Archive for Confucianism

Kim Định: The Pioneer of Vietnam’s Historical Awakening

Posted in Ancient History, I. News, IV. Columns with tags , , , , , on September 27, 2011 by Ian Pham

Decades ago, the majority of academics believed that the origins of Asia’s writing system came from China.  However, one man dared to challenge conventional belief, presenting some ideas that shocked and enraged fellow members of his academic community.  This said individual was a professor and philosopher who went by the name of Kim Định.

Through his literature, Kim Định presented many interesting arguments and ideas, many which posed a direct challenge to the writings and accounts of the Chinese.  One of the sensetive points raised by Kim Định was the origin of the Chinese writing system.  Kim was the first to put into question the common perception that the system was developed in China.

Using Vietnamese folklore, geographical names and dates, and the disrepencies in Chinese historical accounts as his basis, Kim Định boldly presented the idea that it was from the clans of the Hundred Viets that the writing system of China was created.  According to Kim Định, it was the Chinese who borrowed the writing system from the Vietnamese, not the other way around.

The next groundbreaking idea presented by Kim Định was the origin of the Confucian ideology.  Kim Định was also one of the very first researchers to take the position that Confucianism was developed in ancient Vietnam, long before the Chinese used it as their official ideology.  Through extensive research, Kim Dinh came up with conclusions, mainly arguing that there is a much older strand of Vietnamese Confucianism, different from the Chinese, and older than the Chinese.

Because his ideas so strongly opposed what was commonly believed at the time, Kim Định was widely unpopular with his fellow researchers.  He was scorned for his work and shunned by many of his colleagues, labelled as a fanatic nationalist who defied history.  Decades went by until his work was taken seriously.  Today, Kim Định’s work has become the foundation by which modern researchers of Vietnamese history begin their investigations.

Kim Định was a researcher, philosopher, and professor in the former Republic of South Vietnam.  He has authored over 30 books dedicated to the study of Vietnam’s origins, and has become the originator of contemporary Viet studies.  Much of the ideas and findings conducted by modern researchers in the study of Vietnam’s past is based on his work.  A great contributor to the reemergence of Vietnamese history, an important man indeed.

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Confucius and the Teachings of Lạc Việt

Posted in Ancient History, Did You Know?, V. Arts & Culture with tags , , , , on June 14, 2010 by Ian Pham

“Teaching people with an immense and generous heart, even on immoral people, is the power of Southern people.  Gentlemen act like that.  Rushing into battles, embracing saddles, and wearing armors until death without discouragement is the power of Northern people.  Cruel people act like that.” Confucius

The “Southern” people mentioned by Confucius represents the Lạc Việt people of the South while the “Northern” people represents the nomadic tribes of the Zhou Dynasty.  Confucius made this statement as criticism of the Chinese people of that era, comparing their barbaric, violent, and immoral lifestyle to the peaceful, civilized, and intelligent people of the Southern country.

The Zhou Dynasty was the last of the Chinese nomadic tribes.  The time period was around 1000 B.C. and the Zhou Dynasty was making the transition from a nomadic life to a settled society.  It was during this time that a genuine Chinese state began to solidify.  Confucius was born in 551 B.C. under the rule of the Zhou Dynasty.  Society under the Zhou was perverse and immoral.  Corrupted kings, murderous generals, and incestuous families characterized the withering society in China under the Eastern Zhou.  This period of disturbance became known as the Spring and Autumn Period in Chinese history.  Witnessing the disintegration of his society, Confucius searched for ways to educate his fellow Chinese.

The vast amount of land located directly south of Zhou China is where Vietnam was located originally (over 6000 years ago). The name "Yue" is a Chinese transcription of "Viet."

Vietnam, during this time, was already an established nation by the name of Lạc Việt (Luo Yue in Chinese).  The nation of Lạc Việt had its own civilization, culture, and literature independent from that of China.  Existing 4000 years before the Zhou Dynasty, the antiquity of the Vietnamese people has clearly been proven.  It was from Lạc Việt that Confucius discovered the teachings of morality and compassion, it was here that the teachings known as Confucianism was rooted from.  Confucius used teachings of Lạc Việt to educate the Chinese people, not the other way around.  This fact can be verified in Confucius’ own literary works: Shi Ji (Classics of Poetry) and Chun Qiu Jing (Spring and Autumn Annals). Using Vietnamese folk-songs and poetry (known as Zhou Nan and Zhao Nan in Chinese), the people of Zhou learned to become a civilized nation.

The civilization of Lạc Việt, even before the arrival of the nomadic tribes, had already established calender-making, astronomy, chop-sticks, rice-cultivation, and writing characters.