A Brief Guide to Confucius and His Teachings

A Brief Guide to Confucius and His Teachings

Confucius, or Kongzi as he is known in China, was a great teacher, writer, and scholar who lived more than 2,500 years ago. Despite the fact that he lived so many years ago, the teachings of Confucius are thought to be timeless and still continue to inspire people all over the world today. As such, here is a brief introduction to Confucius, his teachings, and how his effects can still be seen in China today.

The Awakening of Confucius

The time in which Confucius lived was one of the most unstable and divided in China’s history and many different, contradictory schools of thought arose in response to the political uncertainty of the era. This golden age in Chinese philosophy was known as the ‘hundred schools of thought’ and Confucius himself became a part of it. Aiming to advise governments, Confucius travelled from state to state, but spent his final years a teacher and his writings were compiled into a collection which became known as the ‘four books and five classics’.

The Teachings of Confucius

The teachings of Confucius centred on the idea of humans being inherently good and that selfish interests could be regulated by faithfulness to virtue. He believed that every person was capable of developing this all-encompassing sense of virtue known as ren, but in order to do this they had to fulfil a set of ritualistic behaviours known as li. However, Confucius did not believe in an equal society made up of individuals – much like how all gambling online NZ sites aren’t created equal – but rather that 5 relationships mattered most: subject to ruler, child to parent, wife to husband, younger to elder, and friend to friend.

Striving for a Harmonious Society

Confucius also believed that if society was obedient to these rules that it would function peacefully and harmoniously, working together to achieve the rightful purpose. If this was done with utmost devotion, Confucius believed that there would be no need to rule by law or force as people would be conditioned to be virtuous by way of ritual. Furthermore, he also believed that rulers should govern with benevolence and wisdom as opposed to force.

The Evolution of Confucianism

Despite the general uniformity of his concepts, Confucianism cannot be described as a single concept. Over time, many other Chinese writers and scholars have contributed to and interpreted Confucius’ ideas in a variety of ways, particularly the philosopher Mencius who was known as ‘the second sage’. Additionally, by the time of the Tang Dynasty, the teachings of Confucius had been reinvigorated to form ‘Neo-Confucianism’.

The Influence of Confucius Today

Considering which 5 relationships Confucius believed to be most important, it becomes apparent how much influence he still holds over China today. Families, especially the elderly, are held in high esteem in Chinese culture, as is the role of teachers in education and the need to be polite and display the correct behaviour in public. Despite a rapidly changing cultural landscape, the legacy of the teachings of Confucius still holds true today.