• In his life, Zhu Xi was largely ignored, but not long after his death, his ideas became the new orthodox view of what Confucian texts actually meant.

  • Because his vision of personal and social perfections was framed as a revival of the ordered society of earlier times, Confucius is often considered a great proponent of conservatism,
    but a closer look at what he proposes often shows that he used (and perhaps twisted) past institutions and rites to push a new political agenda of his own: a revival of a unified royal state, whose rulers would succeed to power on the basis
    of their moral merits instead of lineage.

  • [citation needed] One of his teachings was a variant of the Golden Rule, sometimes called the “Silver Rule” owing to its negative form: Zi Gong [a disciple] asked: “Is there
    any one word that could guide a person throughout life?”

  • [46] Confucius disapproved the use of a violent revolution by principle, even though the Ji family dominated the Lu state by force for generations and had exiled the previous

  • [68] These efforts spread Confucian ideals to students who then became officials in many of the royal courts in China, thereby giving Confucianism the first wide-scale test
    of its dogma.

  • [citation needed] Confucius looked nostalgically upon earlier days, and urged the Chinese, particularly those with political power, to model themselves on earlier examples.

  • Lau) By not asking about the horses, Confucius demonstrates that the sage values human beings over property (which animals seem to represent in this example); readers are
    led to reflect on whether their response would follow Confucius’s and to pursue self-improvement if it would not have.

  • [43] By then, Confucius had built up a considerable reputation through his teachings, while the families came to see the value of proper conduct and righteousness, so they
    could achieve loyalty to a legitimate government.

  • [80] Even though Confucius denounced them for their practices, the aristocracy was likely attracted to the idea of having trustworthy officials who were studied in morals
    as the circumstances of the time made it desirable.

  • While pursuing one’s own self-interest is not necessarily bad, one would be a better, more righteous person if one’s life was based upon following a path designed to enhance
    the greater good.

  • These would be rulers devoted to their people, striving for personal and social perfection, and such a ruler would spread his own virtues to the people instead of imposing
    proper behavior with laws and rules.

  • [citation needed] While Confucius supported the idea of government ruling by a virtuous king, his ideas contained a number of elements to limit the power of rulers.

  • [45] Earlier, Gongshan had approached Confucius to join him, which Confucius considered as he wanted the opportunity to put his principles into practice but he gave up on
    the idea in the end.

  • As Mohism lost support by the time of the Han, the main philosophical contenders were Legalism, which Confucian thought somewhat absorbed, the teachings of Laozi, whose focus
    on more spiritual ideas kept it from direct conflict with Confucianism, and the new Buddhist religion, which gained acceptance during the Southern and Northern Dynasties era.

  • [53] Thus, Confucius could not achieve the idealistic reforms that he wanted including restoration of the legitimate rule of the duke.

  • Modern historians view Zhu Xi as having created something rather different and call his way of thinking Neo-Confucianism.

  • [55] Exile Map showing the journey of Confucius to various states between 497 BCE and 484 BCE The Shiji stated that the neighboring Qi state was worried that Lu was becoming
    too powerful while Confucius was involved in the government of the Lu state.

  • [citation needed] Two of Confucius’s most famous later followers emphasized radically different aspects of his teachings.

  • Soon after, the duke neglected to send to Confucius a portion of the sacrificial meat that was his due according to custom, and Confucius seized upon this pretext to leave
    both his post and the Lu state.

  • [citation needed] During his return, Confucius sometimes acted as an advisor to several government officials in Lu, including Ji Kangzi, on matters including governance and

  • When the Confucian advisers pressed their point, Li Si had many Confucian scholars killed and their books burned—considered a huge blow to the philosophy and Chinese scholarship.

  • Far from trying to build a systematic or formalist theory, he wanted his disciples to master and internalize older classics, so that their deep thought and thorough study
    would allow them to relate the moral problems of the present to past political events (as recorded in the Annals) or the past expressions of commoners’ feelings and noblemen’s reflections (as in the poems of the Book of Odes).

