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Chinese philosophy originates in the
Spring and Autumn period The Spring and Autumn period was a period in Chinese history The earliest known written records of the history of China date from as early as 1250 BC, from the Shang dynasty (c. 1600–1046 BC), during the king Wu Ding's reign, who was men ...
() and
Warring States period The Warring States period () was an era in ancient Chinese history characterized by warfare, as well as bureaucratic and military reforms and consolidation. It followed the Spring and Autumn period and concluded with the Qin wars of conquest ...
(), during a period known as the "
Hundred Schools of Thought The Hundred Schools of Thought () were philosophies and schools that flourished from the 6th century to 221 BC during the Spring and Autumn period and the Warring States period of ancient China. An era of great cultural and intellectual expansion ...
", which was characterized by significant intellectual and cultural developments. Although much of Chinese philosophy begun in the Warring States period, elements of Chinese philosophy have existed for several thousand years. Some can be found in the ''
I Ching The ''I Ching'' or ''Yi Jing'' (, ), usually translated as ''Book of Changes'' or ''Classic of Changes'', is an ancient Chinese divination text and among the oldest of the Chinese classics. Originally a divination manual in the Western Zhou ...
'' (the ''Book of Changes''), an ancient compendium of
divination Divination (from Latin ''divinare'', 'to foresee, to foretell, to predict, to prophesy', related to ''divinus'', ' divine'), or "to be inspired by a god," is the attempt to gain insight into a question or situation by way of an occultic, standa ...
, which dates back to at least 672 BCE. It was during the Warring States era that what
Sima Tan Sima Tan (; 165–110  BCE) was a Chinese astrologer and historian during the Western Han dynasty. Education & career Sima Tan studied astronomy with Tang Du, the ''I Ching The ''I Ching'' or ''Yi Jing'' (, ), usually translated as ...
termed the major philosophical schools of China—
Confucianism , Shanxi Shanxi (; ; Chinese postal romanization, formerly romanised as Shansi) is a landlocked Provinces of China, province of the China, People's Republic of China and is part of the North China region. The capital and largest city of th ...
, Legalism, and
Taoism Taoism (), or Daoism (), is a philosophical and spiritual tradition of China, Chinese origin which emphasizes living in harmony with the ''Tao'' (, Taoism#Spelling and pronunciation, or ''Dao''). In Taoism, the ''Tao'' is the source, pattern a ...
—arose, along with philosophies that later fell into obscurity, like
AgriculturalismAgriculturalism, also known as the School of Agrarianism, the School of Agronomists, the School of Tillers, and in Chinese as the ''Nongjia'' (), was an early agrarian Chinese philosophy Chinese philosophy originates in the Spring ...
,
Mohism Mohism or Moism () was an ancient Chinese philosophy of logic Logic (from Ancient Greek, Greek: grc, wikt:λογική, λογική, label=none, lit=possessed of reason, intellectual, dialectical, argumentative, translit=logikḗ)Also re ...
,
Chinese Naturalism Chinese can refer to: * Something related to China * Chinese people, people of Chinese nationality, citizenship, or ethnicity **''Zhonghua minzu'', the supra-ethnic Chinese nationality ** Han Chinese, the majority ethnic group in Mainland China, ...
, and the
Logicians Logic (from Ancient Greek, Greek: grc, wikt:λογική, λογική, label=none, lit=possessed of reason, intellectual, dialectical, argumentative, translit=logikḗ)Also related to (''logos''), "word, thought, idea, argument, account, re ...
. Even in modern society, Confucianism is still the creed of etiquette for Chinese society.


Chinese philosophy as a philosophy

The debate over whether the ''thought'' of ancient Chinese masters should be called philosophy has been discussed since the introduction of this academic discipline into China. See
Legitimacy of Chinese philosophy The debate over whether the ancient Chinese masters can be counted as philosophy has been discussed since the introduction of this academic discipline into China about a hundred years ago. Cultural immersion in the West by figures such as Hu Shih a ...
for details.


Early beliefs

Early
Shang dynasty The Shang dynasty (), also historically known as the Yin dynasty (), was a Chinese dynasty that ruled in the middle and lower Yellow River valley in the second millennium BC, succeeding the Xia dynasty and followed by the Zhou dynasty. ...

