Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Analects - Confucius 3

有子 introduced the first key concept of Confucius' moral system - 孝弟. Next Confucius said

Here Confucius introduces the second key element of his moral system - 仁.

The character 仁 is made up of two parts: 人 and 二. 人 is human and 二 is two. So 仁 represents the highest moral concept of how two human should behave to each other. Another interpretation of the character is "man connecting heaven and earth" [source]. I prefer the first interpretation. The concept of 仁 dates back a long time, well before the Confucius' time. Before Confucius, it generally refers to kinship, kindness and love between people. In Analects, this concept is explored widely. This is the first entry.

Here Confucius points out two acts which are not considered as 仁. 巧言 is "clever/sweet words" - the act of flattering. 令色 is acting in ingratiating manners. In other words, Confucius considers using sweet words, acting to favour others not a good moral behaviour among people. The flip side is that we should be honest and practical towards each other.
Confucius said, "sweet words and ingratiating manners can hardly be 仁."

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