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Custom «Family in the East Asian Thought» Essay Paper

Custom «Family in the East Asian Thought» Essay Paper

Throughout the history, the family has always been considered one of the eternal human values in East Asia. Some of the ancient family traditions have been preserved up to this day. However, it should be noted that the significance of the family has been raised to an entirely new level in China, in the times of Confucius. The spiritual core of his teaching, the Confucianism, is based on the eternal human values (Yao, 2000). Of course, all more or less significant spiritual teachings have always been associated with these values in one way or another. However, a pledge of eternity on the Confucianism was its ability to express these values in the most accessible, common, and unquestionable manner. In the light of the eternal values, it is possible to point out the imperceptible things such as the habitat or collective form of the human existence. For an ancient observer, it used to be presented in the form of a relatively small-scale state. The public life of such a state could acquire either a common form, following the way of Tao as postulated by the Confucians, or other disrupt conventional forms. These violations could be so severe that they began to threaten the very foundations of the social life. In general, all the people were considered responsible for the presence or absence of Tao, but not on the equal terms. In this matter, a special responsibility was attributed to those who personified all the society and were invested with the supreme political power. The meaning of the allegations to him was limited to ensuring that ,within his power, he had to behave in the same way, as the head of the family acts at his home (Yao, 2000). Therefore, it is possible to say that, at the time, the family was considered a model for building a prosperous state. Therefore, the following paper  is dedicated to the definition of the role and significance of the family in the East Asian thought, namely in the Confucianism.

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Once tuned to the Confucian way of thinking, one will immediately notice that, out of the two natural communities of the family and the state, the family is much more stable. As result, Confucius and his followers positioned the family model as the main support of the human community. In the established traditions of the ancient Chinese society, not all family relationships were considered equal. The primacy was given to Xiao (filial piety), which was not only defined by a family but also based on the religious foundation and the worship of the ancestors. Such textural relationships between a father and son meant more than a simple emotional link between them. They were rather the religious relations determined by the word Xi (service) (“The Virtue of Familial Responsibility,” 2014). In such a manner, in the Chinese society, the family life was directly incorporated into the religious cult and ritual system of relationships.

Therefore, according to Confucius, the family (a natural community of people) was at a higher level of ethical development than the rest of the social environment. It was considered the center of the high ethical well-being, having a beneficial effect on its surroundings.

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Confucius believed that the family, consecrated by the cult of ancestors, gave every reason to consider it a sufficient ethical school required for the complete transformation of a human being into a noble person. It should be noted that Confucius developed his plans of transforming the human being, having in mind not just the person from the street, but those who had successfully mastered the system of the ethical relations. The philosopher Yu-Tzu, one of the disciples of Confucius, claimed that there were few people, who, being respectful to their parents and elder relatives, would be inclined to oppose their superiors (Yao, 2000).

By analyzing the political reality of the contemporary world, Confucius concluded that depriving the political life of the empire-wide administrative and ideological control could lead to practicality, cynicism, and violence as the primary means of the public administration. On the contrary, the philosopher dreamed of the state, in which the politics would be based on the same ethical pprinciples as in the family, so the people could not abuse their power due to the assimilated high ethical principles. Therefore, the filial piety (Xiao) was one of the key elements included by Confucius in the set of the management tools, being regarded as a political tool of direct and important effect. In particular, he claimed that, in order to make people respectful, faithful, and diligent, the ruler must follow the norms of Xiao (“The Virtue of Familial Responsibility,” 2014).

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In addition to direct effects on the people, the deference of the highest level, provided by Xiao, was useful in establishing the stable political traditions. As a result, the state policy would not be shaken due to the forced regime change, being the antithesis to the European saying, “The king is dead, long live the king.” Moreover, Confucius and his followers, focusing on the ritual nature of the family relations, emphasized a situation, in which the successor had to withstand a three-year mourning period. It is important from the political point of view. According to Confucius, in mourning, a person does not feel the sweetness when tasting food, does not experience joy when listening to the music, and does not know the rest when staying in the house (Yao, 2000). This strange and rather inconvenient from the political point of view tradition takes its roots in the old Chinese family rule. According to it, it took three years after the birth of the child before it could be weaned from the mother and father. That is why the three-year mourning period, as a tribute to the parents, was a universal rule in China. The pairing of humanity with mourning for parents is one of the most characteristic features of the Chinese spiritual culture (Rosemont and Ames, 2009). Moreover, it has a fundamentally different root than the one, from which the European humanism has grown. However, it should be noted that, in the Eastern sense, mourning is not connected with the particular funeral formalities, but rather the state of mind. Therefore, such a ritual ensured the further development not only of a filial piety but also of the humanity in the people.

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