Shang dynasty
thought was based upon cycles. This notion stems from what the people of the Shang Dynasty could observe around them: day and night cycled, the seasons progressed again and again, and even the moon waxed and waned until it waxed again. Thus, this notion, which remained relevant throughout
Chinese history The earliest known written records of the history of China date from as early as 1250 BC, from the Shang dynasty (c. 1600–1046 BC), during the king Wu Ding's reign, who was mentioned as the twenty-first Shang king by the same. Ancient histo ...
, reflects the order of nature. In juxtaposition, it also marks a fundamental distinction from
western philosophy Western philosophy refers to the philosophy, philosophical thought and work of the Western world. Historically, the term refers to the philosophical thinking of Western culture, beginning with the ancient Greek philosophy of the Pre-Socratic phil ...
, in which the dominant view of time is a linear progression. During the Shang,
fate Destiny, sometimes referred to as fate (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. ...
could be manipulated by great deities, commonly translated as gods.
Ancestor worship The veneration of the dead, including one's ancestors An ancestor, also known as a forefather, fore-elder or a forebear, is a parent A parent is a caregiver of the offspring In biology, offspring are the young born of living organism, o ...
was present and universally recognized. There was also human and animal sacrifice. When the Shang were overthrown by the
ZhouZhou may refer to: Chinese history * King Zhou of Shang () (1105 BC–1046 BC), the last king of the Shang dynasty * Predynastic Zhou (), 11th-century BC precursor to the Zhou dynasty * Zhou dynasty () (1046 BC–256 BC), a dynasty of China ** Weste ...
, a new political, religious and philosophical concept was introduced called the "
Mandate of Heaven Mandate most often refers to: * League of Nations mandates, quasi-colonial territories established under Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations, 28 June 1919 * Mandate (politics), the power granted by an electorate Mandate may also ...
". This mandate was said to be taken when rulers became unworthy of their position and provided a shrewd justification for Zhou rule. During this period, archaeological evidence points to an increase in literacy and a partial shift away from the faith placed in
Shangdi Shangdi (), also written simply, "Emperor An emperor (from la, imperator, via fro, empereor) is a monarch, and usually the sovereignty, sovereign ruler of an empire or another type of imperial realm. Empress, the female equivalent, may in ...

Shangdi
(the Supreme Being in
traditional Chinese religion Chinese folk religion, also known as ''popular religion'', is a Polyphyly, polyphyletic term used to describe the diversity of practices in areas generally termed "religion", of Han Chinese, persons of Chinese heritage, including the Chine ...
), with ancestor worship becoming commonplace and a more worldly orientation coming to the fore.


Overview

Confucianism developed during the
Spring and Autumn period The Spring and Autumn period was a period in Chinese history The earliest known written records of the history of China date from as early as 1250 BC, from the Shang dynasty (c. 1600–1046 BC), during the king Wu Ding's reign, who was men ...
from the teachings of the Chinese philosopher
Confucius } Confucius ( ; zh, s=, p=Kǒng Fūzǐ, "Master Kǒng"; or commonly zh, s=, p=Kǒngzǐ, labels=no; ) was a Chinese philosopher Chinese philosophy originates in the Spring and Autumn period () and Warring States period (), d ...
(551–479 BCE), who considered himself a retransmitter of Zhou values. His philosophy concerns the fields of ethics and politics, emphasizing personal and governmental morality, correctness of social relationships, justice, traditionalism, and sincerity. The Analects stress the importance of ritual, but also the importance of 'ren', which loosely translates as 'human-heartedness', Confucianism, along with Legalism, is responsible for creating the world's first
meritocracy Meritocracy (''merit'', from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the powe ...
, which holds that one's status should be determined by education and character rather than
ancestry An ancestor, also known as a forefather, fore-elder or a forebear, is a parent or ( recursively) the parent of an antecedent (i.e., a grandparent, great-grandparent, great-great-grandparent and so forth). ''Ancestor'' is "any person from whom ...
,
wealth Wealth is the abundance (economics), abundance of Value (economics), valuable financial assets or property, physical possessions which can be converted into a form that can be used for financial transaction, transactions. This includes the core ...

wealth
, or
friendship Friendship is a relationship of mutual affection between people. It is a stronger form of interpersonal bond than an association, and has been studied in academic fields such as communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', mea ...

friendship
. Confucianism was and continues to be a major influence in Chinese culture, the state of
China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by population, world's most populous country, with a population of around 1.4 billion. Covering approximately 9.6& ...

China
and the surrounding areas of
East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere, Eastern and Northern Hemisphere, Northern Hemisphere of the Earth, Hemispheres. It shares the ...
. Before the Han dynasty the largest rivals to Confucianism were
Chinese Legalism Legalism or ''Fajia'' () is one of Sima Tan's Hundred Schools of Thought#Schools listed in the Shiji, six classical schools of thought in Chinese philosophy. Literally meaning "house of administrative methods" or "standards/law" (), the Fa "Sc ...
, and Mohism. Confucianism largely became the dominant philosophical school of China during the early
Han dynasty#REDIRECT Han dynasty The Han dynasty () was the second Dynasties in Chinese history, imperial dynasty of China (202 BC – 220 AD), established by the rebel leader Liu Bang and ruled by the House of Liu. Preceded by the short-lived Qin dynas ...

Han dynasty
following the replacement of its contemporary, the more Taoistic Huang-Lao. Legalism as a coherent philosophy disappeared largely due to its relationship with the unpopular authoritarian rule of
Qin Shi Huang Qin Shi Huang (, ; 259–210 BCE), or Shihuangdi, was the founder of the Qin dynasty, and first Emperor of China, emperor of a unified China. Rather than maintain the title of "Chinese king, king" ( ''wáng'') borne by the previous Shang dynas ...
, however, many of its ideas and institutions would continue to influence Chinese philosophy until the end of Imperial rule during the
Xinhai Revolution The 1911 Revolution, also known as the Chinese Revolution or the Xinhai Revolution, ended China's last imperial dynasty, the Manchu-led Qing dynasty The Qing dynasty, officially the Great Qing (), was the last Dynasties in Chinese hi ...
. Mohism, though initially popular due to its emphasis on brotherly love versus harsh Qin Legalism, fell out of favour during the
Han Dynasty#REDIRECT Han dynasty The Han dynasty () was the second Dynasties in Chinese history, imperial dynasty of China (202 BC – 220 AD), established by the rebel leader Liu Bang and ruled by the House of Liu. Preceded by the short-lived Qin dynas ...

