Monday, November 30, 2015
418. Why The Founders Found Confucian Moral Philosophy Irresistible
In his book, The Idea of America; Reflections on the Birth of the United States, Professor Gorgon S. Wood provided his readers his unique insight on the success of the American Revolution. Through reading of his book, one also will understand more clearly on the founders' introduction of Confucian moral philosophy to the Americans. It shouldn't be regarded as a choice of convenience for the founders' efforts to promote the philosophy in the critical time of the nation.
Professor Wood pointed out correctly, the American revolutionaries' view of the ancient past was very selective. They focused "on the moral and social basis of politics and on social degeneracy and corruption." (p.59) Not only the founders, but the planters also "were voicing a growing sense of impending ruin, whose sources seemed in the minds of many to be linked more and more with the corrupting British connection and Scottish factors but for others frighteningly rooted in 'our Pride, our Luxury and Idleness.'" In addition to the planters, the public in Virginia and other colonies "became obsessed with 'corruption' virtue, and luxury." Therefore, in the eve of the Revolution, the remarkable growth of dissent "suggests some sort of social stress." (p.50)
Naturally, the founders were looking for a kind of moral philosophy to help them build new virtue for the new nation. It was in this vital conjuncture of the US history, Confucian moral philosophy was entrusted the responsibility by the founders to start a new virtue for the liberated Americans.
Dr. Wood's research allows us to understand further on the founding father's efforts to bring Confucian moral philosophy over the Atlantic Ocean to the new nation they created. They saw the need of such a moral philosophy.