Confucianism is a philosophy arisen in 6th-century BCE China, i beg your pardon is thought about by some a secular-humanist belief system, by some a religion, and also by rather a society code. The broad range of topics touched on by Confucianism lends chin to all three of these interpretations relying on which elements one concentrates on.

You are watching: In what key way did confucianism shape the han dynasty

The philosophy is based on the belief that people are basically good, the they communicate in immoral behavior through lack of a strong moral standard, and also that follow to an ethical code, and also rituals which encourage it, enabled one come live a productive and also tranquil life of tranquility which would interpret to a strong, ethical, and also prosperous state.

Remove AdsAdvertisement

It was established by Confucius (K"ung-fu-Tze, Kong Fuzi, “Master Kong”, l. 551-479 BCE), a Chinese philosopher of the Spring and Autumn period (c. 772-476 BCE). Confucius is considered among the best philosophers of the Hundred institutions of assumed (also offered as the Contention of the Hundred colleges of Thought) which referrals the time during the Spring and also Autumn duration and Warring States duration (c. 481-221 BCE) when various philosophical schools contended with each various other for adherents. That is, without a doubt, the most prominent philosopher in China"s background whose views, precepts, and also concepts have informed Chinese society for end 2,000 years.

Confucius himself declared to have written nothing and offered nothing new, insisting his views to be taken from older works (known as the 5 Classics) that was simply popularizing through his school. The later on Confucian philosopher and also scholar Mencius (Mang-Tze, l. 372-289 BCE), however, meeting the Five classics to Confucius, a view that continued to be hosted until the mid-20th century CE. These works, 3 others top top Confucian thought, and one by Mencius consist of The 4 Books and Five standards which have actually been the foundational messages of Chinese culture since the moment of the Han dynasty (202 BCE-220 CE) when Confucianism to be made the state philosophy. The four Books and Five standards are:

Remove AdsAdvertisement
The publication of Rites (also offered as The book of good Learning)The theory of the MeanThe Analects of ConfuciusThe works of MenciusThe I-ChingThe standards of PoetryThe standards of RitesThe classics of HistoryThe Spring and Autumn Annals

The Five standards are deadline to writers of the Zhou empire (1046-256 BCE) which was in a duration of decrease during Confucius" lifetime. It might be that he did edit or review the 5 Classics, together tradition has held, but, even if he did not, he definitely popularized your concepts. His Analects, Books that Rites, and also Doctrine that the Mean were composed by his students based on his lectures and class discussions.

Confucian thought would seamlessly blend through Chinese culture after the Han claimed it the state philosophy.

The Warring States duration concluded v the success of the state the Qin end the others and also the establishment of the Qin dynasty (221-206 BCE) which adopted the approach of Legalism and banned all others. Confucian works were outlawed and also burned together with those of any type of other non-Legalist philosophers. Copies of the banned works just survived due to the fact that they were hidden by intellectuals at good personal risk. The Han Dynasty, which prospered the Qin, motivated greater liberty of speech, developed The four Books and Five classics as compelled reading for bureaucratic positions which led to a wider dissemination that Confucian thought which would certainly seamlessly blend v Chinese society after the Han asserted it the state philosophy.

Love History?

Sign up for our cost-free weekly email newsletter!

Historical lift & job in Lu

Shortly after its founding, the Zhou empire decentralized the Chinese federal government by sending lords, faithful to the king, to establish their very own states throughout the substantial territory. This policy functioned well at first, however eventually, the states grew much more powerful 보다 the king, and also the old loyalties were forgotten. Through c. 771 BCE, the Zhou empire was already weakened virtually to the suggest of irrelevancy when barbaric invasions forced the federal government to move east for much better defense. This to be the finish of the so-called west Zhou duration (1046-771 BCE) and the start of the east Zhou period (771-256 BCE) which coincides to the Spring and also Autumn duration and early Warring States period during which Confucius lived and taught.