Han Dynasty
due to the efforts of Confucians in establishing their views as political orthodoxy. The
Six Dynasties __NOTOC__ Six Dynasties ( Chinese: 六朝; Pinyin ''Hanyu Pinyin'' (), often abbreviated to pinyin, is the official romanization system for Standard Chinese, Standard Mandarin Chinese in mainland China, Taiwan (ROC), and Singapore. It is o ...
era saw the rise of the
Xuanxue Xuanxue () is a metaphysical Post-classical history, post-classical Chinese philosophy from the Six Dynasties (222-589), bringing together Taoist and Confucianism, Confucian beliefs through revision and discussion. The movement found its scriptural ...
philosophical school and the maturation of Chinese
Buddhism Buddhism (, ) is the Major religious groups#Largest religions, world's fourth-largest religion with over 520 million followers, or over 7% of the global population, known as Buddhists. Buddhism encompasses a variety of traditions, beliefs and ...
, which had entered China from India during the Late Han Dynasties. By the time of the
Tang dynasty The Tang dynasty (, ; ), or Tang Empire, was an imperial dynasty of China that ruled from 618 to 907, with an interregnum between 690 and 705. It was preceded by the Sui dynasty and followed by the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period. H ...
five-hundred years after Buddhism's arrival into China, it had transformed into a thoroughly Chinese religious philosophy dominated by the school of
Zen Buddhism Zen ( zh, t=禪, p=Chán; ja, text= 禅, translit=zen; ko, text=선, translit=Seon; vi, text=Thiền) is a school of Mahayana Buddhism that originated in China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country i ...

Zen Buddhism
.
Neo-Confucianism Neo-Confucianism (, often shortened to ''lixue'' 理學, literally "School of Principle") is a morality, moral, ethics, ethical, and metaphysics, metaphysical Chinese philosophy influenced by Confucianism, and originated with Han Yu and Li Ao (ph ...
became highly popular during the
Song dynasty The Song dynasty (; ; 960–1279) was an imperial dynasty of China that began in 960 and lasted until 1279. The dynasty was founded by Emperor Taizu of Song following his usurpation of the throne of the Later Zhou, ending the Five Dynasties a ...
and
Ming Dynasty The Ming dynasty (), officially the Great Ming, was the ruling dynasty of China from 1368 to 1644 following the collapse of the Mongol The Mongols ( mn, Монголчууд, , ''Mongolchuud'', ; ) are an East Asian ethnic group nativ ...

Ming Dynasty
due in large part to the eventual combination of Confucian and Zen Philosophy. During the 19th and 20th centuries, Chinese philosophy integrated concepts from
Western philosophy Western philosophy refers to the philosophy, philosophical thought and work of the Western world. Historically, the term refers to the philosophical thinking of Western culture, beginning with the ancient Greek philosophy of the Pre-Socratic phil ...
. Anti-
Qing dynasty The Qing dynasty, officially the Great Qing (), was the last Dynasties in Chinese history, dynasty in the History of China#Imperial China, imperial history of China. It was established in 1636, and ruled China proper from 1644 to 1912, wi ...
revolutionaries, involved in the
Xinhai Revolution The 1911 Revolution, also known as the Chinese Revolution or the Xinhai Revolution, ended China's last imperial dynasty, the Manchu-led Qing dynasty The Qing dynasty, officially the Great Qing (), was the last Dynasties in Chinese hi ...
, saw Western philosophy as an alternative to traditional philosophical schools; students in the
May Fourth Movement The May Fourth Movement was a Chinese anti-imperialist, cultural, and political movement which grew out of student protests in Beijing Beijing ( ), Chinese postal romanization, alternatively romanized as Peking ( ), is the Capital ci ...
called for completely abolishing the old imperial institutions and practices of China. During this era, Chinese scholars attempted to incorporate Western philosophical ideologies such as
democracy Democracy ( gr, δημοκρατία, ''dēmokratiā'', from ''dēmos'' 'people' and ''kratos'' 'rule') is a form of government in which people, the people have the authority to deliberate and decide legislation ("direct democracy"), or to choo ...

democracy
,
Marxism Marxism is a method of socioeconomic analysis that uses a Economic materialism, materialist interpretation of historical development, better known as historical materialism, to understand Social class, class relations and social conflict as well ...
,
socialism Socialism is a political Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with Decision-making, making decisions in Social group, groups, or other forms of Power (social and political), power relations between individuals, ...
,
liberalism Liberalism is a political Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with Decision-making, making decisions in Social group, groups, or other forms of Power (social and political), power relations between individuals, ...

