Confucianism

Confucianism

Overview
Confucianism is a Chinese ethical and philosophical system developed from the teachings of the Chinese philosopher Confucius
Confucius
Confucius , literally "Master Kong", was a Chinese thinker and social philosopher of the Spring and Autumn Period....

 (Kǒng Fūzǐ, or K'ung-fu-tzu, lit. "Master Kong", 551–478 BC). Confucianism originated as an "ethical-sociopolitical teaching" during the Spring and Autumn Period, but later developed metaphysical and cosmological elements in the Han Dynasty
Han Dynasty
The Han Dynasty was the second imperial dynasty of China, preceded by the Qin Dynasty and succeeded by the Three Kingdoms . It was founded by the rebel leader Liu Bang, known posthumously as Emperor Gaozu of Han. It was briefly interrupted by the Xin Dynasty of the former regent Wang Mang...

.
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Encyclopedia
Confucianism is a Chinese ethical and philosophical system developed from the teachings of the Chinese philosopher Confucius
Confucius
Confucius , literally "Master Kong", was a Chinese thinker and social philosopher of the Spring and Autumn Period....

 (Kǒng Fūzǐ, or K'ung-fu-tzu, lit. "Master Kong", 551–478 BC). Confucianism originated as an "ethical-sociopolitical teaching" during the Spring and Autumn Period, but later developed metaphysical and cosmological elements in the Han Dynasty
Han Dynasty
The Han Dynasty was the second imperial dynasty of China, preceded by the Qin Dynasty and succeeded by the Three Kingdoms . It was founded by the rebel leader Liu Bang, known posthumously as Emperor Gaozu of Han. It was briefly interrupted by the Xin Dynasty of the former regent Wang Mang...

. Following the abandonment of Legalism
Legalism (Chinese philosophy)
In Chinese history, Legalism was one of the main philosophic currents during the Warring States Period, although the term itself was invented in the Han Dynasty and thus does not refer to an organized 'school' of thought....

 in China after the Qin Dynasty
Qin Dynasty
The Qin Dynasty was the first imperial dynasty of China, lasting from 221 to 207 BC. The Qin state derived its name from its heartland of Qin, in modern-day Shaanxi. The strength of the Qin state was greatly increased by the legalist reforms of Shang Yang in the 4th century BC, during the Warring...

, Confucianism became the official state ideology of China, until it was replaced by the "Three Principles of the People
Three Principles of the People
The Three Principles of the People, also translated as Three People's Principles, or collectively San-min Doctrine, is a political philosophy developed by Sun Yat-sen as part of a philosophy to make China a free, prosperous, and powerful nation...

" ideology with the establishment of the Republic of China
Republic of China
The Republic of China , commonly known as Taiwan , is a unitary sovereign state located in East Asia. Originally based in mainland China, the Republic of China currently governs the island of Taiwan , which forms over 99% of its current territory, as well as Penghu, Kinmen, Matsu and other minor...

, and then Maoist Communism
Maoism
Maoism, also known as the Mao Zedong Thought , is claimed by Maoists as an anti-Revisionist form of Marxist communist theory, derived from the teachings of the Chinese political leader Mao Zedong . Developed during the 1950s and 1960s, it was widely applied as the political and military guiding...

 after the ROC was replaced by the People's Republic of China
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

 in Mainland China.

The core of Confucianism is humanism
Humanism
Humanism is an approach in study, philosophy, world view or practice that focuses on human values and concerns. In philosophy and social science, humanism is a perspective which affirms some notion of human nature, and is contrasted with anti-humanism....

, the belief that human beings are teachable, improvable and perfectible through personal and communal endeavour especially including self-cultivation and self-creation. Confucianism focuses on the cultivation of virtue and maintenance of ethics, the most basic of which are ren, yi, and li. Ren is an obligation of altruism
Altruism
Altruism is a concern for the welfare of others. It is a traditional virtue in many cultures, and a core aspect of various religious traditions, though the concept of 'others' toward whom concern should be directed can vary among cultures and religions. Altruism is the opposite of...

 and humaneness for other individuals within a community, yi is the upholding of righteousness and the moral disposition to do good, and li is a system of norms and propriety that determines how a person should properly act within a community. Confucianism holds that one should give up one's life, if necessary, either passively or actively, for the sake of upholding the cardinal moral values of ren and yi. Although Confucius the man may have been a believer in Chinese folk religion
Chinese folk religion
Chinese folk religion or Shenism , which is a term of considerable debate, are labels used to describe the collection of ethnic religious traditions which have been a main belief system in China and among Han Chinese ethnic groups for most of the civilization's history until today...

, Confucianism as an ideology is humanistic and non-theistic, and does not involve a belief in the supernatural or in a personal god.

Cultures and countries strongly influenced by Confucianism include mainland China
Culture of China
Chinese culture is one of the world's oldest and most complex. The area in which the culture is dominant covers a large geographical region in eastern Asia with customs and traditions varying greatly between towns, cities and provinces...

, Taiwan
Culture of Taiwan
The culture of Taiwan is a blend of Confucianist Han Chinese, Japanese, European, American, global, local, and Taiwanese aborigines cultures, which are often perceived in both traditional and modern understandings...

, Korea
Culture of Korea
The current political separation of North and South Korea has resulted in divergence in modern Korean cultures; nevertheless, the traditional culture of Korea is historically shared by both states.-Dance:...

, Japan
Culture of Japan
The culture of Japan has evolved greatly over the millennia, from the country's prehistoric Jōmon period to its contemporary hybrid culture, which combines influences from Asia, Europe and North America...

 and Vietnam
Culture of Vietnam
The Culture of Vietnam, an agricultural civilization based on the cultivation of wet rice, is one of the oldest in East Asia; the ancient Bronze age Dong Son culture is considered to be one of its most important progenitors...

