Confucius And Confucianism Essay Research Paper Confucius

Confucius And Confucianism Essay, Research Paper

Confucius and Confucianism


Confucius was believed to have been born in 551 BC., in the state

of Lu, known today as the Shandong province. His parents, who died

while he was a child, named him Kong Qui. Confucius was derived from

the Latin word Kongfuzi which means Great Master Kong. Confucius was

the most influential and respected philosopher in Chinese history.

His ideas were the single strongest influence on Chinese society from

around 100 BC. to the AD. 1900’s. The Chinese government made his

ideas the official state philosophy and many nearby countries honored

his beliefs.

Confucius wanted to gain the position as an adviser to a wise

ruler, but he failed. He hoped to do this in order to be able to

employ his ideas for reforming society. If it wasn’t for the

disciples of Confucius his teachings would have never been spread

around China, and he would have never been made known. His teachings

were never written down by him, but his conversations and sayings were

written down by his disciples in the analects.


Confucianism was the single most important thing in Chinese life.

It affected everything in China; education, government, and

attitudes toward behavior in public and private life. Confucianism is

not a religion, but it is more a philosophy and a guide to morality

and good government. At the time Confucius was born, China was in a

constant state of war, and rapid political change altered the

structure of Chinese society so much that people no longer respected

the established behavioral guidelines. Confucius stated that the ideal

person was one of good moral character. The ideal person was also

truly reverent in worship and sincerely respected his father and his

ruler. He was expected to think for himself, guided by definite rules

of conduct. As Confucius said, he was expected to take “as much

trouble to discover what was right as lesser men take to discover what

will pay”. Confucius believed that this type of behavior by rulers

had a greater effect on the people than did laws or codes of

punishment. So when these types of people were rulers, their moral

example would inspire the people to lead good lives.

Confucius died sometime around 479 B.C., and his philosophy was

not very well known. If it weren’t for his disciples his ideas would

probably still be unknown. Confucius never wrote anything down

himself; his disciples wrote all of his sayings down in a collection

of books called the Analects. These contain all that modern day man

knows about Confucius.

There existed two important Confucian philosophers-Mencius

(390-305 BC) and Xunzi (mid 200’s B.C.). They held beliefs similar

to Confucius but they were somewhat different. Mencius’s viewpoint

was that people were born good, and that they had to “preserve the

natural compassion of the heart”. Xunzi opposed this by saying that

people could be good and live peacefully only if their minds were

shaped by education and conduct. Both of these ideas parallel

Confucius’, in that they both state that people can be good.

Confucianism was concerned primarily with the needs of society,

and unlike Buddhism and Taoism, not the ability for a person to live

in harmony with nature. Beginning in the 200’s B.C. Buddhism and

Taoism began to affect and reshape the standards of Confucianism, and

things such as nature came into play. Around A.D. 200 to 600, there

was a rapid decline in the Confucian Beliefs in China. This was

partly because Confucianism now had to compete with Buddhism and

Taoism, which were developed around this time. These religions

were to Confucianism as night is to day, in other words, they were

exact opposites. Buddhism and Taoism were largely concerned with the

meaning of suffering and death, while Confucianism largely ignored


The revival of Confucianism began around the 600’s and was fully

revived by the 700’s. In the 1100’s, there was a movement lead by

Zhu-Xi called the Neo-Confucianism movement. He developed a branch of

this movement known as the rational-wing, it dealt with the study of

Li, the relationship between humans and nature. Another branch was

called the intuitional-wing and it dealt mostly with enlightenment by

a combination of meditation and moral action. In the 1900’s there

was a clash between Confucianism and Western beliefs such as

Communism. For many years after the Communist change in China, the

Government greatly opposed Confucianism because it tended to look into

the past rather than to the future. However, all government opposition

ended in 1977.


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