Confucianism is an East Asian philosophy built up by a Chinese philosopher, Confucius (K’ung Fu-tzu), in the 6th – 5th century BCE. It’s a philosophy based on human morals and relationships. To really understand Confucianism, how it originated and what parts of history contributed towards its development, you have to look into: who is Confucius, the history of Confucianism and what happened to Confucianism after the death of Confucius?Who is Confucius?Confucius was of noble descent in the state of Lu (modern Shantung). No records show him attending school even though Confucius was a well educated man. He had to make his own living at an early age.
He started a political career at a young age, rising in the ranks, but fell faster than what he rose. His main goal in politics was to restore humanity and to convince various nobles to follow a certain guideline, but after he was dismissed from government, he never returned to public life. By the age of 20, Confucius decided to become a teacher, to try to change the world through what he teachers. He had a pattern of thinking that inspired many people, no matter what religion they were, most of East Asia and their way of thinking had Confucian elements in them. His policy was “accept anyone as a disciple provided that the student is willing to learn.
” But the violent leaders at the time, paid no attention to any of his philosophies. Confucius was one of the first and few philosophers to leave a collection of writings behind as a source for all people (like the Bible for Catholics). History of ConfucianismConfucius lived from 551BCE to 479BCE, during the Chou Dynasty, where in fact imperial rule was breaking down. High principled men originally founded then ran the Chou Dynasty, but by Confucius’ time, China was going through a very difficult period where conflicts and attacks had controlled the dynasty, while usurpers took over land, this dynasty was corrupt. This period of political turmoil (770BCE-221BCE) started a new era of a ;hundred schools; where teachers, such as Confucius, would move from state to state teaching their other people about their ideas and morals. This was also the time though, where prisoners were put to death in mass executions, soldiers were paid when they presented the severed heads of the enemy, whole populations that were captured were beheaded and there were accounts of the conquered being boiled to death in a ‘soup’ and the family being forced to drink the ‘human soup’.
There was something seriously wrong with the justice and equality in this dynasty, that the philosophy of Confucius could help. The development of Confucianism came to an ‘all of a sudden’ stop during the Chin dynasty (221BCE-206BCE) where the First Emperor didn’t approve of the Confucian ideas, therefore declared that anyone who differed with the state in their ideas, were killed, and all of Confucius’ teachings and books were to be burnt. After the death of the Emperor, the Chin dynasty was overthrown by the Han dynasty, where Confucianism was not only re-introduced, but became the dominant school of thought among imperial officials. But not long after this happening, the new leaders were convinced that having a foot in Confucian philosophy, is leading you the right way in life.
What happened after the death of Confucius?Confucius believed that he didn’t achieve anything in life and that he was a failure, but if this was so, the legend and teachings of Confucius, and Confucianism would of died, but it didn’t, instead it lived on through the analects, through Mencius and through Neo-Confucianism. (a new system of Confucian thought)The AnalectsConfucius spent his last few years writing numbers of books that reflect his teachings. The Analects happened to be a major source book for Confucians, but the Analects wasn’t written by Confucius, it was put together by his disciples after his death. The central theme of the Analects was about “how people might live harmoniously together” (Reference: Understanding Eastern Philosophy, pg 119) it expresses how Confucius was concerned with ethics rather than metaphysics. He believed that he as a person could not emphasis there being a future life, or a “divine being who might influence events in this world from .