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Friday, March 24, 2017

Social & Political Philosophy 2 – Mencius, Xunzi & Mozi on Human Nature








Social & Political Philosophy 2 – Mencius, Xunzi & Mozi on Human Nature


For this lecture read this chapter (2A) of Mencius, sections 3 & 6.
“Everyone has a heart which cannot bear the suffering of others.  The ancient sage kings had this compassionate heart, and thus had compassionate kingdoms.  When such a kingdom was ruled by such a heart, ruling the kingdom was as easy as turning it over in the palm one’s hand.  If anyone sees a child about to fall into a well they will feel fear, not because they may impress the child’s parents or their neighbors and friends.  From this we can see that compassion is essential to humanity, along with shame, modesty and acceptance.” – Mencius, 2A:6
“When you conquer others by force, they do not submit in their hearts.  They submit because they are not strong enough to resist you.  When you conquer others by virtue, they are pleased in the core of their hearts and sincerely submit, as did the seventy disciples of Confucius.” – Mencius, 2A:3
“Human nature is evil.  Virtue is the result of action.  We are born with desires for profit which lead to war and suffering, not courtesy and humility. We are born with envy and hate which lead to violence and crime, not loyalty and good faith. We are born with desire for beautiful sights and sounds which lead to indulgence and laziness, not to tradition and lawThus, anyone who follows our nature and desires will inevitably become involved in war and strife, will violate the rules of society and will end as criminal. Therefore, we must first be transformed by the instructions of teacher and guided by tradition and principles, and only then will we be courteous and humbleobey the law and achieve greatness.” – Xunzi, Human Nature is Evil
The Period of the Hundred Philosophers
One would like to think that times of peace and prosperity are good for systems of thought, but times of civil war and disintegration of empires seems best for thinkers and cultural progress.  This was true in ancient Egypt, India, Greece, and true in the golden age of ancient Chinese thought as well.  Human beings only rethink problems when they are faced with them, and they are only able to teach new and counter-cultural solutions when the orthodoxy is weak and failing.  In Confucius’ China there were great problems in the Warring States period (500 – 220 BCE) as many kings came and went, each calling themselves ‘mandated by heaven’.  Interestingly, this same period is known as the golden age of Chinese thought, the Period of the Hundred Philosophies, also called the Period of the Hundred Schools or Period of the Hundred Sages.  This included the teachings of Confucius and the early Confucians such as Mencius and Xunzi.  (Xunzi is pronounced “Hsun-tzeh”, not to be confused with Sunzi, who wrote the Art of War.)
In the ancient cosmology of ancient Egypt and Persia, influencing the later ancient cultures of India, Greece and China, the world was thought to be built like a person and order was thought to be spoken downward from the heavens to the earth.  In ancient China, it was said that if a king was good he would be supported and affirmed by the voice of heaven, which in speaking for a king gave the king the “mandate of heaven” and allow him and the empire to prosper.  Likewise, the king would speak for and support local rulers and ministers.  This is very similar to most other polytheistic and monotheistic cultures of the ancient world.
If the king does not follow the way of heaven, the gods or god stops speaking for the king, and someone else comes along and takes the king’s place.  Each new king claims that the old king was ‘no longer spoken for’, so the populations of ancient Greece, India, as well as China, find themselves wondering: who or what kind of king exactly does heaven (the heavens) speak for, and why?  Philosophy of the ancient world was both about how to rule the self and how to rule a people, and the questions were often intertwined.  Up until the French Revolution in the 1700s, Louis XVI claimed to be similarly spoken for.
Confucius (550-480 BCE)

