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School of Public Affairs and Governance

Silliman University
Dumaguete City

Thought Leader

_____________________
In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements
in PA 33-A Ancient Chinese Philosophy of Strategic Governance
_____________________

A Written Report
on
CONFUCIUS TEACHINGS IN APPLICATION TO STRATEGIC GOVERNANCE

By:

KIEFER JOHN V. SAGA


Student

Submitted To:

Reynaldo Y. Rivera
Adviser
SPAG Dean

September 2012
I BRIEF SUMMARY OF CONFUCIUS
CONFUCIUS, the great Chinese sage, was born June 19th, 551 B.C. at Shang-ping, in
the country of Lu. His own name was Kong, but his disciples called him Kong-fu-tse. His father
died when Confucius was only three years of age, but he was very carefully brought up by his
mother, Yan-she, and from his earliest years, displayed an extraordinary love of learning, and
veneration for the ancient laws of his country. When only 19 Confucius married, but divorced his
wife four years after marriage that he might have more lime for study and the performance of his
public duties. The death of his mother, which occurred in his 23rd year, gave occasion to the
first solemn and important act of Confucius as a moral reformer. The solemnity and splendour of
the burial ceremony with which he honoured her remains, struck his fellow citizens with
astonishment, and they determined for the future to bury their dead with the ancient honours.
Their example was followed by the neighbouring states, and the whole nation, except the
poorest class. Confucius did not end here. He shut himself up in his house to pass in solitude
the three years of mourning for his mother, the whole of which time he dedicated to
philosophical study. He reflected deeply on the eternal laws of morality, traced them to their
source, imbued his mind with a sense of the duties they impose indiscriminately on all men, and
determined to make them the immutable rule of all his actions. Henceforth his career is only an
illustration of his ethical system. He commenced to instruct his countrymen in the precepts of
morality, exhibiting in his own person all the virtues he inculcated in others. Gradually his
disciples increased, as the practical character of his philosophy became more apparent. His
disqiples generally were not the young and enthusiastic, but men of middle age, sober, grave,
respectable, and occupying important public situations. This fact throws light both on the

character and design of his philosophy. It was moral, not religious, and aimed exclusively at
fitting men for conducting themselves honourably and prudently in this life.

Confucius travelled through various states, in some of which he was well received, while
in others he was not much appreciated. His later wanderings were very unpropitious: state after
state refused to be improved. He was in some instances persecuted; once he was imprisoned
and nearly starved, and finally seeing no hope of securing the favourable attention of the mass
of his countrymen while alive, he returned in extreme poverty to his native state, and spent his
last years in the composition of literary works, by which posterity at least might be instructed.
The record of Confucius lifelong activities shows just three major elements: service in
government, teaching, and compiling texts. His life in government was of the briefest duration
with the two objectives: the first was to transform commoners who possessed neither virtue nor
official position into superior men who possessed virtue but might lack a position; the second
was to assure that virtuous gentlemen lacking position would become superior men who
possessed both virtue and position. Confucius intent was to raise commoners to an equal
footing with the way of the former kings, hence it regarded the feudal political institutions and
clan-law society as necessary conditions for the successful realization of that way. Confucius
was a great political thinker but a failure as a political reformer. His stature is greater than that of
Yao and Shun because even though he lacked the position that Yao and Shun had acquired he
was able to establish a body of teachings the likes of which Yao and Shun never attained. On
the later era, those people in authority have preserved terms such as benevolence and
righteousness, but ignored their feudal age implications.

Although amidst his challenging life, Confucius decided to follow the truth by which it
became his basis in political thought, to follow the Chou. From this it would seem to be beyond
doubt that Confucius held up the political institutions of Chou as his standard and model
because also of the fact that he grew up in the state which is the centre of the old Chou culture.

Moreover, by his following in the political thought of Chou, he also proposed for carrying out the
rectification of names. Meaning, to readjust the powers and duties of the ruler and minister,
superior and inferior, according to the institution the institution of the Chou feudal worlds most
flourishing period.

