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Bernard M -- Taipei English Tutor

Bernard M - English Conversation / TOEFL / IELTS 一對一英文會話

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Why Westerners Think Confuciounism is a Religion

The following are some reasons Westerners think of Confucianism as a religion, though most Taiwanese do not consider it a religion.

The words "temple," "worship" and "pray" are often used by Taiwanese when referring to Confucianism. In English each of these words is closely linked to religion.

temple: this is usually a building for religious worship and the Chinese word for a building associated with Confucious. In contrast, when in America we wish to show our respect to a great individual without implying that he was a divinity or a god, we would build a memorial, such as the famous Lincoln or Washington memorials, in the person's honor.

worship: this is a deep respect and love usually shown or expressed for a god or divinity.

pray: before a big exam, students often pray for good scores at a Confucian Temple. But normally only a divine power can influence the future so again Westerners will conclude that Taiwanese believe Confucious was more than just a great man.

It is certainly true that Confucious is not regarded by anyone as a creator god, such as exists in the Western monotheistic (one God) religions. But the Taiwanese attitude towards Confucious suggests to Westerners that at the very least he is considered divine.

I should also mention Wing-Tsit Chan's (A Source Book in Chinese Philosophy) commentary on K'and Yu-Wei, the Chinese philosopher and reformer (1858-1927): "K'ang was the first to regard Confucious as the founder of a religion, and he vigorously advocated Confucionism as the state religion." This of course suggests my opinion is in the minority.

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