Confucius’ father, a soldier, died when Confucius was very young, presumably in combat.  Confucius was alive as the Zhou Dynasty disintegrated during the Spring and Autumn period, though he did not see things deteriorate further as they did in the Warring State Period, the time when Confucius’ teachings were taken up by Mencius, Xunzi and others as the way to cultivate and restore both society and the self.  Confucius’ family were nobles, but they were lower level aristocrats, shi, sometimes translated into English as ‘knights’, and they had fallen on hard times.  They had left the state of Song to the South after political infighting and assassinations.  By the age of fifteen Confucius had decided that he wanted to study the classics, which fortunately were better kept and studied in Lu than in other states.  When he was twenty three, he began teaching publicly and privately.  By thirty, he was studying ancient government in the court of Lu with other scholars and had a position as overseer of public fields and the state granary.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Most Famous Philosophers – List of Famous Philosophers in History


The Greek word for philosophy (philosophia) translates to the “love for wisdom” in English. The discipline dates back to ancient times with some of the greatest philosophers being Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. But there are some modern-day philosophical thinkers who have had their contributions recognized as well. Below is a chronological list of some of the most famous philosophers of all time and why they were important to future generations.




Confucius



Confucius

Ancient Philosopher
Specialty Confucianism
Born 551 BC
Zou, Lu state
Died 479 BC (at age 71-72)
Lu State
Nationality Chinese


Of the many renowned Chinese philosophers, none were as influential and as endearing as Confucius. Among the reasons why Confucius was such a popular figure can be seen in his works. Confucius was not a man who labored over esoteric topics. Rather, he focused his writings on morality, proper behavior, political theories, and subjects that had timeless appeal.
Uncertain Beginnings

In Greek antiquity, many legendary philosophers attended formal institutions for the purpose of learning and expanding on prior philosophical belief. Confucius did not follow this path. Rather, Confucius grew up mostly in poverty and earned a living performing menial tasks and jobs, including shepherding.

The ability to piece together the early life of Confucius is very difficult since written records were never kept. Facts about his life were repeated via oral tradition among his followers. It is believed that he was born in Zou in the state of Lu circa 551 B.C.
Life in Lu

The formal education of Confucius is really not known. It is likely he studied Taoism under a popular mystic and also learned Chinese music. When he reached middle age, Confucius amassed disciples who began to become politically active in Lu, which was a city that was suffering from a great deal of political instability at the time Confucius lived there. The number of disciples he had is not known. Many sources that list huge numbers of followers are likely highly exaggerated as so many accounts of Confucius’ life are treated as myth.

Lu was run by three aristocratic families and Confucius began to catch their attention. The philosopher was centering his teaching on subjects related to righteousness and proper conduct. The families saw the value in these traits because they knew government officials who embodied these traits would provide greater legitimacy and a lot of loyalty from the populace.

In 501 B.C., Confucius was made the governor of a town, although it seemed to be a minor position because the town was so small. He eventually became the Minister of Crime. How important of a position this might have been is not really known. The position likely was a minor one since levying fines and penalties was not exactly his area of expertise.

At some point, political upheavals in Lu led Confucius to go into exile. He wandered around the regions surrounding Lu for quite some time. Perhaps during this time period, he was able to better formulate many of his political and philosophical belief systems. Eventually, he returned from exile and commenced teaching.
Works and PhilosophyThe Analects of Confucius is a collection of the great sayings of the philosopher and perhaps some of his students. Confucius did not write the Analects, as this was a task completed by his followers. In this work, the themes of Confucianism are presented. Some do consider Confucianism a religion while others see it as more of a philosophical approach to life.



A great deal of this philosopher’s works centered on ethics and moral behavior. Confucius did try to lead people towards taking the right actions in life that would allow them to live a moral and just existence. Many of these teachings were in accordance with traditional Chinese cultural beliefs, but Confucius had his own unique way of presenting them.

One of the more interesting aspects of Confucianism is that it stresses ethics to the self. To a degree, Confucianism stresses consistent learning and the path to self-improvement.

