2 minute read


History Of Confucianism

Confucius (551–479 B.C.E.) is renowned as a philosopher and educator, but little attention is given to his roles as researcher, statesman, change agent, social planner, social innovator, enabler, and spiritual advocate. He is said to have spent nearly thirty years touring various states in China, advising local rulers of social reforms but receiving no real opportunities to actualize his political and social vision. It is widely believed that during his old age, Confucius edited several ancient works that later formed the basic canon of Chinese scholarship, such as The Book of Odes (Shi-Ching). The method that he developed offers a means to transform individuals, families, communities, and nations into a harmonious universal society.

Since the second-century B.C.E., Confucianism has strongly influenced Chinese political, and ultimately social and intellectual, behaviors. When the Chinese came into contact with Indian Buddhism around the first century C.E., the programmatic side of Confucianism responded, and they developed a spiritual discipline called Ch'an (meditation), which Japan adopted around 1200 C.E. as Zen. Zen is thus a unique blend of the philosophies and idiosyncrasies of four different cultures: the typical way of Japanese life, Buddhism of India, the Taoists' love of nature, and the pragmatism of the Confucian mentality.

Since the eleventh century, Buddhism and Taoism have been better known for their increasingly religious content rather than as schools of philosophies. They forced Confucians to find metaphysical and epistemological foundations for their ethics. Chinese scholars have incorporated Western concepts and methods into their studies. The Western and Eastern cultures have been integrated and resulted in some eclectic new systems of thought. This integration led to three major eclectic schools in modern Chinese philosophy. The first is the school of comprehensive synthesis, which takes any philosophical view it finds useful and profound, and offers insights into cosmic existence and human nature. The second is the school of contemporary neo-Confucian synthesis, which emphasizes the idealist school of inquiry into the "mind." The third is the Chinese scholastic synthesis school, the principal concept of which is benevolence, through which a person is capable of endless development.

The different strands of thought within Confucianism notwithstanding, the overall vision is to revitalize the human virtue of Te (an ethical code of loving and caring). Confucianism seeks to enable people to assume responsibilities to carry out the dual aim of cultivating the individual self and contributing to the attainment of an ideal, harmonious society.

Additional topics

Marriage and Family EncyclopediaMarriage: Cultural AspectsConfucianism - History Of Confucianism, Confucian Worldview, Confucian Meditation And Family Integration, Confucian Family Teaching, Stages And Rituals Of Life Transformation