Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2015

Document Type

Thesis

Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors

Department

Religious Studies

First Advisor

Rodney Taylor

Second Advisor

Deborah Whitehead

Third Advisor

Ronald Billingsley

Abstract

Confucianism prescribes for society an immensely rich, sophisticated, and utilitarian modality of social relationship. Not only has this served as China's social and political bedrock, but it has actually evolved from, and thus suggests, the deep religious dimensionality of Confucian thought. I aim to, through the medium of Confucianism, unveil the social entity of this religious dimension as an intuitive depth and unifying reciprocity which has since the dawn of civilization been preserved and expressed as the most quintessential aspect of human life.

With an exploratory dive into the farthest metaphysics that underlie the foundational Confucian society, the true sacrality of social order becomes exposed as a model for human progress. It is the individual and collective embodiments of this sacred social modality and its innate ethical posture which carve true, lasting moral shape into our lives. The ontological controversy that will be found between contrasting expressions of this reality, especially between dualism and monism, will be discovered as an illusory barrier, entirely undermined by the Confucian dialog which effectively welds the religious to the secular, the sacred to the profane, the spiritual to the material, and the society to the individual.

From this religious quest of anthropocosmic harmony which renders society as a collectivity of sacred relativity, Confucius has presented for history the blueprints of utopia. This essay will, in framing religion as the same co-arising moiety of society, attempt to recover the shattered debris of the religious ethic, the true sincerity and seriousness of sagehood, and the innate universality of reciprocity. From this frontier, it is then possible to clearly see the profound religious imperative of Confucianism as neither a fanatical nor lethargic, overbearing nor naive religiosity, but as a simple expression of the perennial image of humanity, which is, when measured in eternity, both the secular and spiritual ideal.