Are Confucianism and Islamic Ethics Applicable in the contemporary world? Confucianism is a type of religion that bases its believe on the basis that life ought to be lived fully and there is nothing like heaven and the afterlife because the two are beyond our human capacity. It teaches its believers on the need to treat each individual equally, to have respect towards one another and in total developing a holistic approach in terms of good relations towards one another, developing good moral and ethical values and therefore enhancing good virtues in every individual. It is in other word translated to mean living good and happy life to every individual without having ideals that are translated to mean nothing at all. For them therefore, reason plays a major role in one’s life than just a mere faith while one is on this world. On the other hand, the Muslim faith also advocates for equity among its members. That every person is equal to the eyes of God and nobody should receive more equality than just the other. The two faiths share a common understanding from the view point of respect of life and with no unfairness in dealing with one another. The major underlying concept for Confucianism is their consideration of truth as being reason from which everything is laid out. Out of reason, every individual will realize the common good, the ethical principles, how to live rightly, and the doctrine of the mean are the key guides in realizing our heaven here on earth. The doctrine of the mean is the central point in the book Confucius Lives Next Door: What Living in the East Teaches Us about Living in the West By T.R. Reid. “Drawing on five years of living with his family in Japan, Reid credits this social phenomenon to the Chinese philosopher Confucius (551-479 b.c.)”, when he says that the peoples’ culture is centered on moral virtues. That everyone is called to the virtue of mean. That is to say that the extreme ends of every action ought not to exist in every individual. Every person need to receive equal treatment with no biasness. The Japanese cultural experience has taught him the fundamental grace that every person is called to. The grace to put the needs of others before ourselves. In this way then we are in a position to enjoy the common good which can only be realized when we practice the doctrine of the mean. If every individual on the other hand is able to practice the doctrine of the mean that he says is in between the extremes. or rather put it this way that the five virtues: “jen yi—righteousness/justice li—religious/moral action chih—wisdom hsin—faithfulness” (Class notes) are the key guides in bringing societal harmony. Only then can we say knowledge leads to virtue, when people are ignorant, their personalities are disorganized, for the unruly desires and passions then control them. By contrast, when people truly know what is good, that is, when they know what promotes harmony, they do what is good (p146). The reason therefore why the western countries will never eliminate the rate of crime, poor economy, poor performance in leadership roles, is lack of good ethical principles that are not based on good reason leading to a society that is based on individualism and egoism motives. T.R. Reid continues to tell us that the Japanese culture is indeed a true culture that every one of us needs to emulate so as to live a true life here on earth. The principle of the common good as narrated in T.R. Reid’s book: Confucius Lives Next Door: What Living in the East Teaches Us about Living in the West can only be realized if and only if we treat others not as our means to an end as Kant puts it but as an end in themselves. We need to know that no human being is created to suffer but all of us need to enjoy life and get help from one another with no partiality. The moral and ethical principles are the basis towards attaining the common good. which is in this regard practicing good leadership, justice in dealing with one another and therefore bringing the equality that all is yearning for. Plato’s pupil Aristotle held that the common good is that ability of attaining total freedom and happiness. Happiness would refer more to the satisfaction of man’s spiritual powers through the kind of activity which perfects those same faculties on account of its being directed to noble objects. This doctrine implies maintaining some kind of moderation in our actions. It involves some kind of employing practical wisdom and awareness of the need for moderation in every decision making situation. So the best way for us to achieve the good which should be the goal of every American citizen is to behave in terms of morality in accordance with the “mean”. In order for us to achieve the good which is in this regard happiness, moderation needs to be in place. For Aristotle, acting moderately is allied with virtue. Courage for example, is the mean between cowardice and rashness. It is further important to note that while one would concede the doctrine of moderation can assist us to avert social and moral problems in certain explosive situations, it is difficult to admit that there could be a universal parameter for knowing what a moderate course of action should be. Thus acting moderately becomes relativistic. In this way therefore no one will be able to say or judge a course of action as morally good or bad since our individual perception of “moderation”, in action must differ. Since every individual exists in his or her own unique situation, this means by implication that each individual has to figure out for himself or herself how to act in his or her own unique situation. But in conclusion, the two faiths invite us to embrace the human heart. the heart of togetherness and love towards enhancing peaceful coexistence in this world. Works Cited Frankena, William K., (Ethics 2nd Edition), New Delhi: prentice Hall of India Ltd., 2001. Class Notes T.R. Reid., Confucius Lives Next Door: What Living in the East Teaches Us about Living in the West. London: Oxford University Press, 1963.
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