Lately, I’ve been reading a book about the Joseon Dynasty of Korea, which was the longest-lasting Confucian dynasty in Asian history. The book is called The Confucian Kingship in Korea. The opening paragraph does a really nice summary of Confucian thought, or jukyō (儒教) in Japanese or yugyo (유교) in Korean:
One of the keys to understanding the Confucian world view is the perception that Heaven is rational, that the universe is moral, that human reason is a sufficient instrument to fathom the divine, and that man can reproduce on earth the moral order immanent in the universe. The Confucian kingship was conceived in this framework. It sought divine ordination, but the ordination was conditional, not absolute, and subject to human appraisal. (pg. 1)
That’s the best summary I’ve ever read, I think. Personally, I am not sure I believe in a “rational” Heaven (or any heaven) or that human reason can fathom the divine, but it’s an interesting idea to ponder.