, as well as various territories settled predominantly by Chinese people
Han Chinese
Han Chinese are an ethnic group native to China and are the largest single ethnic group in the world.Han Chinese constitute about 92% of the population of the People's Republic of China , 98% of the population of the Republic of China , 78% of the population of Singapore, and about 20% of the...

, such as Singapore
Culture of Singapore
Singapore was a part of British Malaya for many centuries. It was ruled by the Sultanate of Johor. In 1819, the British came to the Island and set up a port and colony. During British rule, the port of Singapore flourished and attracted many migrants...

. Although Confucian ideas prevail in these areas, few people outside of academia identify themselves as Confucian, and instead see Confucian ethics as a complementary guideline for other ideologies and beliefs, including Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

, democracy
Democracy
Democracy is generally defined as a form of government in which all adult citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives. Ideally, this includes equal participation in the proposal, development and passage of legislation into law...

, Marxism
Marxism
Marxism is an economic and sociopolitical worldview and method of socioeconomic inquiry that centers upon a materialist interpretation of history, a dialectical view of social change, and an analysis and critique of the development of capitalism. Marxism was pioneered in the early to mid 19th...

, capitalism
Capitalism
Capitalism is an economic system that became dominant in the Western world following the demise of feudalism. There is no consensus on the precise definition nor on how the term should be used as a historical category...

, Islam and Buddhism
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

.

Themes in Confucian thought



Humanism is at the core in Confucianism. A simple way to appreciate Confucian thought is to consider it as being based on varying levels of honesty, and a simple way to understand Confucian thought is to examine the world by using the logic of humanity. In practice, the primary foundation and function of Confucianism is as an ethical philosophy to be practiced by all the members of a society. Confucian ethics is characterized by the promotion of virtues, encompassed by the Five Constants, or the Wuchang (五常), extrapolated by Confucian scholars during the Han Dynasty
Han Dynasty
The Han Dynasty was the second imperial dynasty of China, preceded by the Qin Dynasty and succeeded by the Three Kingdoms . It was founded by the rebel leader Liu Bang, known posthumously as Emperor Gaozu of Han. It was briefly interrupted by the Xin Dynasty of the former regent Wang Mang...

. The five virtues are Ren
Ren (Confucianism)
Ren is a Confucian notion denoting, as rough approximation, the good feeling a virtuous human experiences when behaving rightly, especially toward others...

 (仁, Humaneness), Yi
Yi (Confucianism)
Yi, , literally "justice, righteousness; meaning," is an important concept in Confucianism. It is the moral disposition to do good....

 (義, Righteousness or Justice), Li (禮, Propriety or Etiquette), Zhi (智, Knowledge), Xin (信, Integrity). They are accompanied by the classical Sizi (四字) with four virtues: Zhong (忠, Loyalty), Xiao (孝, Filial piety), Jie (節, Continency), Yi (義, Righteousness). There are still many other elements, such as Cheng (誠, honesty), Shu (恕, kindness and forgiveness), Lian (廉, honesty and cleanness), Chi (恥, shame, judge and sense of right and wrong), Yong (勇, bravery), Wen (溫, kind and gentle), Liang (良, good, kindhearted), Gong (恭, respectful, reverent), Jian(儉, frugal), Rang (讓, modestly, self-effacing). Among all elements, Ren (Humanity) and Yi (Righteousness) are fundamental. Sometimes morality is interpreted as the phantom of Humanity and Righteousness.

Ren


Ren is one of the basic virtues promoted by Confucius, and is an obligation of altruism
Altruism
Altruism is a concern for the welfare of others. It is a traditional virtue in many cultures, and a core aspect of various religious traditions, though the concept of 'others' toward whom concern should be directed can vary among cultures and religions. Altruism is the opposite of...

 and humaneness for other individuals within a community. Confucius' concept of humaneness is probably best expressed in the Confucian version of the Ethic of reciprocity
Ethic of reciprocity
The Golden Rule or ethic of reciprocity is a maxim, ethical code, or moralitythat essentially states either of the following:* : One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself....

, or the Golden Rule: "do not do unto others what you would not have them do unto you."

Confucius never stated whether man was born good or evil, noting that 'By nature men are similar; by practice men are wide apart' —implying that whether good or bad, Confucius must have perceived all men to be born with intrinsic similarities, but that man is conditioned and influenced by study and practise. Xunzi's opinion is that men originally just want what they instinctively want despite positive or negative results it may bring, so cultivation is needed. In Mencius' view, all men are born to share goodness such as compassion and good heart, although they may become wicked. The Three Character Classic
Three Character Classic
The Three Character Classic, Trimetric Classic or San Zi Jing is one of the Chinese classic texts. It was probably written in the 13th century and attributed to Wang Yinglin during the Song Dynasty...

 begins with "People at birth are naturally good (kind-hearted)", which stems from Mencius' idea. All the views eventually lead to recognize the importance of human education and cultivation.

Rén also has a political dimension. If the ruler lacks rén, Confucianism holds, it will be difficult if not impossible for his subjects to behave humanely. Rén is the basis of Confucian political theory: it presupposes an autocratic ruler, exhorted to refrain from acting inhumanely towards his subjects. An inhumane ruler runs the risk of losing the "Mandate of Heaven", the right to rule. A ruler lacking such a mandate need not be obeyed. But a ruler who reigns humanely and takes care of the people is to be obeyed strictly, for the benevolence of his dominion shows that he has been mandated by heaven. Confucius himself had little to say on the will of the people, but his leading follower Mencius
Mencius
Mencius was a Chinese philosopher who was arguably the most famous Confucian after Confucius himself.-Life:Mencius, also known by his birth name Meng Ke or Ko, was born in the State of Zou, now forming the territory of the county-level city of Zoucheng , Shandong province, only thirty kilometres ...

 did state on one occasion that the people's opinion on certain weighty matters should be considered.