liberalism
,
republicanism Republicanism is a political ideology centered on citizenship in a state (polity), state organized as a republic. Historically, it ranges from the rule of a representative minority or oligarchy to popular sovereignty. It has had different defini ...
,
anarchism Anarchism is a political philosophy and Political movement, movement that is sceptical of authority and rejects all involuntary, coercive forms of hierarchy. Anarchism calls for the abolition of the State (polity), state, which it holds to b ...
and
nationalism Nationalism is an idea and movement that holds that the nation should be congruent with the State (polity), state. As a movement, nationalism tends to promote the interests of a particular nation (as in a in-group and out-group, group of peop ...
into Chinese philosophy. The most notable examples are
Sun Yat-Sen Sun Yat-sen (; born Sun Deming; 12 November 1866 – 12 March 1925) Singtao daily. Saturday edition. 23 October 2010. section A18. Sun Yat-sen Xinhai revolution 100th anniversary edition . was a Chinese statesman, physician, and political ph ...

Sun Yat-Sen
's
Three Principles of the People The Three Principles of the People, also translated as Three People's Principles, San-min Doctrine, or Tridemism, is a political philosophy developed by Sun Yat-sen as part of a philosophy to make China a free, prosperous, and powerful state. T ...
ideology and
Mao Zedong Mao Zedong pronounced ; also Romanization of Chinese, romanised traditionally as Mao Tse-tung. (December 26, 1893 – September 9, 1976), also known as Chairman Mao, was a Chinese communist revolutionary who was the Proclamation of the P ...

Mao Zedong
's
Maoism Maoism, or Mao Zedong Thought (), is a variety of Marxism–Leninism Marxism–Leninism is a communist ideology and the main communist movement throughout the 20th century.Lansford, Thomas (2007). ''Communism''. New York: Cavendish Squar ...
, a variant of
Marxism–Leninism Marxism–Leninism is a communist ideology and the main communist movement throughout the 20th century.Lansford, Thomas (2007). ''Communism''. New York: Cavendish Square Publishing. pp. 9–24, 36–44. . "By 1985, one-third of the world's po ...
. In the modern
People's Republic of China China (), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC; ), is a country in East Asia. It is the world's List of countries and dependencies by population, most populous country, with a Population of China, population of more than 1.4 billion ...

People's Republic of China
, the official ideology is
Deng Xiaoping Deng Xiaoping (, ; ; Wade–Giles: Teng Hsiao-ping; born Xiansheng (); courtesy name Xixian (); 22 August 1904 – 19 February 1997) was a Chinese revolutionary and statesman who served as the paramount leader of the China, People's Republic of C ...

Deng Xiaoping
's " market economy socialism". Although the People's Republic of China has been historically hostile to the philosophy of ancient China, the influences of past are still deeply ingrained in the
Chinese culture Chinese culture () is one of the world's oldest cultures, originating thousands of years ago. The culture prevails across a large geographical region in East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia Asia () is Earth's large ...
. In the post-
Chinese economic reform The Chinese economic reform (; known in the West as the Opening of China) is the program of microeconomic reform, economic reforms termed "Socialism with Chinese characteristics" and "socialist market economy" in the People's Republic of China (PR ...
era, modern Chinese philosophy has reappeared in forms such as the ''
New Confucianism New Confucianism () is an intellectual movement of Confucianism , Shanxi Confucianism, also known as Ruism, is a system of thought and behavior originating in ancient China. Variously described as tradition, a philosophy, a religion, a ...
''. As in
Japan , image_flag = Flag of Japan.svg , alt_flag = Centered deep red circle on a white rectangle , image_coat = Imperial Seal of Japan.svg , alt_coat = Golden circle subdiv ...

Japan
, philosophy in China has become a melting pot of ideas. It accepts new concepts, while attempting also to accord old beliefs their due. Chinese philosophy still carries profound influence amongst the people of
East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere, Eastern and Northern Hemisphere, Northern Hemisphere of the Earth, Hemispheres. It shares the ...
, and even
Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled South East Asia and South-East Asia, and also known as Southeastern Asia or SEA, is the geographical southeastern subregion of Asia, consisting of the regions that are south of China, south-east of the Indian sub ...

Southeast Asia
.


Ancient philosophy


Spring and Autumn period

Around 500 BCE, after the Zhou state weakened and China moved into the
Spring and Autumn period The Spring and Autumn period was a period in Chinese history The earliest known written records of the history of China date from as early as 1250 BC, from the Shang dynasty (c. 1600–1046 BC), during the king Wu Ding's reign, who was men ...
, the classic period of Chinese philosophy began. This is known as the
Hundred Schools of Thought The Hundred Schools of Thought () were philosophies and schools that flourished from the 6th century to 221 BC during the Spring and Autumn period and the Warring States period of ancient China. An era of great cultural and intellectual expansion ...
(; ''zhūzǐ bǎijiā''; "various scholars, hundred schools"). This period is considered the golden age of Chinese philosophy. Of the many schools founded at this time and during the subsequent
Warring States period The Warring States period () was an era in ancient Chinese history characterized by warfare, as well as bureaucratic and military reforms and consolidation. It followed the Spring and Autumn period and concluded with the Qin wars of conquest ...
, the four most influential ones were
Confucianism , Shanxi Shanxi (; ; Chinese postal romanization, formerly romanised as Shansi) is a landlocked Provinces of China, province of the China, People's Republic of China and is part of the North China region. The capital and largest city of th ...
,
Daoism Taoism (), or Daoism (), is a philosophical tradition of Chinese origin which emphasizes living in harmony with the ''Tao'' (, or ''Dao''). In Taosim the ''Tao'' is the source, pattern and substance of everything that exists. Taoism teaches ...
(often spelled "Taoism"),
Mohism Mohism or Moism () was an ancient Chinese philosophy of logic Logic (from Ancient Greek, Greek: grc, wikt:λογική, λογική, label=none, lit=possessed of reason, intellectual, dialectical, argumentative, translit=logikḗ)Also re ...
and Legalism.


