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John Nelson October 20 2000 Religious Studies 10 Prof Carr Confucianism as a Religion How does one define religion What characteristics does a view need to have in order to be considered a religion Questions similar to these have been asked many times and no concrete answer has been universally accepted Some characteristics have been found common in most world religions an afterlife a notion of sacred rules or guides for behavior ie how to lead a good life and almost universally an explanation or rationalization for death There is a debate nevertheless on whether Confucianism should be considered one of the worlds religions Confucianism lacks significant explanation of either death or an afterlife and is behaviorally hard to distinguish from a mere ethical institution It is possible that some of these shortcomings in the Confucian viewpoint can be explained and perhaps a better understanding of religion may be gained in the process The criticism that a given religion must have some notion of salvation is ambiguous if not unwarranted The Christian sense of the term salvation deals generally with deliverance from sin and the effects of sin Definitions like this cannot be applied cross-culturally because many of the worlds religions have no notion of sin yet they are still considered religions It seems necessary to modify the definition of sin to fit a broader range of religions salvation as a way or means to lead the full good life appears to satisfy this If this is the case it would seem that Mencius does describe how one can achieve salvation Mencius said Benevolence means man When these are conjoined the result is the Way Mencius 197 The Way is the term for the general pattern or order in the universe One who lives his life according to the Way is said to be a gentleman or the normative ideal for a human being Humans according to Mencius are also born
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