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ConfucianismReview - Confucianism
A Very Short Introduction
by Daniel K. Gardner
Oxford University Press, 2014
Review by Christian Perring
Jan 20th 2015 (Volume 19, Issue 4)

We turn to books in the Very Short Introduction series when we are looking for the basics about a subject. Probably we will also do a web search at the same time, maybe starting with the Wikipedia entry. How useful these VSI books are will depend on what detail of information we are looking for.  It provides about 136 pages, setting out the historical information about Confucius and his followers, and their views. There are six chapters and an epilogue, spelling out the role of an individual and their relation to society, and the Confucian view of government. Gardner explains the ways in which Confucius emphasizes the importance of the family and the obligations of the younger members to respect the elders. We also see how these familial attitudes spread to a conservative view of society, in which citizens similarly respect the political leaders. He also explains the importance to our everyday life of ritual and music. There's a helpful emphasis on the moral responsibilities of elders and rulers to do their job well and decide what is best for the group as a whole. The final chapter on how Confucianism has played a central role in the life of Chinese people for many centuries is especially useful.

 

© 2015 Christian Perring

 

Christian Perring, Professor of Philosophy, Dowling College, New York


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