China and the core of what it meant to be Chinese.
Thus one side of Confucianism was the affirmation of accepted values and norms of behavior in primary social institutions and basic human relationships. All human relationships involved a set of defined roles and mutual obligations; each participant should understand and conformto his/her proper role. Starting from individual and family, people acting rightly could reform and perfect the society. The blueprint of this process was described in “The Great Learning,” a section of the Classic of Rituals:
- In Weisheng Mou asked Confucius, “Why do you seemingly dart from perch to perch? Is it that you wish to become a glib rhetorician?”
Confucius replied, “It is not that I aspire to great rhetorical skills. It is just that I despise stubborn inflexibility.”
This is a transcript from the video series Books That Matter: The Analects of Confucius. Watch it now, on The Great Courses Plus.