Confucianism

:
Confucius } Confucius ( ; zh, s=, p=Kǒng Fūzǐ, "Master Kǒng"; or commonly zh, s=, p=Kǒngzǐ, labels=no; ) was a Chinese philosopher Chinese philosophy originates in the Spring and Autumn period () and Warring States period (), d ...
) Confucianism is a philosophical school developed from the teachings of Confucius collected and written by his disciples after his death in ''
The Analects The ''Analects'' (; ; Old Chinese: '' ŋ(r)aʔ''; meaning "Selected Sayings"), also known as the ''Analects of Confucius'', is an ancient Chinese book composed of a large collection of sayings and ideas attributed to the Chinese philosophe ...
'', and in the
Warring States period The Warring States period () was an era in ancient Chinese history characterized by warfare, as well as bureaucratic and military reforms and consolidation. It followed the Spring and Autumn period and concluded with the Qin wars of conquest ...
,
Mencius Mencius (); born Mèng Kē (); ( ) or Mengzi (372–289 BC or 385–303 or 302BC) was a Chinese Confucian philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy. The term ''philosopher'' comes from the grc, φιλόσοφος, , ...

Mencius
in '' The Mencius'' and Xunzi in '' The Xunzi''. It is a system of
moral A moral (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman R ...

moral
,
social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting populations. This interaction is considered social whether they are aware of it or not, and whether the exchange is voluntary/involuntary. Etymology The word "Social" derives fr ...
,
political Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with Decision-making, making decisions in Social group, groups, or other forms of Power (social and political), power relations between individuals, such as the distribution of reso ...

political
, and
religious Religion is a social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting populations. This interaction is considered social whether they are aware of it or not, and whether the exchange is voluntary/involuntary. Etymology ...

religious
thought that has had tremendous influence on Chinese history, thought, and culture down to the 20th century. Some Westerners have considered it to have been the "
state religion A state religion (also called an established religion or official religion) is a religion Religion is a social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting populations. This interaction is considered social whether ...
" of
imperial China The earliest known written records of the history of China date from as early as 1250 BC, from the Shang dynasty The Shang dynasty (), also historically known as the Yin dynasty (), was a Chinese dynasty that ruled in the middle and ...
because of its lasting influence on Asian culture. Its influence also spread to Korea, Japan, Vietnam and many other Asian countries. Confucianism reached its peak of influence during the Tang and
Song A song is a musical composition intended to be performed by the human voice. This is often done at melody, distinct and fixed pitches (melodies) using patterns of sound and silence. Songs contain various song form, forms, such as those includi ...
Dynasties under a rebranded Confucianism called
Neo-Confucianism Neo-Confucianism (, often shortened to ''lixue'' 理學, literally "School of Principle") is a morality, moral, ethics, ethical, and metaphysics, metaphysical Chinese philosophy influenced by Confucianism, and originated with Han Yu and Li Ao (ph ...
. Confucius expanded on the already present ideas of Chinese religion and culture to reflect the time period and environment of political chaos during the
Warring States period The Warring States period () was an era in ancient Chinese history characterized by warfare, as well as bureaucratic and military reforms and consolidation. It followed the Spring and Autumn period and concluded with the Qin wars of conquest ...
. Because Confucius embedded the Chinese culture so heavily into his philosophy it was able to resonate with the people of China. This high approval of Confucianism can be seen through the reverence of Confucius in modern-day China. The major Confucian concepts include '' rén'' (humanity or humaneness), ''zhèngmíng'' (
rectification of namesRectification of Names (). Confucius was asked what he would do if he was a governor. He said he would "rectify the songs" to make words correspond to reality. The phrase has now become known as a doctrine of feudal Confucian , Shanxi Sha ...
; e.g. a ruler who rules unjustly is no longer a ruler and may be dethroned), ''zhōng'' (loyalty), ''xiào'' (
filial piety In Confucian, Chinese Buddhist ethics, Buddhist and Taoism, Taoist ethics, filial piety (, ''xiào'') is a virtue of respect for one's parents, elders, and ancestors. The Confucian ''Classic of Filial Piety'', thought to be written around the l ...
), and '' li'' (ritual). Confucius taught both positive and negative versions of the
Golden Rule The Golden Rule is the principle of treating others as one wants to be treated. It is a maxim that is found in most religion Religion is a social system, social-cultural system of designated religious behaviour, behaviors and practices, ...

