Confucius Five relationships

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Confucianism is the ethical system of Confucius, emphasizing moral order, the humanity and virtue of China's ancient rulers, and gentlemanly education. And one large aspect of this system is a plan for right living This plan lays out a structured society based on five human relationships.

In the first four of these relationships there is a defined superior and inferior, but the superior is always listed first.

Father to Son also known as filial piety

This relationship is by far the core of the five. This relationship is justified by the superior being taking responsibility for the son with their superior collection of knowledge and wisdom. In this relationship the son must be completely obedient and respectful to his father.

Elder Brother to Younger Brother also know as fraternal piety

The younger brother is to be obedient and respectful to his older brother. The older brother takes much of the same responsibilities as the father as he strives to teach younger brother in the same ways his father has taught him, while maintaining a good example. The younger brother must do nothing to bring shame to his family.

Husband to wife also know as matrimonial piety

The wife has the responsibility of not bringing shame to the family similarly to the role of the younger brother. The husband on the other hand has the duty to honor his wife as he instructs her. The husband must also provide a living for his family.

Emperor to subject also know as civic piety

The Emperor gains his power through heredity and military victory, but can only maintain that power as long as he is fulfilling the Will of Heaven, bringing prosperity, safety, and cultural excellence to his realm.

The last of the five relationships differs from the first in which it is a mutual relationship as opposed to a relationship between a superior and a inferior.

Friend to Friend also know as mutual piety

The relationship of friends is a mutual respect, one which one becomes worthy of by being worthy of learning the Classics and showing the incorporation of Confucian ideals through their thought and actions.


Manual page 182

~Frances Hellums~