between individual variety and social harmony.
The Main Theme
Wisdom inside and kindness outside:
The wise man admires water, the kind
man admires mountains.
The wise man moves, the kind man rests.
The wise man is happy, the kind man is
Keys to Success
Virtuous life and adherence to performing your duties
Three Main Principles
– humaneness, love of fellow men; the central virtue of
Confucianism and the most important characteristic of the ideal man
Li – morality, uprightness,
custom, observing rules
Chi – virtuous life
The practice of jen is governed
by li: To conquer oneself and turn to
li; that is humaneness.
Five Pairs of Social
Jen, you must maintain decent
relationships (wu-lun) with people, especially in the five pairs
of social roles:
Between father and son
Between the ruler and the subject
Between the older and the younger
Between husband and wife
Practicing Jen – "doing without a purpose" because you must, not
because you want.
Do unto others as you would have others do unto you (mutuality)
Chung: Don't do unto others as you wouldn't have others do unto
What is Confucianism?
Confucianism is the moral and religious system
China. Its origins go back to the Analects, the sayings attributed
Confucius, and to ancient
commentaries, including that of Mencius.
Early History and Precepts
The Columbia Encyclopedia.
In its early form (before the 3d cent. B.C.)
Confucianism was primarily a system of ethical precepts for the proper
management of society. It envisaged man as essentially a social creature who
is bound to his fellows by jen, a term often rendered as “humanity,”
Jen is expressed through the five relations—sovereign and subject,
parent and child, elder and younger brother, husband and wife, and friend
and friend. Of these, the filial relation is usually stressed.
The relations are made to function smoothly by
an exact adherence to li, which denotes a combination of etiquette
and ritual. In some of these relations a person may be superior to some and
inferior to others. If a person in a subordinate status wishes to be
properly treated that person must—applying a principle similar to the Golden
Rule—treat his or her own inferiors with propriety. Correct conduct,
however, proceeds not through compulsion, but through a sense of virtue
inculcated by observing suitable models of deportment. The ruler, as the
moral exemplar of the whole state, must be irreproachable, but a strong
obligation to be virtuous rests upon all.
The early philosophers recognized that the
epochal “great commonwealth,” the union of mankind under ethical rule, would
take a long time to achieve, but believed that it might be constantly
advanced by practicing the “rectification of names.” This is the critical
examination of the degree to which the behavior of a functionary or an
institution corresponds to its name; thus, the title of king should not be
applied to one who exacts excessive taxes, and the criticism of the
undeserving claimant should force him to reform. The practice of offering
sacrifices and other veneration to
in special shrines began in the 1st cent. A.D. and continued into the 20th
Renaissance and Decline
The Columbia Encyclopedia.
Confucianism has often had to contend with
other religious systems, notably Taoism
Buddhism, and has at times, especially
from the 3d to the 7th cent., suffered marked declines. It enjoyed a
renaissance in the late T’ang dynasty (618–906), but it was not until the
Sung dynasty (960–1279) and the appearance of neo-Confucianism that
Confucianism became the dominant philosophy among educated Chinese. Drawing
on Taoist and Buddhist ideas, neo-Confucian thinkers formulated a system of
metaphysics, which had not been a part of older Confucianism. They were
particularly influenced by Ch’an or Zen
Buddhism: nevertheless they rejected the Taoist search for immortality and
Buddhist monasticism and ethical universalism, upholding instead the
hierarchical political and social vision of the early Confucian teachings.
The neo-Confucian eclecticism was unified and
established as an orthodoxy by Chu Hsi (1130–1200), and his system dominated
subsequent Chinese intellectual life. His metaphysics is based on the
concept of li,
or principle of form in manifold things, and the totality of these, called
the “supreme ultimate” (t’ai chi). During the Ming dynasty, the
idealist school of Wang Yang-ming (1472–1529) stressed
meditation and intuitive knowledge. The overthrow (1911–12) of the
monarchy, with which Confucianism had been closely identified, led to the
disintegration of Confucian institutions and a decline of Confucian
traditions, a process accelerated after the Communist revolution (1949).
Elements of Confucianism survived as a part of traditional Chinese religious
practice in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macao and among Chinese emigrants and
have experienced a modest revival in China since the mid-1990s.