  • Confucius was disappointed and resolved to leave Lu and seek better opportunities, yet to leave at once would expose the misbehavior of the duke and therefore bring public
    humiliation to the ruler Confucius was serving.

  • [citation needed] Confucius believed that if a ruler is to lead correctly, by action, that orders would be unnecessary in that others will follow the proper actions of their

  • [62] Politics Confucius’s political thought is based upon his ethical thought.

  • [24] Confucius considered himself a transmitter for the values of earlier periods which he claimed had been abandoned in his time.

  • [citation needed] A disagreement between these two political philosophies came to a head in 223 BCE when the Qin state conquered all of China.

  • His “courtesy name”, a capping (guan) given at his coming of age ceremony,[27] and by which he would have been known to all but his older family members, was Zhongni, the
    “Zhòng” indicating that he was the second son in his family.

  • [59] The Analects depict him spending his last years teaching 72 or 77 disciples and transmitting the old wisdom via a set of texts called the Five Classics.

  • [45] The situation may have been in favor for Confucius as this likely made it possible for Confucius and his disciples to convince the aristocratic families to dismantle
    the fortifications of their cities.

  • [citation needed] Philosophy Although Confucianism is often followed in a religious manner by the Chinese, many argue that its values are secular and that it is, therefore,
    less a religion than a secular morality.

  • [77] Confucius considered his students’ personal background irrelevant, and accepted noblemen, commoners, and even former criminals such as Yan Zhuoju and Gongye Chang.

  • Under Wudi, the works of Confucius were made the official imperial philosophy and required reading for civil service examinations in 140 BCE which was continued nearly unbroken
    until the end of the 19th century.

  • [80] As a likely consequence, it was after this that the first disciples of Confucius were appointed to government positions.

  • [78] Under Confucius’s teachings, the disciples became well learned in the principles and methods of government.

  • [82] Even though the Ji family had practices with which Confucius disagreed and disapproved, they nonetheless gave Confucius’s disciples many opportunities for employm

  • [26][28] Life Early life Lu can be seen in China’s northeast.

  • [38] Qiguan and Confucius later had two daughters together, one of whom is thought to have died as a child and one was named Kong Jiao.

  • He explained that this is one of the most important analects: “If the people be led by laws, and uniformity sought to be given them by punishments, they will try to avoid
    the punishment, but have no sense of shame.

  • Some believed that lǐ originated from the heavens, but Confucius stressed the development of lǐ through the actions of sage leaders in human history.

  • [47] Whatever the situation may have been, Gongshan was considered an upright man who continued to defend the state of Lu, even after he was forced to flee.

  • [81] By the time Confucius was 50 years old, the Ji family had consolidated their power in the Lu state over the ruling ducal house.

  • Born: Kǒng Qiū, c. 551 BCE, Zou, State of Lu, (modern-day Nanxin [zh], Qufu, Shandong, China); Died: c. 479 BCE (aged 71–72), Si River, State of Lu; Resting place: Cemetery
    of Confucius, State of Lu; Spouse: Lady Qiguan; Children: Kong Li (son), Kong Jiao (daughter); Family: Shuliang He (father), Yan Zhengzai (mother); Era: Hundred Schools of Thought, (Ancient philosophy); Region: Chinese philosophy; School:
    Confucianism; Notable students: Yan Hui, Zengzi, Disciples of Confucius; Main interests: Ethics, education, music,[1] poetry,[2] political philosophy, Social philosophy; Notable ideas: Confucianism, Golden Rule; Chinese name: Hanyu Pinyin:
    Kǒngzǐ; Literal meaning: “Master Kǒng”; Kong Qiu: Hanyu Pinyin: Kǒng Qiū Name The name “Confucius” is a Latinized form of the Mandarin Chinese Kǒng Fūzǐ (“Master Kong”), and was coined in the late 16th century by the early Jesuit missionaries
    to China.

  • [citation needed] This realignment in Confucian thought was parallel to the development of Legalism, which saw filial piety as self-interest and not a useful tool for a ruler
    to create an effective state.