Within the Chou institutional system, Confucius discovered and far reaching significance
and purpose; consequently the institutions of the rulers of his age tended to be regarded as
transcending the age, and therein becoming idealized. Through which the heart of his discovery
was jen or benevolence.1.) Jen, Confucius considered benevolence as something people
cultivate within themselves before it can affect their relations with others. The best way to
approach benevolence is in terms of enlightened self-interest, which is, putting the self in the
position of the other and then treating the other accordingly. It is dearer than life itself--the man
of jen will sacrifice his life to preserve jen, and conversely it is what makes life worth living. Jen
is a sense for the dignity of human life--a feeling of humanity towards others and self-esteem for
yourself. 2.) Yi, Confucius ponders the people to practice and embrace to be a righteous man,
meaning to be morally upright. Yi connotes a moral sense: the ability to recognize what is right
and good; the ability to feel, under the circumstances in what is the right thing to do. Moreover,
Confucius explains that some actions ought to be performed for the sole reason that they are
right--regardless of what they produce; not for the sake of something else. The value in the act
is the rightness of the action regardless of the intention or the consequences of the act. 3.) Li,
Confucius elaborates that it is one of the greatest principle to live in, the act of social propriety.
He believes that it is a concrete guide to human relationships or rules of proper action that
genuinely embody jen and as a tool in social order or the general ordering of life. When society
lives by li it moves smoothly. Confucius saw the embodiment of this society in the idealized form
of feudalistic government, illustrated by the Five Relationships: kindness in the father, filial piety
in the son; gentility in the eldest brother, humility and respect in the younger; righteousness

behaviour in the husband, obedience in the wife; humane consideration in elders, deference in
juniors; benevolence in rulers, loyalty in ministers and subjects. Li may also refer to the middle
way in all things. Confucius recognized that you need a well ordered society for wren to be
expressed. 4.) Chi, Confucius contemplates moral wisdom; the source of this virtue is
knowledge of right and wrong. The use of Chi suggests a relation between internal and external
self. The emphasis on the act of knowing suggests the degree to which the paradigms of virtue
from the sagely rulers are inculcated or acquired. Confucius explains that rather than being a
static body of knowledge, it dwells in a process of experiencing. Thus, it is a part of the
changing individual towards himself and to others.

Confucius also expounds his life in the field of governing guided by his principles to
nourish, to teach and to govern; Confucius believes that government should be able to inculcate
things in the right way before he can lead the people. One must have the tool of personal virtue,
which he classifies as necessary to be able to transform values of people into good. Confucius
taught of how one is to govern themselves, and how the state is to govern society. The ways of
governing can be seen in the traditions of forefathers. By returning to these, society can be
virtuous and harmonious. Government is seen as a tool to help bring out the best of its people.
Confucius saw it as responsible for the well-being of its citizens but insists that they not forget
their individual roles themselves. In order to properly carry out its role, government must be
looked upon by its people for leadership and be respected. It must not lose the faith of its
people.

Confucius explains that, a superior man doesn't seek to satisfy his appetites or pursue a
comfortable life. Instead, he works industriously, chooses his words carefully, and looks for the
virtuous and talented to point out his mistakes. Those who know him say he is diligent in the
pursuit of knowledge. The superior man stands in awe of three things: He stands in awe of the
ordinances of Heaven. He stands in awe of great men. He stands in awe of the words of the

sages. The inferior man doesn't know the ordinances of Heaven, and consequently he doesn't
revere them. He is disrespectful of great men, and he makes sport of the words of the saints.

II - APPLICATION TO STRATEGIC GOVERNANCE IN PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION

Confucius' political philosophy is rooted in his belief that a ruler should learn selfdiscipline, should govern his subjects by nice means and treat them with love and
concern.Therefore, Confuciuss education of political teaching also involves the teaching
method of role modelling and reputation ruling. Since Confucius believed that politics is only the
extension of morals, provide that the ruler is compassionate to people, the government will
naturally work on peaceful and smooth track. To Confucius, the best politics exist in good
virtues, setting role models in morality and personality will thus pave the way for governing and
politicizing.At the same time, good politics come from good reputations, if a government enjoys
good reputation among the general public, people from all over the world may turn to and
accept the governance of his ruling. Confucius teaching in political field, has a huge contribution
towards modern era of governance, because a lot of people in authority have lost their ropes in
binding people and government relationship.