Golden Rule
. The concepts
yin and yang In Ancient Chinese philosophy, yin and yang ( and ; zh, t= ''yīnyáng'' pronounced , lit. "dark-light", "negative-positive") is a Chinese philosophy, Chinese philosophical concept that describes how obviously opposite or contrary forces m ...

yin and yang
represent two opposing forces that are permanently in conflict with each other, leading to perpetual contradiction and change. The Confucian idea of "Rid of the two ends, take the middle" is a Chinese equivalent of the idea of "thesis, antithesis, and synthesis", often attributed to
Hegel Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (; ; 27 August 1770 – 14 November 1831) was a German philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy. The term ''philosopher'' comes from the grc, φιλόσοφος, , translit=philosophos, me ...

Hegel
, which is a way of reconciling opposites, arriving at some middle ground combining the best of both. Confucius heavily emphasized the idea of microcosms in society (subunits of family and community) success's were the foundations for a successful state or country. Confucius believed in the use of education to further knowledge the people in ethics, societal behavior, and reverence in other humans. With the combination of education, successful family, and his ethical teachings he believed he could govern a well established society in China.


Taoism

d
stoneware Stoneware is a rather broad term for pottery or other ceramics fired at a relatively high temperature. A modern technical definition is a Vitrification#In ceramics, vitreous or semi-vitreous ceramic made primarily from stoneware clay or non-refrac ...
statue of a
Daoist Taoism (), or Daoism (), is a philosophical tradition of Chinese origin which emphasizes living in harmony with the ''Tao'' (, or ''Dao''). In Taosim the ''Tao'' is the source, pattern and substance of everything that exists. Taoism teaches ...
deity, from the
Ming Dynasty The Ming dynasty (), officially the Great Ming, was the ruling dynasty of China from 1368 to 1644 following the collapse of the Mongol The Mongols ( mn, Монголчууд, , ''Mongolchuud'', ; ) are an East Asian ethnic group nativ ...

Ming Dynasty
, 16th century. Taoism arose as a philosophy and later also developed into a religion based on the texts the ''
Tao Te Ching The ''Tao Te Ching'' (, ; ), is a Chinese classic text traditionally credited to the 6th-century BC sage Laozi, also known as ''Lao Tzu'' or ''Lao-Tze''. The text's authorship, date of composition and date of compilation are debated. The ol ...
'' (; ''Dào Dé Jīng;'' ascribed to
Lao Tzu Lao Tzu ("Lao Zi"
''Collins English Dictionary''.
or ),
) and the ''
ZhuangziZhuangzi may refer to: *Zhuangzi (book), ''Zhuangzi'' (book) (莊子), an ancient Chinese collection of anecdotes and fables, one of the foundational texts of Daoism **Zhuang Zhou (莊周), the historical figure known as "Master Zhuang" ("Zhuangzi") ...
'' (; partly ascribed to
Zhuang Zhou Zhuang Zhou (), commonly known as Zhuangzi (; ; literally "Master Zhuang (surname), Zhuang"; also rendered as Chuang Tzu), was an influential Chinese philosopher who lived around the 4th century BC during the Warring States period, a period corr ...
). The character '''' literally means 'path' or 'way'. However, in Taoism it refers more often to a meta-physical force that encompasses the entire universe but which cannot be described nor felt. All major Chinese philosophical schools have investigated the correct ''Way'' to go about a moral life, but in Taoism it takes on the most abstract meanings, leading this school to be named after it. It advocated nonaction (''
wu wei ''Wu wei'' () is a concept literally meaning "inexertion", "inaction", or "effortless action". ''Wu wei'' emerged in the Spring and Autumn period The Spring and Autumn period was a period in Chinese history The earliest known written ...
''), the strength of softness, spontaneity, and relativism. Although it serves as a rival to Confucianism, a school of active morality, this rivalry is compromised and given perspective by the idiom "practice Confucianism on the outside, Taoism on the inside." Most of Taoism's focus is on the notion that human attempts to make the world better actually make the world worse. Therefore, it is better to strive for harmony, minimising potentially harmful interference with nature or in human affairs.


Warring States period


Legalism

Philosopher
Han Fei Han Fei (; ; 233 BC), also known as Han Fei Zi, was a Chinese philosopher or statesman of the Legalist school during the Warring States period, and a prince of the state of Han. Han Fei is often considered to be the greatest representative of ...
synthesized together earlier the methods of his predecessors, which famous historian
Sima Tan Sima Tan (; 165–110  BCE) was a Chinese astrologer and historian during the Western Han dynasty. Education & career Sima Tan studied astronomy with Tang Du, the ''I Ching The ''I Ching'' or ''Yi Jing'' (, ), usually translated as ...
posthumously termed Legalism. With an essential principle like "when the epoch changed, the ways changed", late pre-
Han Dynasty#REDIRECT Han dynasty The Han dynasty () was the second Dynasties in Chinese history, imperial dynasty of China (202 BC – 220 AD), established by the rebel leader Liu Bang and ruled by the House of Liu. Preceded by the short-lived Qin dynas ...

