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Confucius: Philosophy and Human Purpose

Jeffrey L. Richey is the Francis Alexander McGaw Chair in Religion & Professor of Religion and Asian Studies at Berea College in Kentucky. In this Berkshire Bookworld podcast, “Confucius: Philosophy and Human Purpose,” he introduces Confucius, the most influential person who may never have lived, putting him in historical content and explaining his importance to Chinese thinking and to China today.  Jeff contributed the essay on Confucius to the Berkshire Dictionary of Chinese Biography. Here, he discusses the concept of the dao, or “Way,” the Mandate of Heaven, and Confucian ethics and ideas about self-cultivation and moral purpose. One of Jeff’s comments in the podcast is that in Confucian thinking, “fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly, and humans have to become moral.” He explains that Confucius is one of the three great lawgivers whose statues stand in the US Supreme Court, and concludes with an explanation of how his 21st-century students can relate to Warring Period during which Confucius lived, a time of change and turmoil. Length: 27 minutes.

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Read an Association of Asian Studies member profile of Dr. Richey.

Karen ChristensenKaren Christensen is the Chief Executive Officer and founder of Berkshire Publishing Group and a writer specializing in sustainability and community with a focus on China. One of her current projects is with George R. Goethals and Crystal L. Hoyt of the Jepson School of Leadership Studies at the University of Richmond. They are coediting Women and Leadership: History, Concepts, and Case Studies (A Berkshire Essential), and Christensen has ensured that there coverage of China and other parts of the world, including articles on Wu Zetian and Cixi drawn from the Berkshire Dictionary of Chinese Biography.

One thought on “Confucius: Philosophy and Human Purpose

  1. In the Supreme Court of the State of Minnesota, there is also a frieze of Confucius on the ceiling along with other law givers. This engraving was made in the early 1900s. Based on my research, few of the litigants or even judges are aware of the meaning of this image.

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