Saturday, February 25, 2012

251. Franklin and Confucius' Way of Social Promotion

Confucius pointed out that it was very important for kings to behave themselves well in their court and family because their actions are certainly imitated. During the founding era of the United States, Benjamin Franklin, among others, worked hard to promote this important principle. In the wake of their independence from Britain, some revolutionary veterans “thought it proper to distinguish themselves and their posterity from their fellow citizens.”

They wanted to “form an order of hereditary knights.” Franklin raised objections to this idea by using the Confucian principle of social promotion. He told his fellow Americans, “Thus among the Chinese, the most ancient, and, from long Experience, the wisest of Nations, Honour does not descend but ascends. If a Man from his Learning, his Wisdom or his Valour, is promoted by the Emperor to the Rank of Mandarin, his Parents are immediately intitled to all the same Ceremonies of Respect from the People, that are establish’d as due to the Mandarin himself; on this Supposition, that it must have been owing to the Education.

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