The Confucian Way Broadcast Series
In the fifth episode of the broadcast, the significance of ritual is discussed. Unlike habit, which is about managing the self, ritual or Li (禮) is about others. Through ritual, people are encouraged to form and respect relationships and build trust in the community. Whereas in the West, rituals are inconsistent and are centred on the individual (where it is acceptable if individuals refuse to follow some rituals), ritual in Confucian societies emphasizes attention to detail, discipline and care. Consistency and the expectation that people will respect their roles in society is what reinforces solidarity and creates harmonious interaction.
In the fourth episode of the broadcast, Professor Mortley examines two moral dilemmas about sons betraying fathers in the interests of justice, one from Plato’s Euthyphro, and the other from Confucius’ Analects. Traditionally, Chinese culture emphasises filial piety or respect where there is an obligation to be reverent to one’s parents and ancestors.
Although ideally, a harmonisation of all principles should be achieved where justice, care for others, and filial respect are valued, in the Confucian dilemma, there a greater truth in obligation to family so it is preferred that the son remains loyal to his father than to his community.
In the third episode of the Confucian Way, Professor Mortley discusses the subversiveness of Confucianism, that is, the way Confucius directly critiques society and challenges the status quo. However, in light of the Chinese Communist Party’s endorsement of Confucianism in recent years, Professor Mortley asks whether Confucianism can maintain its critical thought while being embraced by the Chinese State and the Communist Party.