When asked about good government, Confucius replied that its requisites are: it must be
able to provide: (1) sufficiency of food, (2) sufficiency of military equipment, and (3) it must have
the confidence of the people. He was then asked: "If it cannot be helped, and one of these must
be dispensed with, which of the three should be foregone first?""The military equipment," said
Confucius.The next question was more difficult: "If it cannot be helped, and one of the remaining
two must be dispensed with, which of them should be foregone?"After serious thought,
Confucius answered: "Part with the food. From of old, death has been the lot of men; but if the
people have no faith in their rulers, there is no standing for the state."

The wisdom of Confucius speaks for themselves. More than economic prosperity, more
than military might, government needs the trust of the people in order to govern effectively.The
political history of our nation recall the first and second EDSA Revolutions is testaments to
the lesson that governments that forfeit the trust of the people have unhappy exits.The wisdom
of Confucius is never ending. For Confucius, what determines superior leadership is the
possession of virtue.Virtue is the power that enables one to win a following without recourse to
physical force; such virtue also enables the ruler to maintain good order in his state without
troubling himself and by relying on loyal and effective deputies. Confucius explains that "He who
governs by means of his virtue is, to use an analogy, like the pole-star: it remains in its place
while all the lesser stars do homage to it." Stated otherwise, a government that is virtuous is as
stable as the Polaris, which stands almost motionless in the sky, with all the stars of the
northern sky appearing to rotate around it.
Confucius philosophy is also rooted in the principle that a ruler should learn selfdiscipline and should govern his subjects by his own example. He stressed: "If your desire is for
good, the people will be good. The moral character of the ruler is the wind; the moral character
of those beneath him is the grass. When the wind blows, the grass bends." There is thus an
unbending obligation on the part of those who lead government to provide its moral ballast. A
government that is morally fragile cannot withstand the evils that will buffet it. To be sure, a
government afflicted with moral leprosy deserves nothing but the graveyard. We need leaders
with moral character. History tells us that people will forgive leaders for lapses in ability but will
not forgive those who slip in character. Character is who we are when no one is
watching.Confucius also tells us that to be leaders, you must love the people as if they were
your own children. He advised that the first thing a leader should do for the people is to improve
their circumstances: to nourish and enrich them and pull them out of poverty. Indeed, it is hard
to instil peace and bring progress to any country crawling with roofless, shirtless and shoeless

people. When a person is impoverished, you cannot establish the rule of law. The poor who are
bothered by the rumblings of their stomach, morning, noon and night, do not care about the
secret of the rule of law. Their only interest is to break their shackles of poverty for the only
freedom they care for is freedom from want.The second task of a leader, says Confucius, is to
educate the people, teach the people to cherish their right, to value righteousness and transform
a nations culture. Hence, a leader must teach the people as if they were a new generation, and
he must work to establish their distinct sense of identity. A leader must always be willing to
promote innovative changes that go against outmoded traditions. We should not be shackled by
the past that petrifies. In life, there is nothing constant but change. They who cannot think out of
the box will soon just be archaeological curiosities.
In order to lead, it is also important for a leader to be fair so that all people are given
equal consideration and so that no one is looked down upon as inferior. This is why Confucius
warns those in power that they should not oppress or take for granted even the lowliest of their
subjects. "You may rob the Three Armies of their commander," said Confucius, "but you cannot
deprive the humblest peasant of his opinion." If this doesnt happen, a leaders audience will
fragment into separate pieces and he will no longer lead a whole.It is well to note that this last
counsel of Confucius is a successful strategy not just in government, but also in business. Great
leaders accord everyone equal respect and honour; a supreme leader treats others with equal
consideration, as if they were all important guests. When leaders treat everyone fairly and value
their input and presence, they will readily acquire the necessary influence to be able to steer
their organization to new directions.
Confucius contribution to good governance, however, may be found less in his political
philosophy, but more in his ethical teachings. It lies on his emphasis on the ethical responsibility
of leaders who can influence the people they relate to and can effect changes in society. Human
beings, says Confucius, are ethically responsible for their actions and especially for their

treatment of others. He stressed that we can do little or nothing, to alter our fated span of
existence but we determine what we accomplish and what we are remembered for by our
ethical existence. The ultimate purpose behind all this is firmed with what Confucius said that
part of the great learning involved in becoming an adult is to be able to show your love for the
people. This love is shown by cultivating personal behaviour, by taking responsibility for ones
own actions, and by taking definite steps to bring peace and harmony to society. This is the
purpose of the enlightened leader.