Confucius also stressed the importance of a government to rule justly over its people and to also embody proper ethical and moral actions. In a sense, Confucius was promoting what would become known as the social contract during the Age of Enlightenment, which would not occur for hundreds of years.
Death and Legacy of Confucius

Confucius likely passed away around 479 B.C. After his death, his disciples carried on with his teachings. As a result, his thoughts were collected in book form and preserved for time. For many years, his disciples were awarded positions in the government. This alone is a testament to the value the ruler in ancient China placed in his teachings.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Shri Adi Shankaracharya



Adi Sankara, Sa?karacarya


Adi Shankara was an 8th century Indian Hindu philosopher and theologian whose teachings had a profound influence on the growth of Hinduism. Also known as Shri Adi Shankaracharya and Bhagavatpada Acharya (the guru at the feet of Lord), he was a religious reformist who critiqued the rituals-oriented schools of Hinduism and cleansed the Vedic religious practices of ritualistic excesses. Adi Shankara is best remembered for his remarkable reinterpretations of Hindu scriptures and his commentaries on the Vedic canon (Brahma Sutras, Principal Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita). He was an exponent of the Advaita Vedanta school of philosophy which refers to the recognition that the true Self, Atman, is the same as the highest Reality, Brahman. His teachings on the philosophy have tremendously influenced various sects of Hinduism and have contributed to the development of the modern Indian thought. Born into a poor family in southern India, Adi Shankara was inclined towards spirituality and religion from a young age. He mastered all the Vedas and the six Vedangas from his guru and travelled widely, dispersing spiritual knowledge and spreading the tenets of Advaita Vedanta. In spite of dying at the young age of 32, he left an indelible mark on the development of Hinduism.

Childhood & Early Life

There are several discrepancies regarding the year of his birth. However, the mainstream scholarly opinion is that he was born circa 788.

He was born into a poor Brahmin family in Kaladi, Chera Kingdom, present day Kerala, India. His parents Sivaguru and Aryamba had been childless for a long time and had prayed to Lord Shiva to bless them with a baby.

It is said that Aryamba had a vision of Lord Shiva who promised her that he would be born as her first-born child. Soon she gave birth to a son in the auspicious Abhijit Muhurta and under the constellation Ardhra. The boy was named Shankara.

Shankara proved to be a brilliant boy and mastered all the Vedas and the six Vedangas from the local gurukul.

From a young age he was more inclined towards religion and spirituality and did not show much interest in worldly affairs. He wanted to become a Sannyasin (hermit) though his mother disapproved. She wanted him to get married and live the life of a house-holder.

Legend has it that he once went to take a bath in the river when a crocodile grabbed his foot. He then called out to his mother to give him permission to become a Sannyasin or else the crocodile will kill him. His mother agreed in desperation, and the crocodile let go of his foot. He emerged unharmed from the river and proceeded to renounce all his worldly attachments.


Later Life

He wanted to get formally initiated into the sacred order of Sannyasa and thus sought a guru to guide him in this direction. He met Swami Govindapada Acharya in a hermitage in Badrikashram (Badrinath) in the Himalayas. He narrated his life’s story to the guru and requested him to accept him as a pupil.

Swami Govindapada was very pleased with the youth and initiated him into the sacred order of Sannyasa. He then proceeded to teach Shankara the philosophy of Advaita which he himself had learnt from his guru, Gaudapada Acharya.

At the behest of his guru, Shankara went to Kashi and there he wrote his commentaries on the Brahma Sutras, the Upanishads and the Gita.

The details regarding the later years of his life are somewhat obscure though it is generally accepted that he travelled widely, participated in public philosophical debates with religious scholars, preached his teachings to his disciples and founded several “matha” (monasteries).

He is regarded as the founder of the Dasanami Sampradaya of Hindu monasticism and ?a?mata of Smarta tradition. He organized the Hindu monks of a section of the Ekadandi monks under four “Ma?has” (monasteries), with the headquarters at Dvaraka in the West, Jagannatha Puri in the East, Sringeri in the South and Badrikashrama in the North. He then placed four of his prominent disciples, Sureswara Acharya, Padmapada, Hastamalaka and Trotakacharya, in charge of the mathas.

