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Position:Confucius opposed violent rebellion in any circumstance

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Basic position

Confucius believed that people should never rebel because it diverges from the Good Way and respect for sovereignty. Yet, his philosophy extended beyond the non-violence doctrines of Ghandi and Martin Luther King Jr. in the sense that he also maintained that any kind of rebellion, even non-violent disobedience, was counter to the Good Way. As you'll read below, he argued that in any circumstance of oppression, one should simply "hide" in accordance with maintaining their course of non-violence and good faith within the Good Way. He even went as far as to argue that a person of no official rank should not talk politics.

Select Quotes

  • The Analects of Confucius. Books VIII. Verses 6-13. - "Master Tseng said, The man to whom one could with equal confidence entrust an orphan not yet fully grown or the sovereignty of a whole State, whom the advent of no emergency however great could upset - would such a one be a true gentleman? He I think would be a true gentleman indeed.
Master Tseng said, The true Knight of the Way must perforce be both broad-shouldered and stout of heart: his burden is heavy and he has far to go. For Goodness is the burden he has taken upon himself; and must be no grant that it is a heavy one to bear? Only with death does his journey end; then must we not grant that he has far to go?
The Master said, Let a man be first incited by the Songs, then given a firm footing by the study of ritual, and finally perfected by music.
The master said, The common people can be made to follow it; they cannot be made to understand it.
The Master said, One who is by nature daring and is suffering from poverty will not long be law-abiding. Indeed, any men, save those that are truly Good, if their sufferings are very great, will be likely to rebel.
...The Master said, Be of unwavering good faith, love learning, if attacked be ready to die for the good Way. Do no enter a State that pursues dangerous courses, nor stay in one where the people have rebelled. When the Way prevails under Heaven, then show yourself; when it does not prevail, then hide..."

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