Sunday, 8 June 2008

Confucious, He Look Nice

BBC Radio 4 broadcast the first of the Reith Lectures this evening, 10 pm to 11 pm, discussing the background and something of a revivial of Confucianism in China. Jonathan Spence lectured at the British Library in London, on May 14th, 2008. This included establishing Cinfucious as a real historical figure and how his canon of works was first produced:

At various times and places, these student disciples - if we may call them that - recalled different conversations with Confucius, and either they or their own later students entered a mixture of his sayings into the fragmentary text, which is known as the Analects. These discussions on politics, morality, duty, deportment, ritual propriety and social and family responsibility are as close to Confucius's own words as we can come. Though he did not write them down himself, the words that comprise the Analects constitute a coherent view of the world as seen by especially acute eyes; and some two thousand four hundred years later, the Analects remain at the core of what we might call a Confucian canon.

In the audience the Archbishop of Canterbury asked about non-governmental organisations beginning for the welfare of people and such towards the development of a pluralist society, and how this relates to Confucianism. Jonathan Spence replied about the bravery and difficulty in setting up these organisations by individuals and to their families (in that an earlier answer mentioned using the law to redress wrongs that crosses the Party locally can indeed lead to prison), and also said in the economic sphere conditions for workers might be difficult but then may be better than for workers now than say in a Maoist steel works under communism. This of course is set against a Confucian setting for values and order in relationship with the State.

At thirty, he [Confucious] finds his balance through the rites that bring order and meaning to people's relations with each other and with their rulers rather than the rights - R.I.G.H.T.S - as we now view them..

In a later answer he said how a collection of national disasters can be taken as a sign against the state, such as the chaos at New Year when the Chinese Government was inept, then protests about Tibet, but a change in world opinion and indeed the Chinese State seeing as getting on with the job with openness over the earthquake (when previously it was worried and hushed up earthquake). The state may be seen increasingly as a servant of the people, but it remains nervous to criticism. Recently Channel 4 News has shown how China is abusing psychiatry as a way of silencing critics, for example those who want multi-party democracy on the spurious basis that such people must be mad.

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