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Reports & Essays: History - Asian History

"AND""OR"

Confucianism
Confucianism is a philosophy based on the ideas of the Chinese philosopher Confucius. It originated about 500BC. From the 100's BC to the AD 1900's, Confucianism was the most important single force in Chinese life. It influenced Chinese education, government, and attitudes toward correct personal behavior and the individual's duty to society. Many people consider Confucianism a religion, but it has no clergymen and does not teach the worship of a god or gods or the existence of a life after death. Confucianism can more accurately be considered a guide to morality and good government. The early Confucianists concerned themselves primarily with the needs of society. Confucius believed his society could be saved if it emphasized sincerity in personal and public conduct. The key to orderly social life was the gentleman. Confucius defined a gentleman not as a person of noble birth, but as one of good moral character. He defined a gentleman as one who was 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. Confucius believed that when gentlemen were rulers, their moral example would inspire those beneath them to lead good lives. Virtuous behavior by rulers, he declared, had a greater effect in governing than did laws and codes of punishment. However, ideas from Taoism and other philosophers helped shift the emphasis to additional areas of human experience. For example, man's ability to live in harmony with nature was a minor issue to Confucius, but it became an important theme in Confucian thought during the 200's and 100's BC. Confucianism continued to actively influence Chinese life until it came into conflict with Western ideas, especially Communism, in the 1900's. Today, the Chinese government opposes Confucianism because the philosophy encourages people to look to the past rather than to the future. Confucian ideas remain widespread in other countries in East Asia.

 



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