Confucius was born in September 551 BCE in the village of Qufu, State of Lu (Shandong Province), the son of a military commander named Kong He that was of noble descent. Confucius" birth name was Kong Qui, however he would later be addressed as master Kong (Kong Fuzi) which was Latinized by 16th-century CE Christian missionaries come Confucius. His father died when the was three years old and also the resultant loss of income led to a life the poverty. He later attended school while working various jobs to support himself and also his mommy until she passed away when that was approximately 23 years old. Through this time, the was currently married and had at the very least one son and possibly 2 daughters.

Remove AdsAdvertisement


He had actually been provided with simple education, as identified by the Zhou Dynasty, in the 6 Arts – Rites, Music, Archery, Charioteering, Calligraphy, and also Mathematics – however had taken the upon self to enhance on his understanding in every one of these through private study. Scholar Forrest E. Baird notes, “possessed the a deep love of discovering by age fifteen, Confucius became one of the best-educated males of the day by his mid-twenties” (284). Married, and also with a family members to support, Confucius take it the qualifying test for federal government work together a teacher and, as Baird notes, pursued his score of a coherent life in a worthy profession:

His threefold experienced goal crystalized at an early stage – to offer in government, come teach others, and also to transmit come posterity the splendid society of the Zhou Dynasty…He had a special fondness because that poetry and music and was expert in the performance of the latter. His call for excellent teaching was developed by the age of thirty. Together a teacher, Confucius rejected vocationalism while pioneering a liberal education and learning that was solid in ethics, history, literature, and also the fine arts. He admitted any student who might afford the token tuition – a bundle that dried meat. (284)

Confucius taught and also was associated in government at the regional level, at one suggest serving together magistrate (or governor) the his city under the management of the duke of Lu. A political struggle amongst three the the top families and the fight it out of Lu"s personal failings caused Confucius to shed interest in his work-related in Lu. He had attempted come teach the ruling course that they could live happier, an ext fulfilling resides by observing ideal conduct in accordance v a ethical code which would an outcome in effective and just government, yet the upper course was not interested in following his advice. He resigned indigenous his position and left the state the Lu to try making converts elsewhere.

This was a chaotic era in i beg your pardon the states combated each other for supremacy and many of the long-established elements of government, including bureaucratic positions, shed cohesion. Administrators, advisers, scholars, and also teachers who when held government posts, discovered themselves jobless and also so created their own schools based upon their personal philosophies. Several of these to be actual institutions in i beg your pardon students would enroll and also attend classes while rather were more “schools of thought” or motions but, collectively, their initiatives to entice students come their device while discrediting others" would later come to be known as the time of the Hundred institutions of Thought.

Remove AdsAdvertisement

Confucius & the hundreds Schools

The ax Hundred schools of Thought should be understood figuratively to mean “many”, no literally one hundred. Amongst the ones which were taped by later on historians, such as Sima Qian (l. 145-135-86 BCE), were:

ConfucianismLegalismMohismSchool of NamesSchool of boy TalksSchool that DiplomacyAgriculturalismSyncretismYangism (Hedonist School)RelativismSchool of the Military

At this time, then, Confucianism was only one of plenty of establishing a philosophical id system which, for the most part, they climate tried come popularize. ~ Confucius left his place in Lu, he traveled through various other states vying with proponents of the different schools for acceptance of his vision end theirs. Baird comments:

Confucius wandered with the surrounding states in the firm of a little band of students, who he continued to teach. He readily available advice on federal government matters to local rulers and also sometimes welcomed temporary write-ups in their service. There to be hardships come be sustained – rejection, persecution, also attempted assassination. (284)

He had actually no more luck convincing the upper course of these various other states the the value of his system than he had actually had in Lu and also so returned residence at the age of 68 and set up his own school. He based his curriculum top top the Five standards of the Zhou Dynasty and continued teaching till his death, of natural causes, five years later. His philosophy, at the time of his death, remained no more than one college of thought amongst many and also was influenced, to better or lesser degrees, by these others.