Han Dynasty
reformers emphasized rule by law. In Han Fei's philosophy, a ruler should govern his subjects by the following trinity: #Fa ( fǎ): law or principle. #Shu ( shù): method, tactic, art, or statecraft. #Shi ( shì): legitimacy, power, or charisma. What has been termed by some as the intrastate Realpolitik of the Warring States period was highly progressive, and extremely critical of the
Confucian , Shanxi Confucianism, also known as Ruism, is a system of thought and behavior originating in ancient China. Variously described as tradition, a philosophy, a religion, a humanistic or rationalistic religion, a way of governing, or simply a ...
and
Mohist Mohism or Moism () was an ancient Chinese philosophy Chinese philosophy originates in the Spring and Autumn period () and Warring States period (), during a period known as the "Hundred Schools of Thought", which was characteri ...
schools. But that of the
Qin dynasty The Qin dynasty, or Ch'in dynasty in Wade–Giles Wade–Giles () is a Romanization of Chinese, romanization system for Standard Chinese, Mandarin Chinese. It developed from a system produced by Thomas Francis Wade, during the mid-19th ...
would be blamed for creating a
totalitarian 259x259px, Democracy Index by the Economist Intelligence Unit (2020): perceived authoritarian regimes in red, democracies in green, and color intensity ≈ regime intensity Totalitarianism is a form of government and a political system that prohi ...
society, thereby experiencing decline. Its main motto is: "Set clear strict laws, or deliver harsh punishment". In Han Fei's philosophy the ruler possessed authority regarding reward and penalty, enacted through law. Shang Yang and Han Fei promoted absolute adherence to the law, regardless of the circumstances or the person. Ministers were only to be rewarded if their words were accurate to the results of their proposals. Legalism, in accordance with Shang Yang's interpretation, could encourage the state to be a
militaristic Militarism is the belief or the desire of a government or a people that a state should maintain a strong military capability and to use it aggressively to expand national interests and/or values. It may also imply the glorification of the milit ...
autarky Autarky is the characteristic of self-sufficiency, usually applied to societies, communities, states and their economic systems. Autarky as an ideal or method has been embraced by a wide range of political ideologies and movements, especially ...
.


Naturalists

The
School of Naturalists The School of Naturalists or the School of Yin-yang () was a Warring States-era philosophy that synthesized the concepts of yin-yang and the Five Elements. Overview Zou Yan Zou Yan (; ; 305 BC240 BC) was an ancient Chinese philosopher best k ...
or the School of Yin-yang () was a
Warring States The Warring States period () was an era in ancient Chinese history characterized by warfare, as well as bureaucratic and military reforms and consolidation. It followed the Spring and Autumn period and concluded with the Qin wars of conquest ...
era philosophy that synthesized the concepts of
yin-yang In Ancient Chinese philosophy, yin and yang ( and ; zh, t= ''yīnyáng'' pronounced , lit. "bright-black", "positive-negative") is a concept of dualism, describing how seemingly opposite or contrary forces may actually be complementary, ...
and the
Wu XingWuxing may refer to: *Wuxing (Chinese philosophy) File:VM Mu-Huo-Tu-Jin-Shui zhi Shen 4594.jpg, Tablet in the Temple of Heaven of Beijing, written in Chinese language, Chinese and Manchu language, Manchu, dedicated to the Wufang Shangdi, gods ...
;
Zou Yan Zou Yan (; ; 305 BC240 BC) was an ancient Chinese philosopher best known as the representative thinker of the Yin and Yang School (or School of Naturalists) during the Hundred Schools of Thought era in Chinese philosophy. Biography Zou Yan was a ...
is considered the founder of this school. His theory attempted to explain the universe in terms of basic forces in nature: the complementary agents of yin (dark, cold, female, negative) and yang (light, hot, male, positive) and the Five Elements or Five Phases (water, fire, wood, metal, and earth). In its early days, this theory was most strongly associated with the states of Yan and Qi. In later periods, these epistemological theories came to hold significance in both philosophy and popular belief. This school was absorbed into Taoism's alchemic and magical dimensions as well as into the Chinese medical framework. The earliest surviving recordings of this are in the Ma Wang Dui texts and Huang Di Nei Jing.


Mohism

Mohism (Moism), founded by
Mozi Mozi (; ; Latinized as Micius ; c. 470 – c. 391 BC), original name Mo Di (), was a Chinese philosopher Chinese philosophy originates in the Spring and Autumn period () and Warring States period (), during a period kn ...

Mozi
(), promotes universal love with the aim of mutual benefit. Everyone must love each other equally and impartially to avoid conflict and war. Mozi was strongly against Confucian ritual, instead emphasizing
pragmatic Pragmatism Pragmatism is a philosophical tradition that considers words and thought as tools and instruments for prediction, problem solving, and action, and rejects the idea that the function of thought is to describe, represent, or mirror ...
survival through farming,
fortification A fortification is a military A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for warfare. It is typically officially authorized and maintained by a sovereign state, w ...

fortification
, and statecraft. Tradition is inconsistent, and human beings need an extra-traditional guide to identify which traditions are acceptable. The moral guide must then promote and encourage social behaviors that maximize general benefit. As motivation for his theory, Mozi brought in the ''Will of Heaven'', but rather than being religious his philosophy parallels
utilitarianism Utilitarianism is a family of normative Normative generally means relating to an evaluative standard. Normativity is the phenomenon in human societies of designating some actions or outcomes as good or desirable or permissible and others as bad ...
.


