The Ancient World (HUM 124 - UNC Asheville)/Texts/Analects/Humaneness
Humaneness[edit | edit source]
The quality of compassion or consideration for others. It can also be characterized by kindness, mercy and the bearing and behavior that a paradigmatic human being exhibits in order to promote a flourishing human community. In Analects Book 6 Saying 22, it says "The humane man puts difficulties first and success in overcoming them. This may be called humaneness." which may give a vague working definition from Confucius himself.
Working definition of Humaneness: The word for humaneness in Chinese is, Rén, which translates as "man". The term humaneness is used in the analects to encapsulate an ideal or virtue that humans should strive for in their interactions with others. Humaneness is described as being a "heaven-sent" way of being that encompasses all virtues such as compassion and consideration for others. Due to its all-encompassing and vague nature, even Confucius himself has a hard time giving clear answers as to how to achieve humaneness to his pupils; for example, in book 9 #1 the authors state, "The Master seldom spoke of profit and fate and humaneness."
In quote 6, as states " As far as anyone who loved humaneness is concerned, there will be no way of surpassing him" What I take from this is that a person who loves compassion is rare. Compassion and empathy lead to a better understanding of the human experience. I find quote 6 from book four interesting because he is basically saying that most people are somewhere in the middle, neither humane nor inhumane. Confucius says that someone who loves humaneness can not be surpassed, meaning that they are superior. This makes me think that people who strive to be compassionate not for personal gain, but for the impact that is has on others are the type of people we should strive to be. The hatred of in-humaneness is rare as well because there is not a large amount of people actively seeking out injustice or in humaneness in the world and trying to stop it. Learning from your mistakes is a key to humaneness as said in quote 7. Learning from our own past mistakes can also lead us to reflect on what other people have gone through. For example, “This could I have treated this person differently because I now know that I was in the wrong. We go through life learning.
Modern day application[edit | edit source]
A perfect example in 2020 is wearing masks, because a mask does the work of protecting others, but some people do not want to wear one because of “the individual liberty”, but in doing so are hurting those around them. The “ rugged individualism” that has been stressed in America is what has made this country become so devastated by the pandemic. Humaneness is the focus on others rather than the focus on self and holding empathy for others. It is proven that wearing a mask can prevent you from spreading the virus to other people. Wearing a mask is an act of humaneness because you do not know what the people around you are struggling with and wearing a mask could help keep others safe.
Another way humaneness appears today is our care for animals and nature. National Parks, recovery centers, vets, wildlife sanctuaries, and humane shelters are examples of humanities contribution to creating better lives for animals.
Connections to other texts[edit | edit source]
Teaching of Amenemope: Chapter 8 section 20 says; ' Set your goodness before people, then you are greeted by all.' We should show the good of ourselves to others by showing new people the goodness we have to offer when first meeting them. Treating others with kindness is an act of compassion, especially because we do not know what a person has been throughout their lives and the goodness that you show a stranger can go a long way.
Handbook of Epictetus: Number 5 says: '...death is nothing dreadful... but instead the judgment about death is dreadful.' This quote is saying nothing would be inherently sad if not for the compassion and kindness of others. The reason death is so hard to deal with and comprehend is the way we feel about others. When we see other people show emotions, for example mourning over someone's death, we are likely to feel those emotions and exhibit them as well.
Handbook of Epictetus: Number 14 says: ' You are foolish if you want your children and your wife and your friends to live forever, since you are wanting things to be up to you that are not up to you...' A persons' humaneness, their love and compassion for others can be their downfall. Wanting the people you are close to to live forever is an understandable want, however it can only lead to a tragic ending. Caring for people too much can make you become too selfless, you do not take the proper time to look after yourself and you will slowly fall apart.
Teaching of Amenemope: Chapter 13 section 5 says; " If you find a large debt against a poor man, make it into three parts, forgive two, let one stand." Forgiving the debt of the poor is the humane thing to do, this is a relevant idea still today. Later he goes onto say "who invented these things and made them?", who makes these rules, and on what authority does one have to exploit another? This is relating to the love of money, which some say in the root of all evil, I do not disagree. The humane way to live life is to put the well-being and needs of others over their financial situation. Treating everyone with respect regardless of their financial standing and helping the poor.
The Ancient Worldview:[edit | edit source]
The Analects were written around 500 BC, and the traditional birth and death of Master Kong are 551 and 479. Master Kong was conscious of the recent framework of the 3 dynasties; Xia, Yin, and Zhou. Master Kong favored the early Zhou period and viewed it as the " golden age" .
Based of the amount of quotations fond in the analects relating to humaneness, this is something that Confucious cared a lot about. Many of the ideas expressed in the analects relate to the typical ideals of Chinese civilization at the time. A essential theme is self cultivation, preparing the reader to take part in society at large. Humaneness is how one can relate and empathize with others, which is a crucial thing to learn if you hope to be successful in your future. I think that Master King knew this, which is why the word humaneness appears so many times throughout the text.
Analects of interest:[edit | edit source]
- 1.2 "...Filial piety and fraternal duty- surely they are the roots of humaneness."
- 1.3 " The Master said: 'Clever words and a plausible appearance have seldom turned out to be humane.'"
