Confucius (Kung Fu-Tzu)* (551-479 BC). *Family name = Kung (Kong) Personal name = Zhong-ni Kung Fu-Tzu (Kong Fu- zi ) = “Master Kung” “Confucius” = Latinization of “Kung Fu-Tzu”. Historical backdrop:Confucius ' China.
Confucius (Kung Fu-Tzu)*(551-479 BC)
*Family name = Kung (Kong)
Personal name = Zhong-ni
Kung Fu-Tzu (Kong Fu-zi) = “Master Kung”
“Confucius” = Latinization of “Kung Fu-Tzu”
Confucius lived in the “warring states” period of China. Wandering warlords of little virtue were overthrowing legitimate kings.
He was concerned about where his society was going; leaders weren’t caring well for society. Petty wars were constantly erupting.
Society was emphasizing less education, writing, the arts. Families were in discord. Peasants were being unjustly burdened with heavy taxes to support their own life of luxury.
Confucius worked his way up through government posts until age 50. He retired in frustration and began 30 years of teaching, which he saw as transmitting old wisdom from the sage kings). He did not see it as innovation, he was renewing age old values in a spirit of conservative renewal.
Taoist: the oldest writings.
Source: Lao Tzu
I Ching (Book of Changes)
The Book of Rites
The Book of Poetry
The Spring & Autumn Annals
Some add Mencius’ (a later disciple of Confucius) The Great Learning and The Doctrine of the Mean.
Believed to be edited by Confucius
Believed to be written by Confucius
Shang (1,766 - 1,122 B.C.)
Oracle bones, human sacrifice, bronze works advanced.
(770 - 256 B.C.)
Chou (Zhou) (1,122 - 771 B.C.)
In the later period of Zhou dynasty, the ruler only governed the country in name with true power lying in the hands of powerful nobles. Internal conflict and power struggle intensified. Wars between the states were regular. The Eastern Zhou is chronologically divided into two subperiods-the Spring and Autumn Period and the Warriors Period.
West Chou dynasty was a Golden Age and the time of Confucius. Agricultural made great progress, tools improved. Slave Society.
Qin (Chin)– Legalism (short lived)
Chou (Zhou) decays into Warring States (475 - 221 B.C.)
(221 - 207 B.C.)
Han - Confucianism
(206 B.C. - 220 A.D.)
Humanism: a term from the European renaissance/reformation that states that man should be the center of our view of the world (not God).
Confucianism is essentially humanistic: human relationships are the key to virtue, happiness, a good life and a good society.
Li= the rules of social order.
No li, no peace.
The mandate of heaven =
how things are meant to be.
Rulers must win the mandate of heaven. Lose it and they will fail, the kingdom will suffer and fall from power
Confucianism has a positive view of human nature. It just has to be nurtured properly. How?
1. The Rectification of Names
2. The 5 Great Relationships
1. Confucian beliefs start with human experience and immediate human relationships: family, work and station in life. The main goal in Confucian thought is to live a moral and responsible and fruitful life within this context.
2. Education: learn your past, your culture, your history, great heroes, sages.
3. Cultivate goodness and good practice. Become a Chuntzu: a good role model. Lead by example.
4 Ritual .that shows respect for ancestors and others in societal roles. “He who does not know the rites, cannot make his stand.”.
5. Don’t lead society by force or fear ; use example, ritual, and encouraging . (Ideally, we would need no laws: very optimistic).
The primary sources of Confucian philosophy
“The Four Books” (Ssu-chu)
(Mencius, 371-288 BC)
The ancient State of Lu
That’s where Confucius was born & spent most of his life.
Confucianism originated in China, but its influence spread to Korea & Japan over the centuries.
8th-5th centuries BC - period of disorder; emergence of classical Chinese philosophies:Confucianism, Daoism, Mohism, Legalism, etc.) - Era of Warring States (475-221 BC)
206 BC-25 AD: Former Han Dynasty (beginnings of official state Confucianism)
25-220 AD: Later Han Dynasty (rise of Chinese Empire; imperial state religion; Confucianism established as the official philosophy of the Chinese state; the coming of Buddhism)
220-280 AD: The Three Kingdoms - Wei (220-266); Shu (221-263); Wu (222-280) (decline of Confucianism; rise of Daoism & Buddhism)
266-316 AD: Jin (Chin) Dynasty
316-589 AD: Era of North- South Division - 16 Northern Kingdoms (301-439); 5 Southern Kingdoms (317-589) (rise of Daoist religion; continued spread of Buddhism)
581-618 AD: Sui Dynasty
618-907 AD: Tang Dynasty (high point for Buddhism & Daoism; 9th century Confucian reaction against Buddhism)
10th-13th centuries AD: Rise of Neo-Confucianism; spread of Chan (Zen) Buddhism
(development of popular religious sects)
1644-1911 AD: Qing (Ch’ing) (Manchu) Dynasty - peak of Confucian (bureaucratic) authority; increasing influence of the West
1911-1912 AD: Chinese Revolution
Republic of China (1912-1949 [mainland]; 1945-present [Taiwan])
People’s Republic of China (Communism) (1949-present)
Confucianism outlawed and in decline. Religion only allowed if state-controlled.
Ontology & Cosmology
(Heaven is Yang in relation to Earth; and Earth is Yin in relation to Heaven; but each is, in itself, a blend of both Yin & Yang.)
Earth & moon
Heaven & sun
Yin & yang is not a “good vs bad” type dualism. Good is achieved when the right balance and mix is achieved between yin and yang in a given thing/situation.
Chinese conception of yin and yang and other classical philosophical dualisms…is that whereas most dualisms are forever in conflict, yin and yang always act in harmony, and both are considered to be necessary to maintain the order of the universe." (Bilhartz 262)
naturally & inherently good - need for cultivation via education
naturally social & political - development & perfection of human nature within the social & political realm
The human predicament:
suffering as a result of failure to follow the “Way of the Ancestors”
Disharmony & conflict between Heaven & Earth, between the ancestors & us; and between humans here on earth
Solution of problem of suffering: reestablish harmony
Confucian metaphysics, continued
Confucius’s primary goal:
order, harmony, peace, & happiness in this life here on earth
He had only a secondary interest in “transcendental” salvation, and avoided speculating about the gods, heaven, the nature of the soul and the creation of the world.
The Chun-Tzu - the ideal of the Superior (self-actualized, virtuous, perfected) Person
The Chun-Tzu is an exemplification of ideal virtue, of Yi, of Ren, of Li, and of Hsiao – see following slides….
The Rectification of Names (Zheng-ming) (proper use of language)
The Doctrine of the Mean (Zhongyong)
The Five Constant Relationships:
elder sibling-younger sibling
elder friend-younger friend
Confucian ethics, continued
Confucian ethics / Li, continued
Tomb of Confucius, Qufu.
Confucian ethics / Li, continued
proper practice of traditional rites
(worship of God, ancestors, Heaven, Earth, spirits; funeral services & sacrifices in honor of parents)
Modern examples from Western culture:
1. Demeanor is important. Imagine a wedding were the bride and groom repeated there vows without any emotion or involvement.
2. The routine response to a sneeze “God bless you” is an example of Li. It seems trivial, but indicates concern for the person. Good habits have good effects.
Li chi , or The Book of Rites , catalogs the many rituals that make up ancient Chinese life.
The importance of culture in the creation & maintenance of a well-ordered society
Confucian ethics (& aesthetics?), continued
(Confucius composed a “Book of Music” [Yueh Jing], which is sometimes referred to as a “sixth classic.”)
Confucian axiology, continued