ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

What is Confucianism?

Updated on August 24, 2010

Who was Confucius?

Confucius, or K'ung Fu-tzu (550-479 B.C.) taught that if people would treat each other as they would like to be treated themselves, everybody would be happier. For more than two thousand years, his teaching was the state religion of China.

He founded a school where he taught his beliefs, but what he really wanted to do was become an adviser to a prince, for he believed that with the example of a good ruler, people would themselves become good. When he was made governor of the town of Chung-tu, he put his theory into practice, and people did in fact treat each other with greater courtesy and honesty. Confucius lived to be an old man. He wrote little himself, but he was always surrounded by his pupils, and it is through their writings that we know of his sayings.

Confucianism is the ethical and social system based on the teachings of Confucius and his followers. Its ideals have been central to the culture of China for more than 2,000 years.

Confucianism, like Taoism, developed in reaction to the social disruption caused by civil wars among small feudal states in the Warring States period from the 5th to the 3d century B.C. Also like Taoism, it began as an ethical philosophy seeking peace and harmony but gradually became mixed with older Chinese traditions to form a religion. Both Confucianism and Taoism saw the natural goodness of man as providing the basic cure for the ills of society. Confucianism, however, taught that such goodness should be encouraged by elaborate social etiquette, conscientious fulfillment of official duties within a centralized government, and formal study of the wisdom of the past, in contrast to Taoism's appeal to the emotional and contemplative qualities of the solitary individual.

Confucianism stresses five fundamental relationships between people: (1) ruler and subject; (2) parent and child; (3) husband and wife; (4) brother and brother; and (5) friend and friend. The two most important virtues for properly maintaining these relationships are it, which may be described as propriety or etiquette, and jen, which is love or compassion. In family relationships, for example, li and jen require that parents and children live in an orderly harmony based on mutual courtesy and kindness. Confucianists teach that as long as these virtues are applied in the proper manner in each of the five relationships, a stable and happy society will result. A basic standard of behavior is the Golden Rule of Confucius: "What you would not have done to you, do not do to another."

Confucianists believe that political reform must begin at the top of society, with rulers who set a good example for their people. Confucianists claim that good laws are not sufficient, because unrighteous men will always pervert them to their own advantage.

The most important Confucian writings are the two collections called the Five Classics and the Four Books. In the Five Classics many historical records, rituals, and revered poems of ancient China have been preserved. One of these, the Spring and Autumn Annals, is the only work that most scholars agree was written by Confucius himself. The Four Books set forth the moral and religious doctrines of Confucianism in its early writings. These are believed to have been composed by followers of Confucius.

Confucianism began to gain strength shortly after the death of Confucius in 479 B.C. His greatest follower was Mencius, who lived about a hundred years later. Mencius emphasized the rights of the people in relation to their rulers. He saw the importance of economic advance in the moral improvement of social life and advocated such policies as conservation of natural resources and use of more efficient farming methods.

Under the Han emperor Wu Ti in the 2nd century B.C., Confucianism was adopted by the state as a means of unifying the people. Laws were based on Confucian principles, and candidates for government offices were required to pass state examinations in the Confucian classics. Confucius was worshiped along with Heaven, Earth, the emperor, and ancestors. The Confucian system dominated China until the early 20th century and deeply influenced Korea and Japan.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)