Saturday, June 14, 2014
354. American Revolution, a Moral Revolution and Confucius
The American Revolution was a political revolution which marked the birth of the United States as a new nation. However, it was also simultaneously a moral revolution. While the founders were concerned with preserving their civil liberties and economic freedom through their stance, “no taxation without representation,” they were also concerned with public morality. They fully understood that the war was as much a battle against “the corruption of 18th century British high society” as it was against financial oppression. As a result, the founding fathers were determined to construct new virtues responding to the needs of the new nation. Having seen the results of the moral corruption in the old world, the founders worked diligently to use all valuable moral resources available for them to create virtues for the new nation.
Public virtue was regarded as a foundation of freedom. Private virtue was considered the most important element of the public virtue. Private virtue meant being a person of integrity; such qualities essential to private virtue included being honest in one’s dealings with others, being faithful in one’s duties to one’s family, and controlling one’s appetites. The qualities that private virtue emphasized could be found in the values that Confucius promoted. For instances, one of the main tenets of Confucian moral philosophy was a positive passion for the public good and public interest.