Comparison between the Confucian and Aristotle Teachings

To begin with, Confucius defines societal relationships five cornerstones namely; ruler and subject; husband and wife; father and son; elder brother and younger brother and finally between friend and a friend. Unlike Aristotle, Confucius viewed human beings as players in social network’s context instead of individuals. He is very categorical in his way of thinking as he gives five relationships which are essential, three of which are relationships within the family, thus puts emphasis on the family unit’ superiority in the traditional society of China and way of thinking of Confucius. The family unit in Ancient China served governmental function which was Quasi. The family according to Confucius gave a social welfare system that is complete for the magistrate through demanding of a filial piety as a good son’s characteristic.According to (Ivanhoe et al, 1963),due to the fact that there exists a predominance of family relationship’s importance in the arrangement by Confucius has also been used to back up the suggestion that individuality concept does not exist in the Confucian system. With the in-depth explanation given by Confucius on the subject matter, this is just a narrow view of this discussion as for a proper functioning of these relationships to function well, ever there has to be a complete a complete moral action by each individual participant right from the family unit up to the state level that carries his/her full responsibility share as reciprocity is necessary in all types of relationships. Unlike Confucius, Aristotle does not emphasize on the necessity of reciprocity in all forms of relationships. He gives an example that the minister’s responsibility is not mindless, mechanical conformist; however the responsibility of individual citizen to cultivate his moral independence and conscience is (Santoni & Somerville, 1963).

Another aspect of this view of family relationships is that the ruler and minister’s mutual obligation was earlier on to adhere to right, and consider the end relationship if there cannot be an agreement on that which is right as principle is what is attached to undying, not individuals ,according to this doctrine. In Confucian’s view, there is another Chinese family life’s feature that is in support of this interpretation which is; the early Pre- Qing Chinese Society, women status according to Confucius placed more value of individuality than the state unlike in Aristotle’s doctrine. Further, Confucianism is neither monolithic nor static, neither is woman’s role in China monolithic or static. For instance, Confucius backed up his day’s traditional thinking that supported the four virtues that were womanly namely; proper speech, morality, diligent work and modest manner. According to critics, this way of thinking led to a creation and justification of generations of oppression and subjection of females. Confucius views man as more of a social being rather than an independent agent. His arguments were used in the Twentieth century is supporting government reforms as well as used in fighting for the governments stabilization. In Contrast Aristotle’s teachings were never used for the same purpose as discussed below (Ivanhoe et al, 2001).


Unlike in the Confucian philosophy, Aristotle argues that the family or household’s relationship to the state is among the most important crucial questions of social teaching by Catholic and political philosophy. In his brief definition of the family, the state and how both are related, he defines the family as nature’s established association for the supply of every day’s wants for man. He goes further to say that when several families are united or join together, and the association’s objective is something more than just the supply of daily basic needs, village is the best society to be formed. The manner in which Aristotle breaks systematically breaks down the states segments down to the basic unit which is the family is different from Confucian’s approach on the same relationship. For two or more people living together to qualify to be called a family, a union must be there for those who cannot exist without each other, more male and female, that there may be continuation of the race. This union is not formed deliberately, but due to the fact that mankind, just like other animals and with plants, have a natural desire to leave their image behind, and of natural subject and ruler, that both may be preserved (Santoni & Somerville, 1963).

Right from the village level, several villages’ unity is ensured in a single community, which is large enough to be close or even suffices itself. It is at this level where the state comes in, coming from life’s bare needs and goes ahead to exist for good life’s sake. Therefore, if society’s earlier forms prove to be natural, likewise is the state, for it marks its end and a thing’s nature is its end as Aristotle argues. Aristotle goes ahead to state that naturally, the state comes before the family and the individual since the entire is very necessary before the part; for instance, if the entire body is destroyed, no foot or hand exists, only in cases of sense that Is equivocal, as mankind can talk of a stone hand because upon its destruction, the hand could be not any better than that. Definition of things is done by both their working and power. People can therefore not say that these two are the same when there proper quality is no longer there, but only that they have a similar name. For further relation, this philosopher explains that there is a proof that the state can be compared to a creation of nature and prior to the individual is that when he is isolated, he ceases to be self-sufficing, therefore becomes like a portion of the whole. However, this exposition that gives the relationship between the family and the state puts the reader in a state of soliloquy. These include the issue of whether it is the family or the state which should be prioritized (Santoni & Somerville, 1963).

Back to the household, Aristotle discusses on the relationship between husband and wife. An ideal marriage is said to be one based on a good friendship. Aristotle makes his stance that the husband-wife relationship does not qualify to be a most ideal and highest level of friendship. According to his schema, in (Ivanhoe et al, 2001), Aristotle explains on the inequality that exists between husband and wife based on property ownership, opportunity availability, access to and control of resources as well as different reproductive and productive roles.He further argues that wife and the husband do not give similar things to each other.

In his other works, such as Book VIII of the             Ethics, Aristotle first compares the husband-wife relationship to a form of political rule unlike Confucius who does not go into such details. He likens marriage to different form of governments in a state such as aristocracy due to the fact that both in aristocracy and marriage, superiority on worth basis or merit is the determining factor on who rules. At some point Aristotle explains how free both wife and children are and the implication by constitutional state conception that citizen’s nature is equal. He strongly believes that merits by the husband rules over the wife by virtue of having a uniquely male authority which is permanent, but are nonetheless both equal in their freemen’s dignity on their rational nature’s account(Santoni & Sommerville,1963).



Santoni, R., & Somerville, J.,(1963) Social and Political Philosophy: Readings from Plato to Gandhi, Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Print.

Ivanhoe, P.J et al. (2001) Readings in Classical Chinese Philosophy. Hackett Publishing: Indianapolis. Print.