Archaic republican values and Confucianism

Essay, 2008

5 Pages, Grade: 1


Archaic republican values and Confucianism

The teachings of Confucius had a great impact on ancient societies and are still today recommended to provide universal virtues. In general, four principles are brought up by describing the ethic-political teaching of Confucius that also led to follow the Way (tao): loyalty, conduct, culture, and good faith (Confucius, 7.24). To Confucius, the proper behaviours of every single individual, of every community, and therefore of every ruler are important to provide structure and clarity in a strong state. With today’s American presidential election, the expression of the ancient, but still relevant, principles in the candidate’s political rhetoric can be questioned. Therefore, the recently announced vice-presidential candidate, Sarah Palin, and her acceptance speech on Sept. 3th, 2008 are going to be analyzed. Values brought up in her speech will be compared to background information and Confucius’ teachings to discover what kind of society they sprang of and how they match with the philosophical requirements towards a governmental office. Are the traditional values Palin presents the same as those the ancient philosopher has in mind for an appropriate ruler?

The first value is zhong, loyalty. To Confucius, respect toward ruler and ministers outside, as well as toward parents and elders inside the family (Confucius, 9.16), is very important in order to establish a clear hierarchy. Societies like that provide a simple structure that fights uncertainty in behaviour. Instead of elders and parents, Sarah Palin mentions her husband first.[1] To her “[…] he is still the man that I admire most in this world.” (Palin, 2008, p. 1)[2] Therefore, she demonstrates a mixed up hierarchy, and a lack of proper loyalty and respect in Confucius understanding, which is for him fundamental to keep the social order.

The second obligatory value is described as culture. In Confucius’ teachings education is a major aspect and understood as a component of culture. The philosopher even provides a hierarchy for people measured on the degree of knowledge. Ambitious students are highly ranked. “Next again come those who turn to study after having been vexed by difficulties.” (Confucius, A 16.9) Also he says : “If there is education there are no class-distinctions.” (Confucius, 15.38) Therefore, to be a good ruler education is necessary to be able to deal with difficulties. Unlike past vice-presidential candidates, Sarah Palin didn’t attend reputable universities, but had to transfer to up to five colleges to get a masters degree (“Angriff der Außenseiter”, 09/08/08, p. 126, 1). Because of her rather short career, some people don’t have faith in her political experience. Aware of people questioning her qualifications to run for office, she responded in the following way: “I'm not going to Washington to seek their good opinion - I'm going to Washington to serve the people of this country.” (Palin, 2008, p. 2) She even excluded herself from being part of the governmental elite.[3] The value she presented instead was loyalty to the common people since she considers herself to be one of them.[4] This attitude is, in Confucius understanding, not enough to succeed the challenges of ruling. On the other hand, Palin stood up for radical religious beliefs in the education system, expressed in her denial of the evolution theory and the attempt to ban sex education from the school schedule (“Angriff der Außenseiter”, 09/08/08, p. 126,2). Consequently, she tried in her former position as mayor of her hometown and governor of Alaska to ban books from the library and even fired a woman working at the library that wouldn’t follow. Palin said her political motivation was based on these changes (Palin, 2008, p. 2). This is totally opposite to expected behaviour by Confucius. He claims that different points of view are always interesting to consider. (Confucius, 7.21) Palin showed an inflexible and egotistical attitude, which is not understood to be part of the Way by Confucius. (Confucius, 9.16)


[1] “First, there are a few people whom I would like you to meet. I want to start with my husband, Todd.” (Palin, 2008, p. 1)

[2] Sarah Palin Makes History as First Female Vice Presidential Nominee of Republican Party. GOP Candidate's Acceptance Speech Defends Experience, Targets Barack Obama, September 3, 2008 Retrieved September 14, 208 from

[3] “And I've learned quickly, these past few days, that if you're not a member in good standing of the Washington elite, then some in the media consider a candidate unqualified for that reason alone.“ (Palin, 2008, p. 2)

[4] “I was just your average hockey mom […]” (Palin, 2008, p. 2)

Excerpt out of 5 pages


Archaic republican values and Confucianism
Muhlenberg College
Introduction to Traditional Japan
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ISBN (eBook)
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340 KB
Sarah Palin, and her acceptance speech on Sept. 3th, 2008 are going to be compared to Confucius’ teachings.
Sarah Palin, Confucius, America, presidential election, 2008
Quote paper
Kati Neubauer (Author), 2008, Archaic republican values and Confucianism, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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