He was a prolific author and wrote many commentaries which are considered authentic by scholars. Some of these are Bhasya on the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, the Chandogya Upanishad, the Aitareya Upanishad, the Taittiriya Upanishad, the Kena Upanishad, the Isha Upanishad, the Katha Upanishad, and the Mundaka Upanishad.

Major Works

Adi Shankara was the principal exponent of the Advaita Vedanta-interpretation which refers to the recognition that the true Self, Atman, is the same as the highest Reality, Brahman. He systematized the works of preceding philosophers in this philosophy and his teachings played a pivotal role in the development of Hinduism over the centuries.

Personal Life & Legacy

Since Adi Shankara was the only son born after years of being childless, his mother was deeply attached to him. She feared that if her son became a Sannyasin, then there would be no one left to perform the last rites upon her death. Adi Shankara promised his mother that he would perform her funeral when the time came inspite of being a Sannyasin. He fulfilled his promise upon her death and performed her last rites in spite of facing many difficulties in doing so.

He is believed to have died in 820, at the age of just 32, at Kedarnath, a Hindu pilgrimage site in the Himalayas. However, some texts mention the location of his death as Tamil Nadu or Kerala.


Sunday, March 12, 2017

Indian philosophers of Chanakya


Chanakya was a philosopher, economist, and statesman who wrote the Indian political treatise, the ‘Arthashastra’ (Economics). In this seminal work he had compiled almost every aspect of what had been written in India up to that time regarding property, economics, or material success. He is considered a pioneer in the fields of political science and economics in India due to the significant contributions he made to the development of these fields. Chanakya, also identified as Kauṭilya or Vishnu Gupta, was a powerful statesman in the court of the first Mauryan emperor Chandragupta and played a pivotal role in the establishment of the Maurya empire. Born into a Brahmin family, Chanakya was educated at Takshashila, an ancient centre of learning located in north-western ancient India. He was a highly learned person with in-depth knowledge in varied subjects like economics, politics, war strategies, medicine, and astrology. Beginning his career as a teacher, he went on to become a trusted ally of Emperor Chandragupta. Acting as the emperor’s counselor and adviser, he was instrumental in helping Chandragupta overthrow the powerful Nanda dynasty at Pataliputra, in the Magadha region and helped Chandragupta consolidate his powers. Chanakya also served as the adviser to Chandragupta’s son Bindusara.




ডেল কার্নেগীর বিখ্যাত উক্তি

ডেল কার্নেগীর বিখ্যাত  উক্তি

ডেল কার্নেগী ১৮৮৮ সালের ২৪শে নভেম্বর যুক্তরাষ্ট্রে জন্ম গ্রহন করেন। তিনি একজন অনুপ্রেরণামূলক বা আত্মউন্নয়মূলক বইয়ের লেখক হিসেবে বিখ্যাত। তাঁর লেখা ‘ How To Win Friends & Influence People ‘ বইটি সর্বকালের সেরা বেস্ট সেলারের মধ্যে একটি। যেটি দেড় কোটিরও বেশি কপি বিক্রি হয়েছিল। এছাড়াও তাঁর লেখা অন্যান্য জনপ্রিয় বইগুলি হলো – ‘How To Stop Worrying & Start Living‘, ‘Lincoln The Unknown‘, ‘The Leader In You‘, ‘The Art Of public Speaking‘ ইত্যাদি। তিনি ১৯৯৫ সালের ১নভেম্বর আমেরিকার নিউয়র্ক শহরে মৃত্যুবরণ করেন। আজও তিনি সারা বিশ্বে একজন সফল ব্যক্তিত্ব হিসিবে অমর হয়ে আছেন।

