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The Book of Songs, Confucius and Analects

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Question 1: Like Socrates and Jesus, Confucius was a teacher with disciples who had some trouble understanding the import of his words. Why did these masters simply not say what they meant?

            Confucius as well as other great teachers chose not to spoon-feed their disciples with their teachings. Instead, it is more of a self-discovery for their followers. They guide them in making the right decisions in their lives, and not by telling them what to do and which way to go. Confucius focused his attention on making these people better not only for a day or two, but during their lifetimes, that’s why he chose to help them choose the right and moral course of action regardless of its consequences.

Question 2: Confucianism became a state creed that Confucius might not have acknowledged. Examine and list some of the sayings in Analects that could be used to support hierarchical rule. Were they intended to serve that purpose?

  • “They are few who, being filial and fraternal, are fond of offending against their superiors. There have been none, who, not liking to offend against their superiors, have been fond of stirring up confusion.”

·         “The superior man bends his attention to what is radical. That being established, all practical courses naturally grow up. Filial piety and fraternal submission,-are they not the root of all benevolent actions?”

These sayings are all supporting the hierarchical rule. Confucius regards filial piety or respect to elders as a major trait which is needed in a society. It is similar to the proper respect that should be given to superiors/leaders of the society during those times.

Question 4: Why did Confucius see the Book of Songs as so important to Chinese learning?

               Confucius regards the Book of Songs as an essential part of Chinese learning because it is the compilation, a written proof of the Chinese culture which every Chinese should learn. These are not merely stories or odes that tell about things of their everyday life, but also embedded in this Book of Songs are the life’s lessons which every Chinese should learn and keep in their hearts and minds. If they are able to learn the contents of the Book of Songs, then they’ll be able to teach it and impart learning on other people too.

Question 5: Why is the Book of Songs considered democratic? Give at least two examples that illustrate this democratic outlook.

               The Book of Songs is considered democratic because it does not only tell about the outlook of one author only, but of hundreds more. It includes works from common people, which are usually rich in content, fresh in style and varied in form. There are also those who were written by nobles, which seem a bit inferior because they lack flavor and are less lively than those written by common people. One example is “Chasing the Phantom” by Qinfeng which tells about failing to reach the person one is in love with. Another story is “We Pluck the Bracken,” which was written by a soldier returning back from the frontier.

Question 6: Using of examples from the poems, show how poetry represents Chinese culture at that time.

            In the poem “Guan! Guan! Cry the Fish Hawks,” we see how courtship was done during those times (Zhounan). They use music to charm those who they like, using it to attract their attention. A line from the poem follows:

A ragged fringe is the floating-heart,
left and right we pick it:
the mild-mannered good girl,
harp and lute make friends with her

            In the poem “Halloa,” we can see what means of living are available for the people during those times. It is a poem about farming, wherein people are employed by the King Cheng to toil the land and sow the grains (Song). A line from the poem follows:

Halloa! King ChengHas called you here.Prime your farm menTo sow the grains.

Works Cited:

Song, Zhou. “Halloa!”  1999.  Chinavista.com. April 1 2008. <http://www.chinavista.com/experience/shijing/halloa.html>.

Zhounan. “Guan! Guan! Cry the Fish Hawks”.  1999.  Chinavista.com. April 1 2008. <http://www.chinavista.com/experience/shijing/guanju.html>.

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