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A Comparison of Confucius with Plato and Aristotle in Political Philosophy
Canadian Academy of Independent Scholars
(submitted to and accepted by THE XΧVTH INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE OF PHILOSOPHY, 2016 in Ancient Olympia, Greece)
Summary: Modern political philosophy lists Plato and Aristotle as its ancient founders but not Confucius. In fact, Confucius was a professional politician while neither Plato nor Aristotle was. Confucius practiced and taught politics for his whole life. Confucius’ political philosophy is based on the genetically coded primary society while Western political philosophy including Plato’s and Aristotle’s are all based on the man-made secondary society.
Confucius political philosophy is nothing but human-heartedness plus examples, which are set up by the ruling class for the people to follow and set up by everybody for others to follow.
Both Confucius and Plato charted out the ideal universal state for whole humanity but neither thought they were the original creators of their ideas. During the last six thousand years, civilization and accumulation of knowledge and social complexity were only side products of upgrading wars until the two world wars. It is like the evolutionary process that fish moved onto land and became mammals and birds, which was created not by man but by God.
Both Confucius and Aristotle were practical philosophers with a wide interest covering both nature and human worlds. Thus Plato from his sophisticated thinking of various forms or ideas and Confucius from his traditional and practical human world both came to the universal state of humanity. The fundamental difference between Confucius and Plato, Aristotle was: The former based the genetically coded natural primary society while the latter was based on the man-made secondary society. During Confucius’ time, the Ancient Chinese Super State of Primary Societies was still intact and functioning like today’s United Nations to keep peace among local powers while Plato’s philosopher kings are also partially played by the United Nations in modern world. In a way, from Confucius, Plato, and to Aristotle was along a course from the original human world in pre-civilization to the modern world. In the post-modern era, we may have to go an opposite course from Aristotle, Plato, and to Confucius.
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Confucius worked through his whole life as a local governor, minister, and a councilor and manager to various state leaders while only Aristotle worked as a teacher or councilor to Great Alexander for some years. Confucius was also a teacher who taught people how to prepare themselves for a position in the government at different levels. If politics is the art or science of government and a politician practices politics, Confucius was a professional politician while none of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle was.
Why Confucius was not named as a political philosopher while the above mentioned three ancient Greeks were is only because Confucius’ political philosophy was based on the genetically coded primary society. As Western civilization has led the world in the last five hundred years in modernization, post-modern era urges us to see Confucius’ political philosophy in comparison with Plato and Aristotle.
When all human societies are divided into the genetically coded primary society and the man-made secondary society, it is found that the Western civilization started with the secondary society while the Chinese started with the primary society. The ancient Chinese super state was divided orderly into numerous primary societies including the ruling class, which enabled Chinese people to continue their social life humans have lived for several million years. This super state of primary societies remained intact until 476 BC when Warring States Period started. (Li, 2005, 2014)
1)The master of the primary society is man while the master of the secondary society is God.
The primary society is the society humans are born with, and so humans are the master just as monkeys are the master of their society. The primary society, based on face-to-face interaction, has about 150 members and the social order is esthetic/psychological. The social order is usually rational in a secondary society.
As a man-made society, the secondary society faces numerous possibilities and each has an uncharted course stretching into the future. As the result, the secondary society is uncontrollable by man.
Lao Tzu says: “The human world is a Godly thing, which cannot be operated, and cannot be owned either, the one who operates it will end in failure, the one who owns it will loose it. (Chapter 29) Confucius respected God but stayed away from God: He focused on the human society but did not astray away from the human nature: the human-heartedness. Both Lao Tzu and Confucius hold the view: Stay away from action-taking and the world will remain orderly.
Having seen various societies a
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