Etiquette



In Confucianism, the term "li" , sometimes translated into English as rituals, customs, rites, etiquette, or morals, refers to any of the secular social functions of daily life, akin to the Western term for culture
Culture
Culture is a term that has many different inter-related meanings. For example, in 1952, Alfred Kroeber and Clyde Kluckhohn compiled a list of 164 definitions of "culture" in Culture: A Critical Review of Concepts and Definitions...

. Confucius considered education, tea drinking, and music as various elements of li. Li were codified and treated as a comprehensive system of norms, guiding the propriety or politeness which colors everyday life. Confucius himself tried to revive the etiquette
Etiquette
Etiquette is a code of behavior that delineates expectations for social behavior according to contemporary conventional norms within a society, social class, or group...

 of earlier dynasties.

It is important to note that, although li is sometimes translated as "ritual" or "rites", it has developed a specialized meaning in Confucianism, as opposed to its usual religious meanings. In Confucianism, the acts of everyday life are considered rituals. Rituals are not necessarily regimented or arbitrary practices, but the routines that people often engage in, knowingly or unknowingly, during the normal course of their lives. Shaping the rituals in a way that leads to a content and healthy society, and to content and healthy people, is one purpose of Confucian philosophy.

Loyalty


Loyalty is the equivalent of filial piety on a different plane. It is particularly relevant for the social class to which most of Confucius' students belonged, because the only way for an ambitious young scholar to make his way in the Confucian Chinese world was to enter a ruler's civil service. Like filial piety, however, loyalty was often subverted by the autocratic regimes of China. Confucius had advocated a sensitivity to the realpolitik
Realpolitik
Realpolitik refers to politics or diplomacy based primarily on power and on practical and material factors and considerations, rather than ideological notions or moralistic or ethical premises...

 of the class relations in his time; he did not propose that "might makes right", but that a superior who had received the "Mandate of Heaven
Mandate of Heaven
The Mandate of Heaven is a traditional Chinese philosophical concept concerning the legitimacy of rulers. It is similar to the European concept of the divine right of kings, in that both sought to legitimaze rule from divine approval; however, unlike the divine right of kings, the Mandate of...

" (see below) should be obeyed because of his moral rectitude.

In later ages, however, emphasis was placed more on the obligations of the ruled to the ruler, and less on the ruler's obligations to the ruled.

Loyalty was also an extension of one's duties to friends, family, and spouse. Loyalty to one's family came first, then to one's spouse, then to one's ruler, and lastly to one's friends. Loyalty was considered one of the greater human virtues.

Confucius also realized that loyalty and filial piety can potentially conflict.

Filial piety



"Filial piety" is considered among the greatest of virtues and must be shown towards both the living and the dead (including even remote ancestors). The term "filial" (meaning "of a child") characterizes the respect that a child, originally a son, should show to his parents. This relationship was extended by analogy to a series of five relationships :

The Five Bonds
  • Ruler to Ruled
  • Father to Son
  • Husband to Wife
  • Elder Brother to Younger Brother
  • Friend to Friend


Specific duties were prescribed to each of the participants in these sets of relationships. Such duties were also extended to the dead, where the living stood as sons to their deceased family. This led to the veneration of ancestors. The only relationship where respect for elders wasn't stressed was the Friend to Friend relationship. In all other relationships, high reverence was held for elders.

The idea of Filial piety influenced the Chinese legal system: a criminal would be punished more harshly if the culprit had committed the crime against a parent, while fathers often exercised enormous power over their children. A similar differentiation was applied to other relationships. Now filial piety is also built into law. People have the responsibility to provide for their elderly parents according to the law.

The main source of our knowledge of the importance of filial piety is The Book of Filial Piety
Xiao Jing
Xiao Jing or Classic of Filial Piety is a Confucian classic treatise giving advice on filial piety; that is, how to behave towards a senior .-Authorship:...

, a work attributed to Confucius and his son but almost certainly written in the 3rd century BCE. The Analects, the main source of the Confucianism of Confucius, actually has little to say on the matter of filial piety and some sources believe the concept was focused on by later thinkers as a response to Mohism
Mohism
Mohism or Moism was a Chinese philosophy developed by the followers of Mozi , 470 BC–c.391 BC...

.

Filial piety has continued to play a central role in Confucian thinking to the present day.

Relationships


Relationships are central to Confucianism. Particular duties arise from one's particular situation in relation to others. The individual stands simultaneously in several different relationships with different people: as a junior in relation to parents and elders, and as a senior in relation to younger siblings, students, and others. While juniors are considered in Confucianism to owe their seniors reverence, seniors also have duties of benevolence
Benevolence
Benevolence means an act of, or a general inclination towards, charity."Benevolence" may also refer to:* Benevolence , a faculty in the discredited theory of Phrenology* USS Benevolence , a Haven class hospital ship-See also:...

 and concern toward juniors. This theme of mutuality is prevalent in East Asian cultures even to this day.

