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Confucianism: Origins Figures and Texts

Page history last edited by Daniel Van Sickle 11 years, 12 months ago





Historical Origins:

Key Figures, Sacred Texts & Writings




Confucius (K’ung Fu-tzu) was a social, ethical reformer at a time of growing disorder who believed he could make an ethical influence on the traditional religious and social life of China and Japan. It wasn’t until he was in his twenties that he became a teacher and gathered a group of disciples.

            Confucius sought a way to restore the cultural-political order. He believed the reform would come through educating the leaders in the classics (see Sacred Texts and Writings) and in his philosophy. He therefore sought a political position of influence, from which he could implement his principles.

After the death of Confucius, his disciples were able to gain significant positions in government, modified his teaching and added personal insights from experience.

Centuries later, Confucianism became the state religion of China.



Sacred Texts and Writings


Confucius carries the Five Classics of the Confucian canon. They are the Classics of History, Poetry, Rites, Changes (I Ching), and the Spring and Autumn Annals. These texts became the basis of Chinese education and the means of training state officials from the Han dynasty until the end of the Imperial China in 1911.




“What you do not want done to you, do not do to others.”



“In guiding a state of a thousand chariots, approach your duties with reverence and be trustworthy in what you say; avoid excesses in expenditure and love your fellow beings; employ the labor of the common people only in the right season.”

From the Analects





            It is not possible to determine the number of followers of the early Confucianist tradition. Yet, it is known that many early prophets of Confucius became significant political leaders and shaped the religion of Confucianism. Several of the Chinese leaders still follow the philosophies of Confucianism today. President Hu Jintao brought Confucianism back into the Chinese government.




Al Islam. Confucianism.. 13 09. 2008



Bell, Daniel A. China's Leaders Rediscover Confucianism. 14 09. 2006. 12 09. 2008 http://www.iht.com/articles/2006/09/14/opinion/edbell.php.

Bowker, John. World Religions. New York, New York: DK Publishin, Inc, 2003.

PHILTAR theology and religion. Early Confucianism.. 13 09.. 2008 <http://philtar.ucsm.ac.uk/encyclopedia/confuc/early.html>.


PHILTAR theology and religion. The Old Text School.. 13 09.. 2008 <http://philtar.ucsm.ac.uk/encyclopedia/confuc/old.html>.


LEGGE, J. (1985) The Four Books. The Great Learning, The Doctrine of the Mean, Confucian Analects and the Works of Mencius. 2nd ed, Culture Book Co., Taiwan

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