Chinese Culture: Confucius Philosophy


Confucius was not well-known in his own time, but his teachings were used by the State from 202 BCE (the start of the Han dynasty) all the way through to 1911, when the imperial period ended. His teachings were revered, as was Confucius himself. Throughout most of China’s history, Confucius was considered the greatest sage. Confucius is the Latinized form of K’ung-fu-tzu (Master K’ung) that was given to a wandering scholar from Lu in the Shandong province. Shandong is in Northeastern China.

11921636673_40015ca8a8_bConfucius advocated for people to know their place, and for leaders to be virtuous, as they were in the golden antiquity. He was disturbed by the constant warfare throughout China. Confucius outline five relationships, that were between:
*Ruler and ruled
*Husband and wife
*Parents and children
*Older and younger brothers

Excepting the last one, these are all superior-inferior relationships. Unquestioning obedience and loyalty were expected on the part of the inferior, and benevolence were expected on the part of the superior. In Confucianism, the ideal family included three to four generations. The older male members held authority.

Confucious wrote five books in his later year,s that became known collectively as the Five Classics.
*Classic of Changes’, or `I Ching’
*Classic of History
*Classic of Poetry
*Record of Rites
*Spring and Autumn Annals

These books were not only studied but memorised by Confucius scholars for many generations in China. The series along with four other books (one being a compilation of Confucius teaching Analects) were used as the basis of examinations for civil service for more than 2000 years.

While Western scholars saw Confucianism as a sexist, patriarchal ideology up until the mid-1990’s, further research showed that the role of women in this ideology was more varied and nuanced than initially thought. ‘Chunqiu Fanlu’ – a Confucius text – suggests a more equal partnership between husbands and wives.