Social harmony—the great goal of Confucianism—therefore results in part from every individual knowing his or her place in the social order, and playing his or her part well. When Duke Jing of Qi
Qi (state)
Qi was a powerful state during the Spring and Autumn Period and Period of the Warring States in ancient China. Its capital was Linzi, now part of the modern day city of Zibo in Shandong Province....

 asked about government, by which he meant proper administration so as to bring social harmony, Confucius replied:

There is government, when the prince is prince, and the minister is minister; when the father is father, and the son is son. (Analects XII, 11, trans. Legge)


Mencius says: "When being a child, yearn for and love your parents; when growing mature, yearn for and love your lassie; when having wife and child(ren), yearn for and love your wife and child(ren); when being an official (or a staffer), yearn for and love your sovereign (and/or boss)."

The gentleman



The term jūnzǐ is crucial to classical Confucianism. Confucianism exhorts all people to strive for the ideal of a "gentleman" or "perfect man". A succinct description of the "perfect man" is one who "combines the qualities of saint, scholar, and gentleman." In modern times the masculine translation in English is also traditional and is still frequently used. Elitism
Elitism
Elitism is the belief or attitude that some individuals, who form an elite — a select group of people with intellect, wealth, specialized training or experience, or other distinctive attributes — are those whose views on a matter are to be taken the most seriously or carry the most...

 was bound up with the concept, and gentlemen were expected to act as moral guides to the rest of society.

They were to:
  • cultivate themselves morally;
  • show filial piety and loyalty where these are due;
  • cultivate humanity, or benevolence.


The great exemplar of the perfect gentleman is Confucius himself. Perhaps the tragedy of his life was that he was never awarded the high official position which he desired, from which he wished to demonstrate the general well-being that would ensue if humane persons ruled and administered the state.

The opposite of the Jūnzǐ was the Xiǎorén . The character 小 in this context means petty in mind and heart, narrowly self-interested, greedy, superficial, or materialistic.

Rectification of names



Confucius believed that social disorder often stemmed from failure to perceive, understand, and deal with reality. Fundamentally, then, social disorder can stem from the failure to call things by their proper names, and his solution to this was Zhèngmíng . He gave an explanation of zhengming to one of his disciples.


Zi-lu said, "The ruler of Wei has been waiting for you, in order with you to administer the government. What will you consider the first thing to be done?"

The Master replied, "What is necessary to rectify names."

"So! indeed!" said Zi-lu. "You are wide off the mark! Why must there be such rectification?"

The Master said, "How uncultivated you are, Yu! A superior man, in regard to what he does not know, shows a cautious reserve.

        If names be not correct, language is not in accordance with the truth of things.

        If language be not in accordance with the truth of things, affairs cannot be carried on to success.

        When affairs cannot be carried on to success, proprieties and music do not flourish.

        When proprieties and music do not flourish, punishments will not be properly awarded.

        When punishments are not properly awarded, the people do not know how to move hand or foot.

Therefore a superior man considers it necessary that the names he uses may be spoken appropriately, and also that what he speaks may be carried out appropriately. What the superior man requires is just that in his words there may be nothing incorrect."

(Analects XIII, 3, tr. Legge)


Xun Zi
Xun Zi
Xun Zi was a Chinese Confucian philosopher who lived during the Warring States Period and contributed to one of the Hundred Schools of Thought. Xun Zi believed man's inborn tendencies need to be curbed through education and ritual, counter to Mencius's view that man is innately good...

 chapter (22) "On the Rectification of Names" claims the ancient sage-kings chose names that directly corresponded with actualities , but later generations confused terminology, coined new nomenclature, and thus could no longer distinguish right from wrong.

Governance




To govern by virtue, let us compare it to the North Star: it stays in its place, while the myriad stars wait upon it. (Analects II, 1)

Another key Confucian concept is that in order to govern others one must first govern oneself. When developed sufficiently, the king's personal virtue spreads beneficent influence throughout the kingdom. This idea is developed further in the Great Learning
Great Learning
The Great Learning was one of the "Four Books" in Confucianism. The Great Learning had come from a chapter in the Classic of Rites which formed one of the Five Classics. It consists of a short main text attributed to the teachings of Confucius and then ten commentary chapters accredited to one...

, and is tightly linked with the Taoist
Taoism
Taoism refers to a philosophical or religious tradition in which the basic concept is to establish harmony with the Tao , which is the mechanism of everything that exists...

 concept of wu wei
Wu wei
Wu wei is an important concept of Taoism , that involves knowing when to act and when not to act. Another perspective to this is that "Wu Wei" means...

 : the less the king does, the more gets done. By being the "calm center" around which the kingdom turns, the king allows everything to function smoothly and avoids having to tamper with the individual parts of the whole.

This idea may be traced back to early Chinese shamanistic beliefs, such as the king being the axle between the sky, human beings, and the Earth. Another complementary view is that this idea may have been used by ministers and counselors to deter aristocratic whims that would otherwise be to the detriment of the state's people.

Meritocracy



In teaching, there should be no distinction of classes. (Analects XV, 39)

The main basis of his teachings was to seek knowledge, study, and become a better person.

Although Confucius claimed that he never invented anything but was only transmitting ancient knowledge (see Analects VII, 1), he did produce a number of new ideas. Many European and American admirers such as Voltaire
Voltaire
François-Marie Arouet , better known by the pen name Voltaire , was a French Enlightenment writer, historian and philosopher famous for his wit and for his advocacy of civil liberties, including freedom of religion, free trade and separation of church and state...

 and H. G. Creel point to the revolutionary idea of replacing nobility of blood with nobility of virtue. Jūnzǐ (君子, lit. "lord's child"), which originally signified the younger, non-inheriting, offspring of a noble, became, in Confucius' work, an epithet having much the same meaning and evolution as the English "gentleman". A virtuous plebeian who cultivates his qualities can be a "gentleman", while a shameless son of the king is only a "small man". That he admitted students of different classes as disciples is a clear demonstration that he fought against the feudal structures that defined pre-imperial Chinese society.

