Thursday, April 16, 2015

389. Nicholas Kristof and John Adams Wisdom

In his Op-Ed article, Starving for Wisdom, The New York Times, April 16, 2015, Mr. Nicholas Kristof quoted John Adams, " “I must study Politicks and War that my sons may have liberty to study Mathematicks and Philosophy. My sons ought to study Mathematicks and Philosophy, Geography, natural History and Naval Architecture, navigation, Commerce and Agriculture, in order to give their Children a right to study Painting, Poetry, Musick, Architecture, Statuary, Tapestry and Porcelaine.” (John Adam's letter to Abigail in 1780).

Mr. Kristof called for educators to pay more attention to humanity. I totally agree with his opinion.

To his strong arguments what I want to add is that John Adam's wisdom was beyond the humanity. Adams wanted moral education to the younger generation. In Dr. Dave Wang's paper, CONFUCIUSIN THE AMERICAN FOUNDING:  THE FOUNDERS’EFFORTS TO USE CONFUCIAN MORAL PHILOSOPHY IN THEIR ENDEAVOR TO CREATE NEWVIRTUE FOR THE NEW NATION (Virginia Review of Asian Studies, vol. 16 (2014), readers will find John Adam's efforts to advance virtue.

For John Adams, the purpose of government is to allow the pursuit of happiness. Such happiness lies not merely in “ease, comfort, [and] security,” but also characteristics such as virtue, humility, industry, and goodwill. Adams confidently declares “Confucius… agreed in this” goal of happiness through virtue. Adams also realized that virtue ennobled individual character and lifted the entire society. Adams’ statement conveys the significance of virtue for a good government and the significance of Confucius's moral philosophy in Adams’ own efforts to bring up “the minds of the people.” John Adam showed his high regard for Confucian virtues and believed that any good Americans should possess these traits. In a letter to Thomas Jefferson, Adams criticized the English theologian and natural philosopher Joseph Priestley for ignoring Confucius in his writing: "Priestley ought to have given us a sketch of the religion and morals of Zoroaster, of Sanchoniathon, of Confucius, and all the founders of religions before Christ, whose superiority would, from such a comparison, have appeared the more transcendent."

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