- 4.1 " The Master said: 'It is humaneness which is the attraction of a neighborhood. If from choice one does not dwell in humaneness, how does one obtain wisdom?'"
- 4.6 The Master said: " I have never come across anyone who loved humaneness and hated inhumaneness. As far as anyone who loved humaneness is concerned , there would be no way of surpassing him."
- 4.7 "The People's mistakes all come in the same category in that, if one contemplates a mistake, then one gains an understanding of humaneness."
- 5.8, 5.19, and 9.1. These analects talk about how Confucius wouldn't give his students clear answers as to what humaneness entails and how someone goes about obtaining humaneness. (Maybe bring this up when talking about unexplained aspects of humaneness)
- 6.22-23 and 30. I think these analects give a vague idea of what Confucius considered to be humaneness.
- 7.30 "The Master said: 'Is humaneness really so far away? If we ourselves wanted humaneness, the humaneness would arrive.'" This analect confused me because if obtaining humaneness is as easy as wanting to be humane, then why isn't everyone humane and why does Confucius make a big deal out of becoming humane and not give his students a clear answer as to how to become humane.
- 1.6 and 8.2 ties into the idea of filial piety and putting family first that is mentioned in 1.2
- 12.1-3. Confucius giving his students somewhat vague answers to what is humaneness and how does one achieve humaneness
- 13.12 " The Master said: if there was a true king, after a generation humaneness would certainly preval."
- 13.19 " Fan Chi asked about humaneness. The Master said: 'Courtesy in private life, reverence in handling business, loyalty in relationship with others. They should not be set aside even if one visits the barbarian tribes.'
- 13.19 " The Master said: ' firmness, resoluteness, simplicity, and reticence are close to humaneness.'
- 14.1 "If one does not behave in such a way that one is domineering, boastful, resentful, or covetous, one may be considered humane." The Master said: "It may be considered difficult, but as for humane, I do not know."
- 14.4 "The Master said : 'Anyone who is humane is bound to possess courage, but anyone who is courageous does not necessarily possess humaneness.'"
- 14.6 "The Master said: 'There are people who are not humane although they are gentlemen, aren't there? But there is no such thing as someone who is humane although he is a small man.'"
- 4.4- "The Master said: 'If one sets one's heart on humaneness, one will be without evil.'"
- 14.16-17 "Zilu said: 'When Duke Huan had Prince Jiu put to death, Shao Hu die with him, but Guan Zhong did not. Shouldn't one say that he was not at all humane?' The Master said: 'The fact that, in convening the feudal lords nine times, Duke Huan did not have recourse to weapons and war-chariots is due to the efforts of Guan Zhong. But as to the question whether he was humane or not, I have nothing to say.'" " Zigong said: 'It is not the case that Guan Zhong was a humane person, is it?'"
- 14.28 "The Master said: 'The ways of the gentleman are three but I have no ability in them: the humane do not worry; the wise are not perplexed; and the courageous do not feel fear.'"
- 15.9-10 "The Master said: 'The determined public servant and the humane man never seek to preserve life in such a way as to injure humaneness, but they will sometimes even sacrifice their lives in order to achieve humaneness.'" "Zigong asked about practising humaneness. The Master said: 'If he wishes to make his work good, the craftsman must first sharpen his tools. If one is staying in a particular state, one serves the people of highest quality among its grandees and makes friends with the most humane among its public servants.'"
- 15.33 "The Master said: 'If knowledge attains something but humaneness cannot safeguard it, then one is bound to lose it even if one has got hold of it. If knowledge attains something and humaneness can safeguard it and if one does not govern them with dignity, then the people will not be respectful. If knowledge attains something and humaneness can be safeguard it and if one governs them with dignity, but if in moving them into action one does not accord with the rites, one is not yet good.'"
- 15.35-36 "The Master said: 'The people's connection with humaneness is more important than water or fire. As for water and fire, I have come across people who have died through stepping on them, but I have never come across people who have died through stepping on humaneness.'" "The Master said: 'When one is confronted by humaneness, one does not yet yield precedence to one's teacher.'"
- 17.1 "He went on: 'If one hugs one's treasure close so that one is letting one's country go astray, can one be called humane?'"
- 17.5 "Master Kong said: 'One who can bring about the practice of five things everywhere under Heaven has achieved humaneness.'"
- 17.7 "If one loves humaneness but does not love learning, the consequence of this is folly..."
- 17.19 "...the Master said: 'As for Yu's inhumaneness, it is not until a child is three years old that is escapes from being nursed by its parents.'"
- 18.1 "The Master said: 'In the Yin there were three humane men.'"
- 19.6 "Zixia said: 'If one studies widely and is sincere in one's purpose, and if one enquires earnestly and reflects on what is at hand, then humaneness is to be found among such activities.'"
- 19.15-16 "Ziyou said: 'My friend Zizhang seems hard to emulate, but he is not yet humane.'" "Master Zeng said: 'Magnificent indeed is Zizhang, but it is difficult to collaborate with him in the practice of humaneness.'"
- 20.1-2 "If through desiring humaneness, he gets humaneness, then how is he being greedy?"