Fields Of Practice


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fields of practice Confucianism, Daoism, and Legalism

Amidst the chaos of political instability and constant warring of the Zhou era, arose many intellectual thinkers that brought such a profound impact in the fields of politics, religion, and philosophy.  Even to this day, their influence can be seen on the many matters of China.  Confucianism became the paramount school of thinking and later significant philosophies such as Daoism and Legalism gained immense recognition as well.  Each party had their own proposals for creating an idealistic political society where the many problems they faced in their everyday lives could be eliminated.  All three approaches were very distinct but at the same time, they contained similarities as well.  In my reasoning, I find that Confucianism and Daoism could be paralled in many ways to find several common grounds.  On the other hand, Legalism goes on to take a more unique approach which was much different from the previous two.  
Confucius was born in 551 B.C.E, to a poor family of the lower nobility.  Throughout his life, he relentlessly tried to gain an office with a prominent ruler of the time who was willing to adopt his various concepts.  Unfortunately, Confucius died in 479B.C.E., before such a change ever took place.  However, he succeeded in winning over a handful of devote followers who continued his legacy and Confucianism later went on to become one of the most influential thought systems of Chinese history.  Of his followers, Mencius and Xunzi became one of the most renown.  Since Confucius did not succeed in completing a manual of his views, these followers had to derive their own interpretations of the system, which now formulate, the Analects.  The Analects portray an idealized gentleman, and his various duties in terms of the society, family and rituals.  Confucius explains about the way (Dao) which he believed, that if the people accepted its terms and were willing to abide, they would succeed in creating a utopian society.
By the beginning of the Common Era, another philosophy emerges and gains wide acceptance among the commoners.  Daoism, just like the predecessor and also as the name implies, puts emphasis on the way that a certain individual is to abide to.  Even though the two systems had different concepts about the way, the common denominator of both schools was to achieve total harmony in society.  Confucianism focuses mainly on social order while Daoism puts its central; focus on being one with the nature.
If an individual can practice five things anywhere in the world, he is a man of humanity...reverence, generosity, truthfulness, diligence and kindness (Ebrey 19).  Confucius gentleman has to possess these fine qualities to achieve success.  On the other side of the token, Daoism emphasized the need for similar entities.  Laozi explains: For minds, the depth is good.  In social relations, human-heartedness is good.  In speaking, the trustworthiness is good.  In government order is good (Ebrey 28).  Both systems, through through different approaches, promote peace and goodwill among the family, society and with neighboring states.
Both Confucianism and Daoism accept the presence of a supernatural entity but do not provide a clear explanation on it.  Both thought systems consider it mostly as a mystery that the human mind cannot fully comprehend or alter.  Confucius put great importance in conducting numerous rituals for various occasions.  He found it to be an essential part for the well being of society.  He said, when superiors love ritual, the people are easy to direct (Ebrey 22).  Xunzi provides a more elaborate explanation.  He said Ritual conduct is the perfection of decorum...Sages comprehend it, gentleman comfortably carries them out, officials preserves them and the common people consider them custom (Ebrey 25).  The same sense of mystery or vagueness can be sensed in Daoism.  Laozi said, The way that can be discussed is not the constant way...nameless is the source of Heaven and earth...Their identity can be called a mystery (Ebrey 27).
Both Confucianism and Daoism disfavored a harsh government.  Confucius urged to lead the people with virtue and rituals as opposed to government policies and punishment.  He believed that the ruler should gain respect through his deeds rather that achieving it through his status and authority.  Likewise, Daoism disliked the emphasis of status being displayed in ... more

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Desert flower

DESERT FLOWER

 Waris Dirie was born into a family of nomads in a Somalian desert.  Growing up, she was privileged to run free with natures most majestic animals, and learned a respect for nature that many of us as Americans could never fathom.  However, these thrills are just on the surface of what life is really like for African women.  She suffered through intense traditional mutilation in her childhood, and endless hours of hard labor in the fields everyday.  At the age of 13, she ran away to escape the marriage that her father had arranged for her to a sixty-year-old man in exchange for five camels.  She left with nothing but the swaddling clothes on her back not even shoes to protect her feet from the scorching African sun.  Her journey on foot went on for weeks, until she found her sister, who had also ran away five years earlier for the same reasons.  After getting reacquainted with an aunt and her ambassador husband, Waris moved to England with them.  When her uncles term was up, she stayed in England where a photographer, who eventually put her on the cover many major magazines, discovered her.  In describing her remarkable journey through life, Waris demonstrates examples of a masculine culture with elements high uncertainty-avoidance, and her own individualism amongst such a  collectivistic society.
Wariss description of life in Africa is a perfect definition for a masculine culture.  She explains, Women are the backbone of Africa; they do most of the work.  Yet women are powerless to make decisions. She recalls a story of how her loving mother permitted her to be butchered, because of a traditional African ritual to please African men.  When she was five years old, her mother made her an appointment to meet with the gypsy women.  Waris didnt know exactly what this meant, but it was supposedly an exciting moment in the lives of young African girls, and when they returned, they were considered women.  Waris recalls in graphic detail being bound and blind-folded by her mother while the gypsy women sliced between her legs repeatedly, then sewed her up, leaving a whole the size of a match-head.  She was then drug off to a shelter under a bush where she spent weeks alone to recuperate. Sadly, this is not an isolated case, millions of nomadic cultures still perform the ritual, and many young girls do not survive the surgery.  All this is done to ensure that African women will not be promiscuous, for after the surgery, sex is extremely painful for them.  African men want a wife who has had the surgery because the tiny whole brings more pleasure to them, and so the women suffer through this to please the men.  African mothers do what they can to ensure a wedding for their daughters, because there is no place in society for an unmarried woman.
 The Somalian culture in which Waris was raised showed many aspects of a high-uncertainty avoidance culture.  The world today contains incredible technology, yet her people still live in the same manner as their ancestors thousands of years ago.  Their society has stayed virtually unchanged, and not because of chance, but choice. This avoidance is demonstrated by Wariss translator at one point in her life.  After finally coming clean with her doctor about the reason she had such intolerable periods in which she could not function for seven days, he insisted that she get the circumcision from her childhood reversed as soon as possible.  To discuss the details of the operation, the doctor hired a translator, for her English was not yet fluent. To her dismay, the translator was a Somalian male who scorned her about going against their custom.   He was offended that Waris would deviate from the tradition, regardless of the pain that she experienced because of it.   He didnt question that the procedure was inappropriate, just accepted it as culture.  This is why the rules and rituals in that society have remained the same for so many years; they are not questioned, just followed.  The people have faith that these practices are right under God, and therefor they continue.
Regardless of her strictly collectivistic upbringing, Waris throughout ... more

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