Actor Chow Yun Fat as Confucius in the movie “Confucius”

Systems of Morality

The biased ethics of the Hebrew and Confucian systems of morality created a shrewd similarity of vanity embraced by the masks of humbleness and justice. Each moral system developed a level of inspirational control differing greatly in their scopes of influence.

The Hebrews, identified as Jewish by their ethnic background, were born into their God’s favor by right. Their life was to be one of servitude to their single Lord by following his just and passionate laws recorded in the Torah. Their scope of influence pertained to religion.

The Ancient Hebrew High Priest in the Official Linen garments and Ephod that were to be worn exclusively for his temple duties.

Power through courteousness for the educated gentlemen illuminated new avenues to social control for the followers of the Confucian system of morality. Their scope of influence was to be the hopes of the common man and the government that controlled them.

Both systems similar and yet different existed in diverse parts of the world engulfed by turmoil created an impact in history that is still felt in the present.

Living as one of the smaller Middle Eastern groups the Semitic people known as the Hebrews recognized themselves as distinctive from all others of their time by the belief and followings for one omnipotent God. Their entire way of life and integrity was affected by this.

“By 1100 B.C.E. the Jews began to emerge as a people with a self-conscious culture and some political identity.”

The Hebrew followed the laws of the Torah which reflected the will of their God. The laws guided the Jews to be fair and compassionate in action:

“Should you come upon your enemy’s ox or donkey straying, you must take it back to him.”

It guided them by simple commandments and rules designed to better a follower independent of the rule of another man. Many of the commandments emphasized a position of humility and honesty for one to follow.

“Do not give false evidence against you neighbour.”

“Do not covet your neighbour’s household: you must not covet your neighbour’s wife, his slave, his slave-girl, his ox, his donkey, or anything else that belongs to him…”

Those that followed the commandments were to set the example and encourage others to live righteous. This almost parallels the teaching of Confucius in the sense of the good man, “Who in intercourse with friends is true to his word.”

This basic aspect towards lying displayed a strong relationship between the teachings of both systems with their differences being between their targeted followers. For the Jews this ‘gentlemen’ type action made one closer to true divinity while for the Confucian the wisdom surrounding the concept of the quote was taken as that of almost a religion.

Each group used the vanity of their teachings to establish a bias for their followers. This bias acted as an award and benefit for those that conform to the knowledge and wisdom offered. The Confucian system of morality delivered the appearance that the basic peasant had a chance to obtain the higher levels of government by educating himself, “Thus, superior men were made, not born.”

The reality was that most of the ‘superior’ men were from the only groups that could afford the schooling and education needed to move up in the social and economic stratification established. This expression for the Confucian follower made them separate from other educated individuals because they were not only educated, but socially humble with a desire to influence others by living in the ways of the true ‘gentlemen.’

This was power that previously could not have been attained except by birth. It highlighted the failings of the current government of the time by defining the difference between modesty and arrogance in respect to the leadership of the people. The aspiring bureaucrats used this Confucian system of morals as their tool back to the upper echelons of power over the people.

“According to Confucius, the superior or educated man was a person of courage who made decisions on his own and then defended them no matter how strong the opposition.”

The Jewish religion offered guidance for all humans while reaffirming the special pact between God and the Hebrews.

While all humans could receive the divine blessings of God, the Jews were favored above all; this aspect moved them up in religious stratification. This was attained by birth right and religious practice. The humbleness of their teachings highlighted the failings of the current religions of the time by defining the difference between modesty and arrogance in respect to the leadership of their people.

“Ultimately all people would be led to God. But God’s special pact with the Jews, and little premium was placed on missionary activity or converting others to the faith.”

Confucians recruited many followers from the teachings. The Jewish religion’s growth was small yet enduring. Confucians focused on social change and government leadership over all of the people. The Jews centered on spiritual growth and divinity amongst their own. The Confucian system of morals asserted itself as a way of life and not a religion. The Hebrew system of morality asserted itself as a religion dictating a way of life. Both paths have demonstrated strong similarities and distinct differences in their scopes of influence. Both systems successfully masked the vanity of their overall teachings by advancement of their messages catering to the betterment of the individual that sought to learn; while they displayed their bias by self positioning themselves as the humble example to be followed.