An Essay Discussing the Role and Influence of Confucianism in Modern China

Richard L. Torres, Fall 2015

This essay analyzes the on-going debate on the resurgence of Confucianism in China today through examination of its historical rise and falls in history.  It argues that while Confucianism will always serve as a traditional source of social mannerism and interpersonal relationships, it will never be declared the form of governance nor popular religion in China.  By analyzing the roles of Confucianism throughout its dynastic and modern history, this article discerns a pattern of continuing drop in power, influence, and popularity amongst the political and religious sects alike.  Some of the eras highlighted by the article include the Zhou, Han, and Song Dynasties, and it examines the role of Confucianism as both a religion and form of governance.  It then moves on to discuss the area of modernization and nationalism that China is now facing today.  The article calls upon the opposing ideals behind Nationalism and Confucianism as a reason why resurgence of Confucianism in China today would be unlikely.  So long as China is contending with other countries for power and resources, its values will never align with those of the Confucian teachings.  The problems between Confucianism and Nationalism are further demonstrated by examining Japans nineteenth century adaptation of the Chinese school of philosophy.  The article ends with the newest and most formidable barricade against Confucianism’s revival: economic growth.  It echoes the concerns that the rapid economic growth brought upon by China’s industrialization has shifted the Chinese people’s values astray from the Confucian values of harmony and helping others.