left biblioblography: PROFILES IN ATHEISM - CONFUCIUS

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

PROFILES IN ATHEISM - CONFUCIUS

Some time ago, I pontificated on how religion sprang from the womb of evolution. A theistic poster responded thusly: "“From the womb of evolution, sprang [atheism]”

We run into this misconception constantly. Most theists assume that atheism is a recent development, dating back only to Madelyn O' Hair. Sometimes, on the bigger blogs, somebody will occasionally spout off about O' Hair, carrying on as if she was the spearhead for the entire movement, and we atheists are following/worshipping her in some obscure way. Or that evolution was somehow the progenitor of atheism.

Personally, I'd never heard of the woman until after I decided I was an atheist. And truthfully, she's hardly the sort of person I'd follow, let alone listen to. She had some good points, but her personal life was...short of stellar, let us say, and leave it at that. Also, I had little opinion about evolution, as well. I made that decision independent of the facts of evolution. Hell, I'd even embarked on a (short-lived, egotistic) effort at reconciling gawd with evolution.

So, I will henceforth begin a listing of famous atheists in history, a much-neglected topic, which shows that atheism has been extant since the roots of recorded history.

We begin with an Asian fellow, by name of Confucius [items in bold are my emphasis]

"Confucius, Philosopher
  • Born: 551 B.C.
  • Birthplace: Lu, China (now Shandong province)
  • Died: 479 B.C.
  • Best Known As: Chinese sage

Also Known As: Kong Fu-Zi

Confucius was a teacher, scholar and minor political official whose commentary on Chinese literary classics developed into a pragmatic philosophy for daily life. Not strictly religious, the teachings of Confucius were a utilitarian approach to social harmony and defined moral obligations between individuals and social systems. After his death his pupils collected notes on his sayings and doings and recorded them as the Analects. This compilation was added to over the years, and many sayings attributed to him are probably only loosely based on his teachings. His approach was formalized into a political and religious system during the Han Dynasty in the early part of the third century. It was embraced by subsequent generations and was the "state religion" of China until the latter part of the 20th century. In recent years critics have condemned Confucianism, characterizing its reliance on tradition as an impediment to modernization."

A few brief glimpses into his point of view:

(snip)

"Philosophy

Main article: Confucianism

Although Confucianism is often followed in a religious manner by the Chinese, arguments continue over whether it is a religion, because it makes little reference to theological or spiritual matters (god(s), the afterlife, etc.).

Confucius' principles gained wide acceptance primarily because of their basis in common Chinese opinion. He championed strong familial loyalty, ancestor worship, respect of elders by their children and of husbands by their wives, and the family as a basis for an ideal government. He expressed the well-known principle, "Do not do to others what you do not want done to yourself" (similar to the Golden Rule). He also looked nostalgically upon earlier days, and urged the Chinese, particularly the politicians, to model themselves on earlier examples. "What the superior man seeks is in himself. What the mean man seeks is in others"

(snip)

"Ethics

"The Confucian theory of ethics is based on three important concepts:

"While Confucius grew up, referred to the three aspects of life: sacrificing to the gods, social and political institutions, and daily behavior. It was believed that originated from the heavens. Confucius argued that it flowed not from heaven but from humanity. He redefined to refer to all actions committed by a person to build the ideal society. , to Confucius, became every action by a person aiming to meet his surface desires. These can be either good or bad. Generally, attempts to obtain short term pleasure are bad while those, which in the long term try to make one's life better, are generally good. These concepts are about doing the proper thing at the proper time."

(End snip)

Note that Confucius came up with the 'Golden Rule', otherwise known as the 'ethic of reciprocity' prior to Jesus and Hillel (though it is attributed to the legendary Moses).

A few choice quotes to wet the palate:

The superior man is modest in his speech but exceeds in his actions.
Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.
The superior man acts before he speaks, and afterwards speaks according to his action.
Mankind differs from the animals only by a little and most people throw that away.
Do not be desirous of having things done quickly. Do not look at small advantages. Desire to have things done quickly prevents their being done thoroughly. Looking at small advantages prevents great affairs from being accomplished.
When anger rises, think of the consequences.
They must change who would be constant in happiness and wisdom.

Discuss amongst yourselves.

Till the next post, then.

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12 comments:

beepbeepitsme said...

Perhaps the west could stand to learn from eastern philoophies. I think so anyway.

Krystalline Apostate said...

BBIM:
There are those in Western circles who claim our 'godlessness' stems from Eastern Mysticism. Like McDowell.
I'm going to do about 1 a week on 'Profiles' - turns out, there's quite a few Greek fellas what thought the same.

beepbeepitsme said...

Cool - I will find it interesting.

Aviaa said...

So, I will henceforth begin a listing of famous atheists in history, a much-neglected topic, which shows that atheism has been extant since the roots of recorded history.

What a lovely idea. I enjoyed the article and am looking forward to the rest!

Krystalline Apostate said...

aviaa, Well, I'm putting it on a weekly schedule at this point.
I did do something some time ago about Voltaire - I'll be pontificating on this regularly. ;)

Stardust said...

KA - Great post and will be looking forward to future posts in this series of yours.

OT, that someone you have had a recent debate with has issues to say the least. She is going to be really rabid now because I basically told her after her recent tirade to have a bowl of noodles and chill.

Krystalline Apostate said...

Stardust, it took me a second to think, as I've got irons in a lot of fires (wow, but I like to start a good tussle sometimes).
Rabid is a perfect word for her. She's fucking nuts. She used to follow BEAJ around for a while. Obsessively.

Stardust said...

KA - If she hasn't said she is an atheist, I would take her for a xian zealot. I guess in a way she is a zealot...but for what? She is against everything but never says what she is in favor of and doesn't seem to have anything positive to offer. Also, like a xian she doesn't read anything..just skims and is more interested in what is inside her own head.

Krystalline Apostate said...

stardust - yeah, I've noticed that penchant for negativity.
& I've noticed she never tells a joke, or shows any humor (that I recall, anyways).
She sets forth a statement, picks whatever suits her, & then claims victory if no 1 opposes it, or calls names if someone does.
She bugs the everlivin' hell outta me. Done being pleasant about, too.

Stardust said...

KA - Yeah, I noticed that. No sense of humor. She's like Mikey...she hates everything. LOL!

What country is she from? Is she an American?

Roya has a new post about the same subject if you want to check it out
(The Atheist Girl).

Stardust said...

I meant that Roya's blog is The Atheist Girl...sorry

Krystalline Apostate said...

stardust - yeah, she makes me think of that character in the 'Gulliver's Travels' cartoon - the tiny Lilliputian who ALWAYS said, "It'll never work - we're DOOMED!"
Thanks, I'll give Roya a look see.