  • [51] Even though Viscount Meng Yi gave his word not to interfere with an attempt, he went back on his earlier promise to dismantle the walls.

  • A good example is found in this famous anecdote: When the stables were burnt down, on returning from court Confucius said, “Was anyone hurt?”

  • He argued that the best government is one that rules through “rites” (lǐ) and people’s natural morality, and not by using bribery and coercion.

  • Confucius believed in ruling by example, if you lead correctly, orders by force or punishment are not necessary.

  • [46] Creel (1949) states that, unlike the rebel Yang Hu before him, Gongshan may have sought to destroy the three hereditary families and restore the power of the duke.

  • [70][72] In the modern era Confucian movements, such as New Confucianism, still exist, but during the Cultural Revolution, Confucianism was frequently attacked by leading
    figures in the Chinese Communist Party.

  • [citation needed] The Confucian theory of ethics as exemplified in lǐ is based on three important conceptual aspects of life: (a) ceremonies associated with sacrifice to ancestors
    and deities of various types, (b) social and political institutions, and (c) the etiquette of daily behavior.

  • Confucius’s moral system was based upon empathy and understanding others, rather than divinely ordained rules.

  • [80] He often engaged in discussion and debate with his students and gave high importance to their studies in history, poetry, and ritual.

  • [54] He had made powerful enemies within the state, especially with Viscount Ji Huan, due to his successes so far.

  • Rites serve as the starting point for each individual and that these sacred social functions allow each person’s human nature to be harmonious with reality.

  • [75] Disciples Main article: Disciples of Confucius Zengzi (right) kneeling before Confucius (center), as depicted in a painting from the Illustrations of the Classic of Filial
    Piety, Song dynasty Confucius began teaching after he turned 30, and taught more than 3,000 students in his life, about 70 of whom were considered outstanding.

  • [57] According to this account, Qi decided to sabotage Lu’s reforms by sending 100 good horses and 80 beautiful dancing girls to the duke of Lu.

  • His disciples and the early Confucian community they formed became the most influential intellectual force in the Warring States period.

  • His discussions of lǐ seem to redefine the term to refer to all actions committed by a person to build the ideal society, rather than those conforming with canonical standards
    of ceremony.

  • In discussing the relationship between a king and his subject (or a father and his son), he underlined the need to give due respect to superiors.

  • After the collapse of Qin and the victory of Han over Chu, Confucius’s thoughts received official sanction in the new government.

  • Confucianism was part of the Chinese social fabric and way of life; to Confucians, everyday life was the arena of religion.

  • “[65] Legacy Confucius’s teachings were later turned into an elaborate set of rules and practices by his numerous disciples and followers, who organized his teachings into
    the Analects.

  • [64] In the Analects, Confucius described the importance of the art in the development of society:[65] The Master said, “My children, why do you not study the Book of Poetry?

  • [71] It is thought that such works had considerable importance on European thinkers of the period, particularly among the Deists and other philosophical groups of the Enlightenment
    who were interested by the integration of the system of morality of Confucius into Western civilization.

  • [41] Political career In Confucius’s time, the state of Lu was headed by a ruling ducal house.

  • If they be led by virtue, and uniformity sought to be given them by the rules of propriety, they will have the sense of the shame, and moreover will become good.”

  • [citation needed] Confucius’s works are studied by scholars in many other Asian countries, particularly those in the Chinese cultural sphere, such as Korea, Japan, and Vietnam.

  • Matteo Ricci started to report on the thoughts of Confucius, and a team of Jesuits—Prospero Intorcetta, Philippe Couplet, and two others—published a translation of several
    Confucian works and an overview of Chinese history in Paris in 1687.

  • He puts the greatest emphasis on the importance of study, and it is the Chinese character for study that opens the text.

  • [44] Thus, that year (501 BCE), Confucius came to be appointed to the minor position of governor of a town.

  • [33][34][35][36] Traditional accounts of Confucius’s life relate that Kong He’s grandfather had migrated the family from Song to Lu.


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