Chinese teacher, writer, and philosopher Confucius viewed himself as a channel for the theological ideas and values of the imperial dynasties that came before him. With an emphasis on family and social harmony, Confucius advocated for a way of life that reflected a spiritual and religious tradition, but which was also distinctly humanist and even secularist. Confucius — thought to be a contemporary of Taoist progenitor Lao-Tzu — had a profound impact on the development of Eastern legal customs and the emergence of a scholarly ruling class. Confucianism would engage in historic push-pull with the philosophies of Buddhism and Taoism, experiencing ebbs and flows in influence, its high points coming during the Han (206 BCE–220 CE), Tang (618–907 CE), and Song (960–1296 CE) Dynasties. As Buddhism became the dominant spiritual force in China, Confucianism declined in practice. However, it remains a foundational philosophy underlying Asian and Chinese attitudes toward scholarly, legal, and professional pursuits.
Confucius’ Big Ideas
~Developed a belief system focused on both personal and governmental morality through qualities such as justice, sincerity, and positive relationships with others;
~Advocated for the importance of strong family bonds, including respect for the elder, veneration of one’s ancestors, and marital loyalty;
~Believed in the value of achieving ethical harmony through skilled judgment rather than knowledge of rules, denoting that one should achieve morality through self-cultivation.