A very important feature of Confucianism entails relationships. Confucius believed that each person had a duty to perform. He instituted these five great relationships so people knew the manner in which they could perform their duties. These relationship duties are practiced by the Chinese even to the present day. Given below are the five great relationships of Confucius.
Relationship between King and Subject. Confucius stressed on the importance of hierarchy while maintaining peace and social order. The King was expected to be compassionate and fair while the subject was expected to be loyal and respectful to the King.
Relationship between Father and Son. Confucius was of the opinion that a special relationship existed in this case. The Father was expected to guide his son while the son was expected to obey and respect his Father’s wishes.
Relationship between Husband and Wife. Confucian belief prescribed passive social roles for women. Confucius felt that women should stay at home and decisions when taken by the wife should be guided by the husband. Further he stated that a wife should be completely loyal to her husband and the husband should be caring and loving towards the wife.
Relationship with Elders. Confucius believed that the young should always respect elders and he believed that a person who would maintain a respectful relationship with all elders would be a virtuous person. Further the elders should love and guide the younger people.
Relationship between Friends. Confucianism expected cooperation among all people without regard to age and standing. It expected friends to have mutual trust and respect for each other. This belief may have been instituted by Confucius to prevent the rise of individualism and to ensure collective harmony. (Ames, 1998)
These are the five great relationships of Confucius. It should be noted that all of the above except the last relationship bears authority of one person over another.
Ames, R. and H. Rosemont. (1998). The Analects of Confucius: A philosophical translation. New York: Ballantine