Monday, October 10, 2022Plenary
Tradition and Change in Early Confucianism
This class introduces Kongzi (Master Kong, or Confucius) and Mengzi (Master Meng or Mencius), two of the greatest Confucian philosophers. We will seek to understand Kongzi’s emphasis on following historical tradition and on filial piety; and then turn to Mengzi, who is famous both for advocating political reform aimed at the people’s well-being and for his argument that our individual natures have a built-in tendency toward goodness. This balance between continuity and change ends up being central to the Confucian conception of a good life.
- Understand the historical context for early Confucianism, know who Kongzi and Mengzi are, and understand the nature of the Analects and Mengzi texts
- Grasp the differences between revering tradition and an inflexible traditionalism
- Probe the ways in which morality or virtue can serve as a basis for politics
- Begin to explore the basic human reactions that shape Mengzi’s understanding of human psychology
- If you have no background knowledge of early China, watch the first 11:47 of the above video
- Try sketching out the argument in Mengzi 1A1. What is the main conclusion? What premises lead to this conclusion? You do not need to turn this in prior to class.