Remove AdsAdvertisement


Taoism influenced Confucianism through its ide of the Tao, the creative and binding pressure of the universe; Legalism through its insistence ~ above law and ritual together the method of keeping order and also controlling people"s an unfavorable impulses; the school of Names through its emphasis on how closely the indigenous for things or concept corresponded to it (how well words represented the reality they referenced); the school of medication through its focus on the prominence of diet in maintaining health and also a clean mind. Confucius was influenced by all of these, and also no doubt plenty of others, however streamlined the thought, removed what he felt to be non-essential or problematic, to develop a philosophical mechanism which, if observed, could help people make much better choices, lead an ext peaceful lives, and also avoid the sort of suffering everyone at the moment was enduring as result of the wars in between the states.


His philosophical vision was really simple: human beings were innately good, "good" being identified as understanding the difference between right and wrong, and inclined naturally to choose what is right. This insurance claim could be proven by how world reacted to others in time of trouble. The best-known example of this principle (given by the later on Confucian Mencius) is a person coming throughout a young boy who has fallen into a well. One"s an initial impulse is to save the young – one of two people by direct action or by to run to uncover someone to aid – also though one walk not recognize the boy or his parents and might be risking one"s own safety in trying to aid him.

In cases where one did neither of these points – in other words, whereby one determined wrong over right – the was because of ignorance the what was best owing come a lack of a moral code and also standard the conduct. Someone who would enable the young to cancel in the fine would many likely have done so the end of one overly emerged sense that self-interest. If such a person were education in right activity and a suitable understanding the the world and their ar in it, castle would choose right over wrong.

Confucius promoted a strict code of ethics one need to adhere come in order to preserve the middle way in life of tranquility & prosperity.

This is wherein the theological facet comes in which urges some to interpret Confucianism together a religion. Confucius believed in the Chinese principle of Tian (Heaven) which need to be interpreted in this instance as something rather close come the Tao. Tian is the resource of and sustainer of all life which developed the ordered people out that chaos. One required to recognize the existence of Tian, a continuous flux that Yin and also Yang (opposite) forces, in order to recognize one"s location in the world. Sacrifices made to the various gods made no distinction to those gods, who were all facets of Tian, yet made a far-reaching difference come the one offering the sacrifice since belief in a greater power, whatever form it took, aided to check one"s principle of self-importance, lessened one"s ego, and encouraged one to relocate from self-interest to take into consideration the interests and also welfare that others.

A id in a greater power alone was not sufficient to encourage right action, however, no one to manage one"s baser instincts. Confucius advocated a strict password of values one have to adhere come in order to maintain the middle way in life the peace and prosperity. These are recognized as the five Constants and also Four Virtues:

Ren – benevolenceYi – righteousnessLi – ritualZhi – knowledgeXin – integrityXiao – filial pietyZhong – loyaltyJie – contingencyYi – justice/righteousness

All of these were equally important, yet they started with filial piety. Human being were encouraged to honor and respect your parents and observe a hierarchy of authority where a son obeyed his father"s wishes, a younger brother respected and also deferred come his older brother, and women go the same with men. In this way, the family would live harmoniously and, if sufficient families taken on filial piety, one would soon have actually a whole ar of contented people, climate a state, and then an entire country. There would be no require of oppressive governments or laws due to the fact that people would, essentially, it is in governing themselves through acknowledgment of the benefits of building behavior. Confucius writes:

If the people be led by laws, and also uniformity sought to be provided them by punishments, they will shot to prevent the punishment, however have no feeling of shame. If they be led by virtue, and also uniformity sought to be provided them by the rules of propriety, castle will have actually the feeling of shame and, moreover, will end up being good. (Analects, 2.3; Tamblyn, p. 3)

By embracing filial piety, one was acquisition the initial step toward the other constants and virtues because one was subjecting one"s self to a policy of actions that did not elevate the self. Also the head of the household, the father, was meant to be humble, in his situation in the confront of Tian. Nobody was over observance the filial piety in accordance through righteousness. In responding to a question concerning government and also control of unruly subjects, Confucius is reported together saying:

Let her evinced desires be for what is good, and also the human being will it is in good. The relation between superiors and also inferiors is choose that in between the wind and the grass. The grass have to bend, as soon as the wind blows throughout it. (Analects 12.19; Tamblyn, p. 38)

Filial piety (and the rest) was educated by Ren which way not just "benevolence" however that which renders a person truly human, one"s basic humanity, i m sorry understands right from wrong and instinctively leans toward what is right. Expressed in behavior, Confucius coined the so-called silver Rule, a much previously version the the gold Rule attributed come Jesus Christ ("silver" because the ide is to express in the negative), once he said, "whatsoever you execute not desire done to you, execute not execute to another" (Analects 12:2) which appears in his response to a question on defining perfect virtue:

It is, when you walk abroad, come behave come every one together if you were receiving a an excellent guest; to rental the human being as if you to be assisting at a great sacrifice; no to execute to others as you would certainly not wish done to yourself; to have actually no murmuring against you in the country, and also none in the family. (Analects 12:2; Tamblyn, p. 36)

By adhering to these precepts, in accordance with the rituals which motivated them, one would acquire the state that junzi (literally “lord"s son”) which supposed a premium individual and is usually analyzed as "gentleman". A junzi known the order of the world and also his – or her – ar in it (since Confucius understood women as in require of as lot instruction together men, although his era walk not enable for it formally) and, with adherence to Confucius" teachings would behave well, in the interests of every involved, and live in peace with one"s self and also others.



Confucius" philosophy was reformed and also popularized by the philosopher and also Confucian scholar Mencius who, prefer Confucius himself, travel state-to-state preaching Confucian ideals in an initiative to finish the chaos the the Warring says Period. His efforts at converting the ruling course were no much more successful 보다 those of Confucius but he did introduce Confucian precepts come a wider audience 보다 it had actually at Confucius" death. Confucianism"s reason was enhanced by another scholar-philosopher, the critical of the Five an excellent Sages that Confucianism, Xunzi (also given as Xun Kuang, l. C. 310 - c. 235 BCE) who reformed the system further, giving a much an ext pragmatic (or pessimistic) vision that the philosophy, closer in some elements to Legalism, but still retaining the simple precepts, which he expressed in his work Xunzi.

Confucianism to be rejected through the Qin Dynasty due to the fact that it was an essential of Qin policy. The very first emperor of the Qin Dynasty, Shi Huangdi (r. 221-210 BCE), created a repressive regime, completely at odds through Confucian ideals, and embraced Legalism as the state approach in order come strictly control the populace. Confucianism was almost erased from background during the time recognized as the burning of the Books and the Burying of scholars c. 213-210 BCE, but the publications were preserved by adherents that hid them native authorities.

The ideology was revived by the Han dynasty under its very first emperor Gaozu (r. 202-195 BCE) who reestablished the values of the Zhou Dynasty. Confucianism was later made the national philosophy under Wu the Great. By the moment of his reign, 141-87 BCE, Confucianism had already gained a comprehensive following, however Wu"s decree would solidify and expand its influence.

For the next 2,000 years, Confucianism would certainly be the leading philosophy the China, even during periods – such together the Tang dynasty (618-907 CE) – as soon as Taoism was more popular. In the 20th century CE, Confucianism to be rejected by Chinese cultural reformers that felt it was outdated and also by the Chinese Communist Party since of its insistence ~ above a social pecking order at odds with the communist ideal. Mohism, v its vision of universal love nevertheless of society standing, was promoted instead.

See more: Shows Like Orange Is The New Black, Top 8 Female

By this time, however, Confucian ideals had become so closely interwoven through Chinese culture that there to be no means of separating the two. Confucianism proceeds to it is in observed, whether directly as a belief-system-of-choice or merely culturally in the present day and also continues to get adherents about the world. That the many philosophies the the so-called One Hundred institutions of Thought, Confucius" vision eventually triumphed by offering a specific means to live towards a greater good to live for.