First of all, Confucianism is a Western-imposed misnomer. We prefer to be called, “Ruists.” Let’s start with The Five Virtues. 仁义礼智信
The Five Virtues are (1) humanity, (2) appropriate-assertiveness, (3) propriety, (4) wisdom, and (5) faith. Humanity (jen) is the first virtue, and its beginning is compassion. Mencius asserted that one would rescue a child that had fallen in a well out of compassion, not the desire to advance in society. The Chinese character for jen is a person standing next to the number two, symbolizing a person in society—a simple four stroke character. The last virtue is faith (hsin), meaning the completion of the other four virtues. Integrity and trustworthiness are two synonyms for faith (hsin). The Chinese character is a person standing next to “word.”
The beginning of appropriate-assertiveness (i) is shame. Through courage, we move from withdrawn shame to assertiveness. This concept is usually translated as “righteousness.” David Nivison introduced the more accurate translation as “appropriate-assertiveness.” The beginning of propriety (li) is deference. The beginning of wisdom (chih) is distinguishing right from wrong.
Here are two more observations on the development of virtues. “Goodness without a love of learning leads to simple-mindedness,” according to Confucius. Confucius wrote, “Straightforwardness without propriety is rudeness.”
Let’s examine propriety according to the concepts of pattern-principle and vital force—an original contribution of mine. If we don’t exhibit enough pattern-principle in our expression of propriety, we are rude. On the other hand, if we don’t show enough vital force, then we’re boring. Through appropriate-assertiveness, we add to propriety.
by Joffre Denis (JD) Meyer, B. A. Texas A&M University
Chairman of Graduate Committee: Dr. William R. Nash
The thesis is an effort to bring Neo-Confucian insights to modern cognitive- behavioral and existential therapy. The adaptability of Neo-Confucianism is illustrated through the growth-system inherent in its concepts. Frequently, Neo-Confucian sages and modern psychologists used virtually identical statements. Moreover, humanity faces the same basic issues while the particularizations vary. The importance of reason, manners, appropriate behavior and self-actualization remains constant. However, the methods of their attainment change with time. The history of the Confucian/Neo-Confucian tradition is filled with such conceptual modifications.
Neo-Confucianism is a syncretic philosophy that utilized elements of Zen, Taoism, and Legalism within Confucian teachings. This adaptation increased the sages’ ability to communicate with a wider range of people. In effect, the Neo-Confucian movement was perhaps the earliest practice of eclectic counseling. Neo-Confucianism itself has undergone development from its eleventh-century origins to the present-day scholarly journals.
The researcher does not believe the key issue in inter- disciplinary studies is whether psychology is being applied to philosophy or vice-versa. Neo-Confucianism pragmatically asserts that the true test of a philosophy rests in its ability to help the individual. Mere intellectual exercise contradicts the unity of knowledge and action.
The thesis has five chapters. The existential therapy chapter uses a predominantly Western psychology format while the cognitive-behavioral therapy chapter uses Wang Yang-ming’s Four Axiom Teaching as an outline.
The thesis also includes Neo-Confucian cognitive-moral development observations reminiscent of Lawrence Kohlberg’s stage theories. Neo-Confucianism could be described as an education in evolving from preconventional to principled reasoning. Occasional parallels are drawn between process philosophy and Neo-Confucianism as well.
There is also a chapter in which Confucian commentaries are provided to actual case studies faced by Albert Ellis and Maxie Maultsby. A Chinese glossary is provided at the end of the introduction. There are five figures in the text, two of which are summarizing models in the conclusion.