LIFE OF CONFUCIUS
Confucius was believed to have been born in 551 BC., in the state
of Lu, known today as the Shandong province. His parents, who died
while he was a child, named him Kong Qui. Confucius was derived from
the Latin word Kongfuzi which means Great Master Kong. Confucius was
the most influential and respected philosopher in Chinese history.
His ideas were the single strongest influence on Chinese society from
around 100 BC. to the AD. 1900’s. The Chinese government made his
ideas the official state philosophy and many nearby countries honored
Confucius wanted to gain the position as an adviser to a wise
ruler, but he failed. He hoped to do this in order to be able to
employ his ideas for reforming society.
If it wasn’t for the
disciples of Confucius his teachings would have never been spread
around China, and he would have never been made known. His teachings
were never written down by him, but his conversations and sayings were
written down by his disciples in the analects.
Confucianism was the single most important thing in Chinese life.
It affected everything in China; education, government, and
attitudes toward behavior in public and private life. Confucianism is
not a religion, but it is more a philosophy and a guide to morality
and good government. At the time Confucius was born, China was in a
constant state of war, and rapid political change altered the
structure of Chinese society so much that people no longer respected
the established behavioral guidelines.
Confucius stated that the ideal
person was one of good moral character. The ideal person was also
truly reverent in worship and sincerely respected his father and his
ruler. He was expected to think for himself, guided by definite rules
of conduct. As Confucius said, he was expected to take “as much
trouble to discover what was right as lesser men take to discover what
will pay”. Confucius believed that this type of behavior by rulers
had a greater effect on the people than did laws or codes of
punishment. So when these types of people were rulers, their moral
example would inspire the people to lead good lives.
Confucius died sometime around 479 B.C., and his philosophy was
not very well known. If it weren’t for his disciples his ideas would
probably still be unknown. Confucius never wrote anything down
himself; his disciples wrote all of his sayings down in a collection
of books called the Analects. These contain all that modern day man
knows about Confucius.
There existed two important Confucian philosophers-Mencius
(390-305 BC) and Xunzi (mid 200’s B.C.). They held beliefs similar
to Confucius but they were somewhat different. Mencius’s viewpoint
was that people were born good, and that they had to “preserve the
natural compassion of the heart”. Xunzi opposed this by saying that
people could be good and live peacefully only if their minds were
shaped by education and conduct.
Both of these ideas parallel
Confucius’, in that they both state that people can be good.
Confucianism was concerned primarily with the needs of society,
and unlike Buddhism and Taoism, not the ability for a person to live
in harmony with nature. Beginning in the 200’s B.C. Buddhism and
Taoism began to affect and reshape the standards of Confucianism, and
things such as nature came into play. Around A.
D. 200 to 600, there
was a rapid decline in the Confucian Beliefs in China. This was
partly because Confucianism now had to compete with Buddhism and
Taoism, which were developed around this time. These religions
were to Confucianism as night is to day, in other words, they were
exact opposites. Buddhism and Taoism were largely concerned with the
meaning of suffering and death, while Confucianism largely ignored
The revival of Confucianism began around the 600’s and was fully
revived by the 700’s.
In the 1100’s, there was a movement lead by
Zhu-Xi called the Neo-Confucianism movement. He developed a branch of
this movement known as the rational-wing, it dealt with the study of
Li, the relationship between humans and nature. Another branch was
called the intuitional-wing and it dealt mostly with enlightenment by
a combination of meditation and moral action.In the 1900’s there
was a .