JOURNAL WRITINGS I
“A SUPERIOR PERSON WILL FOCUS ON WHAT IS TRUTH, AN INFERIOR PERSON ON WHAT IS PROFITABLE.” ——CONFUCIUS
The original text of this maxim is “君子喻于义，小人喻于利”. The term “superior/inferior person” especially refers to ethical aspects. And the word “truth” corresponds to “义”, which also means “justice”, “rightness” or “reason”. Confucius told us a virtuous person should regard the “Reason” higher than “effect”. When we are judging whether something should be done or not, we should first consider the reasons for doing this. Once we decided to do it, we would then weigh the advantages and disadvantages in order to get better results.
This does not mean that inferior people would never consider justice or reason. They also talk about the rightness, but on the basis of the profits. What they regard as a right action is which could effect the biggest profit. They consider that the reason of an action should be judged just through its consequences.
A superior person needs not to be absolutely unselfish. He might has selfish desires, but could sympathize with others who have the same desires. On the other hand, an inferior person does not necessarily selfish. They might focus on the profits of public. The essential difference is that, actually, an inferior person never cares about the Virtue.
It is nothing wrong to weigh the consequences carefully. But how can we weigh something? We always need a ruler to measure the effects, and to identify profits and losses. We should first focus on our moral rule, thus we could choose a profitable action. The inferior people do not have their own rule, and they judge just according to the values of custom or popular.
JOURNAL WRITINGS II
What are the common beliefs or differences about humanity between Christianity and Confucius.
Both Christianity and Confucianism are teaching people to perform good deeds. They believe that one should not be selfish, but to love others as himself.
Love is a key concept of Christianity and Confucianism. Confucius and Mencius said that benevolence means love of humankind（仁者爱人）. And the apostle Paul said “the end of the commandment is charity.”(1 Timothy 1:5) Charity means love of humankind. The two religions both regarded “love” as the most important part of humanity.
However, there are some significant differences between their concepts of "love". The Christian “love” is some kind of universal and indiscriminate love; while the Confucian “love” is mainly different and graded.
In Christianity, first of all, each person is God's creation, so the most fundamental relationship is the relationship between human and God. There is an infinite difference between human and God. And then everyone is equal before God. Christianity hardly emphasizes the level of human relations.
But in Confucianism, first of all, each person is created and brought up by his parents, so the most fundamental relationship is the relationship between children and parents. The relationship between family members is clearly not equal. Everyone plays different roles in different positions in the family. Although family members should respect each other, the way for a son to treat his father would be very different to the way for a father to treat his son.
Confucius said, “filial piety and fraternal submission are the root of all benevolent actions.” Confucianism believed that the manner of treating others is an extension of the manner of treating one’s family members. So the community, just like a big family, may also have various levels of status.
Confucianism tends to support a hierarchical society, but its belief is not simply wrong. The natural love is really graded. And the grade of love does not necessarily mean discrimination. People need independence and impartiality, but they also need to feel loved. The universal love seems so abstract that people could rarely feel intimacy from it. The modern democracy gives people the rights to equality, but it could not tell us how to love others. The teachings of Confucius are still thought-provoking.