Another new idea, that of meritocracy
Meritocracy
Meritocracy, in the first, most administrative sense, is a system of government or other administration wherein appointments and responsibilities are objectively assigned to individuals based upon their "merits", namely intelligence, credentials, and education, determined through evaluations or...

, led to the introduction of the Imperial examination
Imperial examination
The Imperial examination was an examination system in Imperial China designed to select the best administrative officials for the state's bureaucracy. This system had a huge influence on both society and culture in Imperial China and was directly responsible for the creation of a class of...

 system in China. This system allowed anyone who passed an examination to become a government officer, a position which would bring wealth and honour to the whole family. The Chinese Imperial examination system seems to have been started in 165 BC, when certain candidates for public office were called to the Chinese capital for examination of their moral excellence by the emperor. Over the following centuries the system grew until finally almost anyone who wished to become an official had to prove his worth by passing written government examinations.

His achievement was the setting up of a school that produced statesmen with a strong sense of patriotism and duty, known as Rujia . During the Warring States Period
Warring States Period
The Warring States Period , also known as the Era of Warring States, or the Warring Kingdoms period, covers the Iron Age period from about 475 BC to the reunification of China under the Qin Dynasty in 221 BC...

 and the early Han Dynasty
Han Dynasty
The Han Dynasty was the second imperial dynasty of China, preceded by the Qin Dynasty and succeeded by the Three Kingdoms . It was founded by the rebel leader Liu Bang, known posthumously as Emperor Gaozu of Han. It was briefly interrupted by the Xin Dynasty of the former regent Wang Mang...

, China grew greatly and the need arose for a solid and centralized corporation of government officers able to read and write administrative papers. As a result, Confucianism was promoted by the emperor and the men its doctrines produced became an effective counter to the remaining feudal aristocrats who threatened the unity of the imperial state.

During the Han Dynasty, Confucianism developed from an ethical system into a political ideology used to legitimize the rule of the political elites. Most Chinese emperors used a mix of Legalism and Confucianism as their ruling doctrine, often with the latter embellishing the former. The practice of using the Confucian meritocracy to justify political actions continues in countries in the Sinosphere
Sinosphere
In areal linguistics, Sinosphere refers to a grouping of countries and regions that are currently inhabited with a majority of Chinese population or were historically under Chinese cultural influence...

, including post-economic liberalization People's Republic of China
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

, Chiang Kai-Shek
Chiang Kai-shek
Chiang Kai-shek was a political and military leader of 20th century China. He is known as Jiǎng Jièshí or Jiǎng Zhōngzhèng in Mandarin....

's Republic of China
Republic of China
The Republic of China , commonly known as Taiwan , is a unitary sovereign state located in East Asia. Originally based in mainland China, the Republic of China currently governs the island of Taiwan , which forms over 99% of its current territory, as well as Penghu, Kinmen, Matsu and other minor...

, and modern Singapore
Singapore
Singapore , officially the Republic of Singapore, is a Southeast Asian city-state off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, north of the equator. An island country made up of 63 islands, it is separated from Malaysia by the Straits of Johor to its north and from Indonesia's Riau Islands by the...

.

Influence in 17th-century Europe



The works of Confucius were translated into European languages through the agency of Jesuit scholars stationed in China. Matteo Ricci
Matteo Ricci
Matteo Ricci, SJ was an Italian Jesuit priest, and one of the founding figures of the Jesuit China Mission, as it existed in the 17th-18th centuries. His current title is Servant of God....

 started to report on the thoughts of Confucius, and father Prospero Intorcetta published the life and works of Confucius into Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 in 1687. Translations of Confucian texts influenced European thinkers of the period, particularly among the Deists and other philosophical groups of the Enlightenment
Age of Enlightenment
The Age of Enlightenment was an elite cultural movement of intellectuals in 18th century Europe that sought to mobilize the power of reason in order to reform society and advance knowledge. It promoted intellectual interchange and opposed intolerance and abuses in church and state...

 who were interested by the integration of the system of morality of Confucius into Western civilization
Western world
The Western world, also known as the West and the Occident , is a term referring to the countries of Western Europe , the countries of the Americas, as well all countries of Northern and Central Europe, Australia and New Zealand...

. Confucianism influenced Gottfried Leibniz
Gottfried Leibniz
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz was a German philosopher and mathematician. He wrote in different languages, primarily in Latin , French and German ....

, who was attracted to the philosophy because of its perceived similarity to his own. It is postulated that certain elements of Leibniz's philosophy, such as "simple substance" and "preestablished harmony", were borrowed from his interactions with Confucianism. The French philosopher Voltaire
Voltaire
François-Marie Arouet , better known by the pen name Voltaire , was a French Enlightenment writer, historian and philosopher famous for his wit and for his advocacy of civil liberties, including freedom of religion, free trade and separation of church and state...

 was also influenced by Confucius, seeing the concept of Confucian rationalism as an alternative to Christian dogma. He praised Confucian ethics and politics, portraying the sociopolitical hierarchy of China as a model for Europe.

Influence on Islamic Thought


From the late 17th century onwards a whole body of literature known as the Han Kitab
Han Kitab
The Han Kitab was a collection of Chinese Islamic texts, written by Chinese Muslims, which synthesized Islam and Confucianism. It was written in the early 18th century during the Qing dynasty. Its name is similarly synthesised: 'Han' is the Chinese word for Chinese, and 'kitab' means book in...

 developed amongst the Hui Muslims on China which infused Islamic thought with Confucianism. Especially the works of Liu Zhu like Tianfang dianli sought to harmonize Islam with not only Confucianism but Daoism and is considered of of the crowning achievements of the Chinese Muslim culture.