 (১) যার কথার চেয় কােজর পিরমান বশী, সাফল তার কােছই এেস ধরা দয়, কারন য নদী যত গভীর তার বেয় যাওয়ার শ তেতা কম। .
(২) মেন রাখেবন, আপিন ক বা আপনার কী আেছ তার উপর আপনার সুখ িনভর কের না, আপনার সুখ িনভর কের আপিন কমন িচ া কেরন তার উপর। .
 (৩) যা আপনােক পীড়া দয়, এমন িবষয় িনেয় এক িমিনেটর বিশ ভাবেবন না।
 (৪) মানুেষর ণ িনেয় িতেযািগতা ক ন, দাষ িনেয় নয়। .
 (৫) মেন রাখেবন আজেকর িদনিট গতকাল আপনার কােছ আগামীকাল িছল। যটার কথা ভেব গতকাল আপিন িচি ত িছেলন আজ নয়। .
(৬) আপিন ভাল মানুষ হেলই পুেরা জগৎবাসী আপনার সে ভাল ব বহার করেব এমনটা আশা করা িঠক নয।় আপিন িনরািমষেভাজী হেল িক কান ষঁাড ় আপনােক তাডা় করেব না?” .
 (৭) অ তায ় ভরা েরর িকছুর চেয় কােছর কছু দখাই আমােদর দরকার। .
(৮) িক কাজ করেত চেলেছন স স েক কান ধারণা না থাকার অথ, আপিন অ কােরর যা ী কান অে র মত। . (৯) ম সহচেযর চেয় িনঃস তা অেনক ভােলা। .
(১০) মানুষ যখন রাগাি ত অব ায়, তখন তােক কানভােব িবর করা উিচত নয় । কননা তা থেক চরম ভুল বাঝাবুিঝ সিৃ হেত পাের। .
 (১১) পিথবীেতৃ ভালবাসার একিট মা ঊপায় আেছ, সটা হল িতদান পাওয়ার আশা না কের ধু ভালেবেস যাওয়া।
(১২) মেন রাখেবন অন ায় সমােলাচনা অেনক ে ই আড়াল করা শংসাই: মেন রাখেবন মরা কু কু রেক কউ লািথ মােরনা। .
 (১৩) ি া দূর করার এক ন র উপায় হল- ব থাকা। .
(১৪) আিম চাইতাম িবখ াত ব ি েদর মেতা সফল হেত; এর জন আিম অেনক পির মও কেরিছ িক আিম কানভােবই সফল হইিন, অবেশেষ আিম িস া িনলামঅেন র মেতা নয়- বরং আিম হেবা আমার মেতা। .
(১৫) অনুকরন নয,় অনুসরন নয,় িনেজেক খুজঁ ুন, িনেজেক জানুন, িনেজর পেথ চলুন। . (১৬) আমরা যখন আমােদর কতব – কেম অবেহলা দখাই, কান দািযেক় িন ার সে হন কিরনা, তখনই অকৃতকাযতা আেস। .
 (১৭) ভ আচরন করেত িশ া লােগ, অভ আচরন করেত অ তাই যেথ । .
(১৮) সাফল হল আপিন যা চান তা হািসল করা। আন হল আপিন যা চান তা পাওয়া। .
 (১৯) দা ত জীবেন সুিখ হেত চাও? তাহেল-পর রেক অিব াস করেবনা আর ঘ ানর ঘ ানর করেবন না।
(২০) একিট সুর মুেখর কু ৎিসত কথার চেয,় একিট কু ৎিসত মুেখর মধুর কথা অিধকতর য়। .
 (২১) য ীরা ামীেক সুখী করেত পােরন, তারা িনেজরাও তার সে সুখী হন। তারা অিত সহেজই বলেত পােরন য ামীর সহেযািগতায় আমােদর জীবন কানায় কানায় পূণ। .
(২২) মেন রাখা েয়াজন য, একজন হতাশা মানুেষর চেয় একজন সুখী মানুষ হাজার ন বশী কম ম। .
 (২৩) য অব হায়ই পড়ুন না কন- অব ার ভােলা ম না দেখ িবচার করা উিচত নয়। .
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