Filial Piety in Confucian Society

4 April 2015
An examination of the concept of filial piety and obedience to one’s parents and superiors as it relates to Confucian society.

This paper analyzes filial piety,which has been one of the most important factors in defining Chinese culture and relationships, throughout Chinese history. The paper discusses the importance of this concept, the way that it is passed down between generations, and its influence on society. The writer claims that study of this concept and its applications allows for a greater understanding of Chinese culture and philosophy.
In Chinese popular folklore, there are numerous examples of ordinary citizens who have made great sacrifices in order to bring aid to their parents. Children are taught the story of the young boy who allowed mosquitoes to feast on his blood at night so that they would not disrupt his parents’ sleep, or the story of the child who ran for over a hundred miles with loads of rice and provisions on his back to bring to his ailing parents.

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(Brians 172-174) Confucian philosophy holds these concepts of deference and obedience to one’s parents in the highest regard. In fact, one popular Confucian proverb goes: Of the hundred excellent things, filial piety is first. (Qt. in Jordan, pg. 267) This concept of filial piety has had much to do with the way in which the Chinese have traditionally followed their leaders with unquestioning obedience. From the day of Confucius up through modern Chinese times, filial piety has been one of the most important factors in defining Chinese culture and relationships.

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