Explainthedistinctionbetweensī思(Thinking)Andxué學(Studying, Learning) Thatisdrawninanalects2.15and15.31.Towhatextent(Ifatall)Doestheanalects’ Focus on Learning Mean That We Should Just Follow Tradition, and Not Think Inde- Pendently?
Philosophy and Psychology
Submitted By debtsoi
As for similarity, according to the Analects, thinking and studying attach both great importance. Thinking means we reflecting base on what we have learnt, especially from the ancient great figures. And studying means we absorb new knowledge and virtue. In Analects 2.15, the master tells two negative results in lacking either one of them when learning. This obviously shows they are both indispensable and interlocking. They play different role on learning.
As long as people combine them and utilize them in moderate way, sī and xué can act as Complementarity. In Analects 15.31, the master did something extreme, which is to keep thinking without sleeping and eating, This certainly does not help facilitate learning. No matter from Analects 2.15, which puts sī and xué in theory or from Analects 15.31, which shows a practical application, both reflect we should weigh heavily in studying.
Concerning difference, studying is an external way while thinking is an internal way. As the master says people would not born with knowledge (Analects 7.21). Studying is, without doubt, the prerequisite for learning. In Analects 7.1 the text shows the master stresses on tradition, the antiquity, respecting for the knowledge from ancient sages a lot. Thus having thorough studying is an overriding concern. As for thinking, it acts as catalytic, as well as facilitator for studying. We can liken the learning to a system, then studying is the input and thinking is the process. Having both of them, we can have better outcome such as good ability and new insights which positively feedback our own knowledge. Besides, thinking helps solidify the knowledge and it plays significant role in developing self innovative ideas.
To a small extent Analects’ focus on learning mean that we should just follow tradition and not think independently. Oppositely, the master encourages that people should think more by themselves.
True, the Analects promote and stress studying, as well as following the tradition. However simultaneously it stresses the significance of learning and thinking go together. Thinking has not been get rid of.
Besides, Confucius encouraged students to ask new questions. Even tell them to not be ashamed to ask and learn of his inferiors (Analects 15), which shows that thinking independently and even do something beneficial ashamed, is still of paramount importance. In addition, as for good virtue, Confucius sticks to the great figure in the ancient time, but he, in the meantime, encourages self-cultivation. He tells people turn their thoughts to becoming equal to a better person and examine their own self when they meet someone not good. (Analects 4.17) There is no point to say that Analects discourages thinking independently.
However, to a certain extent Analects becomes the stumbling block to thinking independently. Confucius’ attitude towards tradition is too strong, showing that he regards ‘ancient sages’ as utmost right. He transmits but does not innovate (Analects 7.1) shows how loyal he is to tradition. This would limit the people to think outside of the box, people may think simply follow the Confucius as well as what ancient sages did.
But we still cannot deny that Confucius upholds the value of thinking. Just in that times, their enlightenment mostly is based on the ancient great figures and those are authoritative enough and undeniable. We can still claim that Analects emphasizes on both learning and thinking.