Influence in modern times


Important military and political figures in modern Chinese history continued to be influenced by Confucianism, like the Muslim warlord Ma Fuxiang
Ma Fuxiang
Ma Fuxiang . Ma, a Dongxiang muslim leader, had a military and political career which spanned the Qing dynasty through the early Republic of China and illustrated the power of family, the role of religious affiliations, and the interaction of Inner Asian China and the national government of...

. The New Life Movement
New Life Movement
The New Life Movement was set up by Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek and his wife Soong May-ling in February 1934, with the help of the Blue Shirts Society and the CC Clique within the Chinese Nationalist Party...

 relied heavily on Confucianism. The Kuomintang
Kuomintang
The Kuomintang of China , sometimes romanized as Guomindang via the Pinyin transcription system or GMD for short, and translated as the Chinese Nationalist Party is a founding and ruling political party of the Republic of China . Its guiding ideology is the Three Principles of the People, espoused...

 party purged China's education system of western ideas, introducing Confucianism into the curriculum. Education came under the total control of state, which meant, in effect, the Kuomintang party, via the Ministry of Education. Military and political classes on the Kuomintang's Three principles of the people were added. Textbooks, exams, degrees and educational instructors were all controlled by the state, as were all universities.

Criticism


For many years since the era of Confucius, there have generated various critiques against Confucianism, including Laozi
Laozi
Laozi was a mystic philosopher of ancient China, best known as the author of the Tao Te Ching . His association with the Tao Te Ching has led him to be traditionally considered the founder of Taoism...

's comment and Mozi
Mozi
Mozi |Lat.]] as Micius, ca. 470 BC – ca. 391 BC), original name Mo Di , was a Chinese philosopher during the Hundred Schools of Thought period . Born in Tengzhou, Shandong Province, China, he founded the school of Mohism, and argued strongly against Confucianism and Daoism...

's critique. Lu Xun
Lu Xun
Lu Xun or Lu Hsün , was the pen name of Zhou Shuren , one of the major Chinese writers of the 20th century. Considered by many to be the leading figure of modern Chinese literature, he wrote in baihua as well as classical Chinese...

 also criticised Confucianism heavily for shaping Chinese people into the state they became in the late Qing Dynasty
Qing Dynasty
The Qing Dynasty was the last dynasty of China, ruling from 1644 to 1912 with a brief, abortive restoration in 1917. It was preceded by the Ming Dynasty and followed by the Republic of China....

: this is greatly portrayed through his works A Madman's Diary
A Madman's Diary
"A Madman's Diary" was written in 1918 by Lu Xun, commonly considered one of the greatest writers in 20th-century Chinese literature. This short story is considered to be one of the first and most influential modern works written in vernacular Chinese...

 and The True Story of Ah Q
The True Story of Ah Q
The True Story of Ah Q , is an episodic novella written by Lu Xun, first published as a serial between December 4, 1921 and February 12, 1922. It was later placed in his first short story collection Call to Arms in 1923 and is the longest of the stories in the collection...

.

In modern times, waves of critique along with vilification against Confucianism arose. Taiping Rebellion
Taiping Rebellion
The Taiping Rebellion was a widespread civil war in southern China from 1850 to 1864, led by heterodox Christian convert Hong Xiuquan, who, having received visions, maintained that he was the younger brother of Jesus Christ, against the ruling Manchu-led Qing Dynasty...

, May Fourth Movement
May Fourth Movement
The May Fourth Movement was an anti-imperialist, cultural, and political movement growing out of student demonstrations in Beijing on May 4, 1919, protesting the Chinese government's weak response to the Treaty of Versailles, especially the Shandong Problem...

 and Cultural Revolution
Cultural Revolution
The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, commonly known as the Cultural Revolution , was a socio-political movement that took place in the People's Republic of China from 1966 through 1976...

 are some upsurges of those waves in China. Taiping rebels described many sages in Confucianism as well as gods in Taoism
Taoism
Taoism refers to a philosophical or religious tradition in which the basic concept is to establish harmony with the Tao , which is the mechanism of everything that exists...

 and Buddhism
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

 as bogie[?]. Marxists during Cultural Revolution described Confucius as the general representative of class of slave owners. Numerous opinions and interpretations of Confucianism of which many are actually opposed by Confucianism were invented.

Confucianism has a related principle idea called "He Er Bu Tong" (和而不同, peaceful but different or harmonious while diversified). Although people have differences in opinions, interests, preferences, profiles..., they should first keep peace, and people should live in harmony with each other and meanwhile keep their diversity. There are still other critique related Confucian ideas, e.g. If what others say is right and your fault is true, change it. If not, be careful of committing that kind of fault (有則改之,無則加勉), Learn others' virtues, and reflect on your own weak points when you see others (見賢思齊焉,見不賢而內自省).