Confucius, since he lived in a war-torn society, was largely concerned with improving
government and society. He was convinced that the problem with government and society was
a lack of virtue. Confucius was basically a politician of his day, but one that attracted a large
following of disciples, people that learned from him. He travelled from court to court offering his
services, and despite the assistance that he gave, he never actually held any high position or
office, but we can still today see his governmental strategies. It appears that Confucius wanted
a type of harmony with the governing body, most likely an individual, and those governed.
Confucius lived during the time and sought for an understandable and righteous way.
An emperor would rule, and his rule would be established through benevolence and virtue. Even
though laws could be instituted and punishments for breaking each said law would be enforced,
the only true way for people to follow what was good was to see that their leader was good. In
other words, Confucius taught that rulers should lead by example, and this was the only way.
Not only would the Emperor need to be virtuous, but every post in the bureaucracy, military, and
any other that an emperor could promote too and from would be based on virtue and
righteousness. This would enable the class being ruled to see that all of their leaders were
benevolent and upright, and they would want to return the favour for their emperor or
statesmen.But he also was a strong advocate that the state was the most important thing of
all.Among the uncountable consulting from both his disciples and officials, examples are

frequently provided to the people, in a good way to convey his interpretations of good politics
and good government. In some way, the exemplification also features the educational
techniques of Confucius in all his teaching practices relating to political affairs.
Political education is still a necessary requirement for todays politics in the world, no
matter in what form, what kind of attention it receives, or how it struggles its way under changing
circumstances. As in Philippines today, the transforming society is crying for renovating legacies
in political field. One of the biggest battles of our country isthe combat of cultural collisions,
especially the political culture interior and exterior of one type, inside ournation. Even though
cultural wars can be so confusing in disguised, it can always be reduced to the agreement and
concord of morality and political.It is known that politics is not merely politics but a combination
of political personality and ethic practice according to Confucius. Political education, therefore,
will have to bear the spiritual life of wakened political awareness as a principle to any applicable
teaching skills. Anyeducation of political teaching will observe, intentionally or unintentionally,
the social-political and ethical principles.

In the value of Jen thought by Confucius, we can apply this in dealing with true and
sincere service to each and every Filipino towards a stronger bond between the government
and the people. Jen has always been the heart of the values thought by Confucius, because it
emphasizes on the use of heart and not the head. In line with Public Administration, jen must
always be part of our everyday life, that in whatever we do and whatever we will do, feeling the
heart is an eternal trophy you can hold forever. In the value of Yi thought by Confucius, it
speaks about a moral disposition to do what is right. This teaching is an important tool for public
officials to inculcate in them the ability to know what is morally upright. Yi, connotes the capacity
of knowing what is right and what is wrong, and what is the right thing to do. In line with Public
Administration, Yi is an important foundation in good governance because it builds the bridge of
people to trust the government and breaks the walls of ignorance. In the value of Li thought by

Confucius, it is important in the formation of the sense of belongingness between the people
and the government. In public administration, Li is also an important value to be kept because in
service to the people being morally proper is a key to and efficient and effective output. Thus
living in the value of Li, safeguards you to more humanistic and harmonious approach. In the
value of Chi, wisdom guides excellent practices in public service that achieve well-being. In
public administration, Chi is essentially important because it is concerned with community wellbeing. While wisdom can be described and accounted for, it cannot be seen only as a concept
approach but rather as tool in combating good governance. These values thought by Confucius,
are all important aspect to which public servants should consider in their entrance towards a
more competitive world.Superior man thought by Confucius should be revitalize in this modern
era, not in the sense of perfect person but rather a person living in a perfect virtue. In Public
Administration, Superior man should be a guide, necessarily due to the fact that it deals with the
public, and public is diverse and because it is diverse only a superior man with the heart to
nourish, to teach and to govern can be qualified.
He who exercises government by means of his virtue may be compared to the north polar star,
which keeps its place and all the stars turn towards it."

Confucius, The Analects 2.3

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of New York Press (1987).
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Tan, S. (2003). Confucian democracy; a Deweyan reconstruction, Albany: State
University of New York
Confucius, The Analects of Confucius, BiblioBazaar,LLC.(2008)
Wilson, E. (1982). The Wisdom of Confucius, New York: Avenel Books.
Yang, H. (1999). Confucius: KungTzu. Paris, France: Published by UNESCO International
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