The Ancient World (HUM 124 - UNC Asheville)/Texts/Analects/Understanding

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Concept of Understanding[edit | edit source]

Understanding (zhi) is a concept used throughout the text. It is the relation between the knower and the object of understanding. It indicates not just knowledge but also awareness and appreciation for something. Understanding is emphasized as an important characteristic of leaders and those serving in government. Understanding is obtained through studying and learning but also through past experience and reflection to create a better future.

Ambiguous Concepts[edit | edit source]

Ambiguous Concepts is understood to be more than one possible interpretation or meaning within the theme. There are components of this theme that remain ambiguous...

Examples from Text[edit | edit source]

  • "Every day I examine my character in three respects: am I disloyal in my designs for others, am I untrustworthy in my dealings with friends, have I failed to practice what has been passed on to me?" (Book 1, Line 4)
  • "If he commits a fault, he should not shrink away from correcting it." (Book 1, Line 8)
  • "See how he operates, observe what path he follows, examine what he is satisfied with, and how can a man remain inscrutable." (Book 2, Line 10)
  • "He puts his sayings into action before adopting them as guidelines." (Book 2, Line 13)
  • "Shall I teach you about understanding something? When you understand something, to recognize that you understanding it; but when you do not understand something, to recognize that you do not understand it-that is understanding." *(Book 2, Line 17)
  • "If you hear much but omit doubtful points and speak cautiously about the rest of it, then you will seldom be to blame. If you see much but omit what is dangerous and cautiously put into practice the rest of it, then you will seldom feel regret." (Book 2, Line 18)
  • " What sort of understanding was his?" "The master said: 'He was loyal.' 'Was he humane?' said Zizhang. 'I do not yet understand', said the Master, 'how he could be considered humane.'" (Book 5, Line 18-19)

Confucius Worldview/Ancient Worldview[edit | edit source]

The Confucius worldview was mainly based on harmony promoted by a strict moral code. This moral code defined how government should function and the philosophy regarding the relationship between government and the citizen. Understanding is a crucial component of this worldview, as devotion to learning was a key component of maintaining societal harmony. It is seen that Confucius' Analects takes on the concept of knowing that more closely approximates 'knowing-how' than 'knowing-that'. To act in the moment. The Analects focuses on not only moral code, but as well as their focus on self-cultivation.

Guidelines for page

  • A definition of the term in the form of a discussion over 1-3 paragraphs
  • Unexplained or ambiguous aspects; general questions that we are left with
  • Frequent use of quotations from the Analects, as much as possible
  • Discussion about how this idea is relevant, or not relevant, to our modern worldview
  • Explicit discussion of what Confucius’s worldview is, and how it might be characteristic of the ancient worldview in general