Women in Confucian thought


Confucianism "largely defined the mainstream discourse on gender in China from the Han dynasty
Han Dynasty
The Han Dynasty was the second imperial dynasty of China, preceded by the Qin Dynasty and succeeded by the Three Kingdoms . It was founded by the rebel leader Liu Bang, known posthumously as Emperor Gaozu of Han. It was briefly interrupted by the Xin Dynasty of the former regent Wang Mang...

 onward," and its strict, obligatory gender roles as a cornerstone of family, and thus, societal stability, continue to shape social life throughout East Asia. Confucians taught that a virtuous woman was supposed to uphold “three subordinations”: be subordinate to her father before marriage, to her husband after marriage, and to her son after her husband died. Men could remarry and have concubines, whereas women were supposed to uphold the virtue of chastity when they lost their husbands. Chaste widows were revered as heroes during the Ming
Ming Dynasty
The Ming Dynasty, also Empire of the Great Ming, was the ruling dynasty of China from 1368 to 1644, following the collapse of the Mongol-led Yuan Dynasty. The Ming, "one of the greatest eras of orderly government and social stability in human history", was the last dynasty in China ruled by ethnic...

 and Qing
Qing Dynasty
The Qing Dynasty was the last dynasty of China, ruling from 1644 to 1912 with a brief, abortive restoration in 1917. It was preceded by the Ming Dynasty and followed by the Republic of China....

 periods, and were deemed so central to China’s culture and the fate of all peoples, the Yongle Emperor
Yongle Emperor
The Yongle Emperor , born Zhu Di , was the third emperor of the Ming Dynasty of China from 1402 to 1424. His Chinese era name Yongle means "Perpetual Happiness".He was the Prince of Yan , possessing a heavy military base in Beiping...

 distributed 10,000 copies of the Biographies of Exemplary Women
Lienü zhuan
The Lienü Zhuan is a ca. 18 BCE book compiled by the famous Han Dynasty scholar Liu Xiang. It includes 125 biographical accounts of women exemplars in early China, taken from Chinese histories like the Chun Qiu, Zuo Zhuan, and Shiji...

 to various non-Chinese countries for their moral instruction. The Biographies of Exemplary Women, or Lienü Zhuan
Lienü zhuan
The Lienü Zhuan is a ca. 18 BCE book compiled by the famous Han Dynasty scholar Liu Xiang. It includes 125 biographical accounts of women exemplars in early China, taken from Chinese histories like the Chun Qiu, Zuo Zhuan, and Shiji...

, served as Confucianism's seminal textbook for Chinese women for two millennia, but cementing the "cult of chastity" as an exemplar of Chinese superiority also condemned many widows to lives of "poverty and loneliness."

However, recent reexaminations of Chinese gender roles suggest that Daoism and the ying-yang dichotomy played an even greater part in stifling female roles, and that many women flourished within Confucianism. During the Han dynasty period, the important Confucian text Lessons for Women
Lessons for Women
Lessons for Women , also translated as Admonitions for Women, is a work by the Han Dynasty female intellectual Ban Zhao.-Outline:Lessons for Women outlines the four virtues a woman must abide by, proper virtue, proper speech, proper countenance, and proper conduct. The book itself describes the...

 (Nüjie), was written by Ban Zhao
Ban Zhao
Bān Zhāo , courtesy name Huiban , was the first known female Chinese historian. She completed her brother Ban Gu's work as he was imprisoned and executed in the year 92 BCE. because of his association with the family of Empress Dowager Dou. It was said her works could have filled eight volumes...

 (45-114 CE): by a woman, for women.
She wrote the Nüjie ostensibly for her daughters, instructing them on how to live proper Confucian lives as wives and mothers. Although this is a relatively rare instance of a female Confucian voice, Ban Zhao almost entirely accepts the prevailing views concerning women's proper roles; they should be silent, hard-working, and compliant. She stresses the complementarity and equal importance of the male and female roles according to yin-yang theory, but she clearly accepts the dominance of the yang-male. Her only departure from the standard male versions of this orthodoxy is that she insists on the necessity to educate girls and women. We should not underestimate the significance of this point, as education was the bottom line qualification for being a junzi or "noble person,"...her example suggests that the Confucian prescription for a meaningful life as a woman was apparently not stifling for all women. Even some women of the literate elite, for whom Confucianism was quite explicitly the norm, were able to flourish by living their lives according to that model.

Debate over classification


Ever since Europeans have encountered Confucianism, the issue of how Confucianism should be classified has been subject to debate. In the 16th and the 17th centuries, the earliest European arrivals in China, the Christian Jesuits, considered Confucianism as an ethical system, not a religion, and one that was compatible with Christianity. The Jesuits, including Matteo Ricci
Matteo Ricci
Matteo Ricci, SJ was an Italian Jesuit priest, and one of the founding figures of the Jesuit China Mission, as it existed in the 17th-18th centuries. His current title is Servant of God....

, saw Chinese rituals as "civil rituals" that could co-exist alongside the spiritual rituals of Catholicism. By the early 18th century, this initial portrayal was rejected by the Dominicans and Franciscans, creating a dispute among Catholics in East Asia that was known as the "Rites Controversy". The Dominicans and Franciscans argued that ancestral worship was a form of pagan idolatry that was contradictory to the tenets of Christianity. This view was reinforced by Pope Benedict XIV
Pope Benedict XIV
Pope Benedict XIV , born Prospero Lorenzo Lambertini, was Pope from 17 August 1740 to 3 May 1758.-Life:...

, who ordered a ban on Chinese rituals.

This debate continues into the modern era. There is consensus among scholars that, whether or not it is religious, Confucianism is definitively non-theistic. Confucianism is humanistic
Humanism
Humanism is an approach in study, philosophy, world view or practice that focuses on human values and concerns. In philosophy and social science, humanism is a perspective which affirms some notion of human nature, and is contrasted with anti-humanism....

, and does not involve a belief in the supernatural or in a personal god. On spirituality, Confucius said to Chi Lu, one of his students, that "You are not yet able to serve men, how can you serve spirits?" Attributes that are seen as religious—such as ancestor worship, ritual
Ritual
A ritual is a set of actions, performed mainly for their symbolic value. It may be prescribed by a religion or by the traditions of a community. The term usually excludes actions which are arbitrarily chosen by the performers....

, and sacrifice
Sacrifice
Sacrifice is the offering of food, objects or the lives of animals or people to God or the gods as an act of propitiation or worship.While sacrifice often implies ritual killing, the term offering can be used for bloodless sacrifices of cereal food or artifacts...

