Saturday, March 19, 2011

Confucius: Judge not ...

"The Master said, 'Do not concern yourself with matters of government unless they are the responsibility of your office.' Tzeng Tzu commented, 'The gentleman does not allow his thoughts to go beyond his office.'" - Analects, XIV.26

"Tzu-kung was given to grading people. The Master said, 'How superior Tzu is! For my part I have no time for such things.'" - XIV.29

I am surprised again with the similarity of the famous instruction from Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount:

"Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." - Matthew 7:1-2

Looking at the two passages, they are similar in the command and intention: We should avoid judging, but in fact we must judge to some extent. Caution is required, and hopefully we will not judge beyond the obligations of our position.

The difference that jumps out is the reason for avoiding judging. Confucius says he doesn't have time. Yeah, right. Jesus explains that we will be judged as we have judged, which is quite scary.

Fast forwarding to today, I am thinking of our populist democracy where we are encouraged to make knee-jerk judgments about everything based on the flimsiest of hearsay. Can this be reconciled with either Confucius or Christianity? The other thing I wonder about is whether someone who has never attempted to make a judgment can suddenly make proper judgments when they are put into an office where such decisions are mandatory.


tikno said...

I see some of your posts was about Confucius philosophy compared to Christianity teaching. Considering the teachings of Confucius existed long before Christianity, whether it can be mean that a few of Christianity teaching take the approach of Confucian teachings?

I think... never attempt to make a judgment does not mean cannot make proper judgments. That is just a matter of willingness (act to judge), not because of cannot judge.

Looney said...

Certainly Confucius lived centuries before the new testament, but there are several complications to assert a link. Nothing can be documented, so speculation is all we can do.