—were advocated by Confucius as necessary for social harmony; however, these attributes can be traced to the traditional non-Confucian Chinese beliefs of Chinese folk religion
Chinese folk religion
Chinese folk religion or Shenism , which is a term of considerable debate, are labels used to describe the collection of ethnic religious traditions which have been a main belief system in China and among Han Chinese ethnic groups for most of the civilization's history until today...

, and are also practiced by Daoists and Chinese Buddhists. Scholars recognize that classification ultimately depends on how one defines religion. Using stricter definitions of religion, Confucianism has been described as a moral science or philosophy. But using a broader definition, such as Frederick Streng's characterization of religion as "a means of ultimate transformation", Confucianism could be described as a "sociopolitical doctrine having religious qualities." With the latter definition, Confucianism is religious, even if non-theistic, in the sense that it "performs some of the basic psycho-social functions of full-fledged religions", in the same way that non-theistic ideologies like Communism
Communism
Communism is a social, political and economic ideology that aims at the establishment of a classless, moneyless, revolutionary and stateless socialist society structured upon common ownership of the means of production...

 do.

Names


Strictly speaking, there is no term in Chinese which directly corresponds to "Confucianism." Several different terms are used in different situations, several of which are of modern origin:
  • "School of the scholars"
  • "Teaching of the scholars"
  • "Study of the scholars"
  • "Teaching of Confucius"
  • "Kong Family's Business"


Three of these use the Chinese character 儒 rú, meaning "scholar". These names do not use the name "Confucius" at all, but instead center on the figure or ideal of the Confucian scholar; however, the suffixes of jiā, jiào, and xué carry different implications as to the nature of Confucianism itself.

Rújiā contains the character jiā, which literally means "house" or "family". In this context, it is more readily construed as meaning "school of thought", since it is also used to construct the names of philosophical schools contemporary with Confucianism: for example, the Chinese names for Legalism and Mohism
Mohism
Mohism or Moism was a Chinese philosophy developed by the followers of Mozi , 470 BC–c.391 BC...

 end in jiā.

Rújiào and Kǒngjiào contain the Chinese character jiào, the noun "teach", used in such as terms as "education", or "educator". The term, however, is notably used to construct the names of religions in Chinese: the terms for Islam, Judaism, Christianity, and other religions in Chinese all end with jiào.

Rúxué contains xué 'study'. The term is parallel to -ology in English, being used to construct the names of academic fields: the Chinese names of fields such as physics, chemistry, biology, political science, economics, and sociology all end in xué.

See also



  • Four Books
  • Five Classics
  • Thirteen Classics
    Thirteen Classics
    The Thirteen Classics is a term for the group of thirteen classics of Confucian tradition that became the basis for the Imperial Examinations during the Song Dynasty and have shaped much of East Asian culture and thought....

  • Neo-Confucianism
    Neo-Confucianism
    Neo-Confucianism is an ethical and metaphysical Chinese philosophy influenced by Confucianism, that was primarily developed during the Song Dynasty and Ming Dynasty, but which can be traced back to Han Yu and Li Ao in the Tang Dynasty....

  • Korean Confucianism
    Korean Confucianism
    Korean Confucianism is the form of Confucianism developed in Korea. One of the most substantial influences in Korean intellectual history was the introduction of Confucian thought as part of the cultural influence from China...

  • Neo-Confucianism in Japan
  • Confucianism in Indonesia
    Confucianism in Indonesia
    Established in 1955, the Supreme Council for Confucian Religion in Indonesia , is a religious organization to promote the development of the teaching of Confucius.-History:...

  • Wen Tianxiang
    Wen Tianxiang
    Wen Tianxiang , Duke of Xinguo, was a scholar-general in the last years of the Southern Song Dynasty. For his resistance to Kublai Khan's invasion of the Song, and for his refusal to yield to the Yuan Dynasty despite being captured and tortured, he is a popular symbol of patriotism and...

  • Temple of Confucius
    Temple of Confucius
    A Temple of Confucius or Confucian temple is a temple devoted to the memory of Confucius and the sages and philosophers of Confucianism.- History :...

  • Confucian view of marriage
    Confucian view of marriage
    To the Confucians, marriage is of important significance both in the family and in society. In the perspective of family, marriage can bring families of different surnames together, and continue the family life of the concerned clans. Therefore, only the benefits and demerits of the clans, instead...

  • Confucian art
    Confucian art
    Confucian art is art inspired by the writings of Confucius, and Confucian teachings. Confucian art originated in China, then spread westwards on the Silk road, southward down to southern China and then onto Southeast Asia, and eastwards through northern China on to Japan and Korea. It still...

  • Boston Confucians
    Boston Confucians
    Boston Confucians are a group of "New Confucians" from Boston, of whom the best known are Tu Wei-Ming of Harvard and Robert Neville of Boston University....



The Analects (Lun Yu)

  • Confucian Analects (1893) Translated by James Legge.
  • The Analects of Confucius (1915; rpr. NY: Paragon, 1968). Translated by William Edward Soothill.
  • The Analects of Confucius: A Philosophical Translation (New York: Ballantine, 1998). Translated by Roger T. Ames, Henry Rosemont.
  • The Original Analects: Sayings of Confucius and His Successors (New York: Columbia University Press, 1998). Translated by E. Bruce Brooks, A. Taeko Brooks.
  • The Analects of Confucius (New York: W.W. Norton, 1997). Translated by Simon Leys
  • Analects: With Selections from Traditional Commentaries (Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing, 2003). Translated by Edward Slingerland.

External links