Logicians

The logicians (School of Names) were concerned with logic, paradoxes, names and actuality (similar to Confucian rectification of names). The logician
Hui ShiHui Shi (; 370–310 BCE), or Huizi (; "Master Hui"), was a Chinese philosopher Chinese philosophy originates in the Spring and Autumn period () and Warring States period (), during a period known as the "Hundred Schools of Thought ...
was a friendly rival to
ZhuangziZhuangzi may refer to: *Zhuangzi (book), ''Zhuangzi'' (book) (莊子), an ancient Chinese collection of anecdotes and fables, one of the foundational texts of Daoism **Zhuang Zhou (莊周), the historical figure known as "Master Zhuang" ("Zhuangzi") ...
, arguing against Taoism in a light-hearted and humorous manner. Another logician,
Gongsun Long Gongsun Long (, BCLiu 2004, p. 336), courtesy name Zibing (子秉), was a Chinese philosopher and writer who was a member of the School of Names (Logicians) of ancient Chinese philosophy Chinese philosophy originates in the S ...
, originated the famous
When a White Horse is Not a Horse When a white horse is not a horse () is a paradox in Chinese philosophy. Around 300 BC, Gongsun Long wrote this dialectic analysis of the question "Can one legitimately assert white horse'' is not ''horse?", in a work now named for him, ...
dialogue. This school did not thrive because the Chinese regarded
sophistry A sophist ( el, σοφιστής, ''sophistes'') was a teacher in ancient Greece Ancient Greece ( el, Ἑλλάς, Hellás) was a civilization belonging to a period of History of Greece, Greek history from the Greek Dark Ages of the 12th–9 ...
and
dialectic Dialectic or dialectics ( grc-gre, διαλεκτική, ''dialektikḗ''; related to dialogue Dialogue (sometimes spelled dialog in American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English ...
as impractical.


Agriculturalists

AgriculturalismAgriculturalism, also known as the School of Agrarianism, the School of Agronomists, the School of Tillers, and in Chinese as the ''Nongjia'' (), was an early agrarian Chinese philosophy Chinese philosophy originates in the Spring ...
was an early
agrarian Agrarian means pertaining to agriculture, farmland, or rural areas. Agrarian may refer to: Political philosophy *Agrarianism *Agrarian law, Roman laws regulating the division of the public lands *Agrarian reform *Agrarian socialism Society * ...
social and political philosophy that advocated peasant
utopian A utopia ( ) is an imagined community or society A society is a Social group, group of individuals involved in persistent Social relation, social interaction, or a large social group sharing the same spatial or social territory, typically s ...
communalism Communalism is a political philosophy and economic system that integrates communal ownership and confederations of highly localized independent communities. Murray Bookchin, a prominent libertarian socialist, defined the communalism he de ...
and
egalitarianism Egalitarianism (), or equalitarianism, is a school of thought A school of thought, or intellectual tradition, is the perspective of a group of people who share common characteristics of opinion or outlook of a philosophy Philosophy ...
. The philosophy is founded on the notion that human society originates with the development of
agriculture Agriculture is the science, art and practice of cultivating plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of sedentism, sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of domestication, domesticated species created food ...
, and societies are based upon "people's natural prospensity to farm." The Agriculturalists believed that the ideal government, modeled after the semi-mythical governance of
Shennong Shennong (), variously translated as "Divine Farmer" or "Divine Husbandman", was a mythological Chinese ruler who has become a deity in Chinese and Vietnamese folk religion Vietnamese folk religion or Vietnamese indigenous religion ( vi, ...

Shennong
, is led by a benevolent king, one who works alongside the people in tilling the fields. The Agriculturalist king is not paid by the government through its treasuries; his livelihood is derived from the profits he earns working in the fields, not his leadership. Unlike the Confucians, the Agriculturalists did not believe in the
division of labour The division of labour is the separation of tasks in any economic system An economic system, or economic order, is a system of Production (economics), production, allocation of resources, resource allocation and Distribution (economics), distri ...
, arguing instead that the economic policies of a country need to be based upon an egalitarian
self sufficiency Self-sustainability and self-sufficiency are overlapping states of being in which a person or organization needs little or no help from, or interaction with, others. Self-sufficiency entails the self being enough (to fulfill needs), and a self-sus ...
. The Agriculturalists supported the fixing of prices, in which all similar goods, regardless of differences in quality and demand, are set at exactly the same, unchanging price.


Early Imperial era philosophy


History


Qin and Han Dynasties

The short founder
Qin dynasty The Qin dynasty, or Ch'in dynasty in Wade–Giles Wade–Giles () is a Romanization of Chinese, romanization system for Standard Chinese, Mandarin Chinese. It developed from a system produced by Thomas Francis Wade, during the mid-19th ...
, where Legalism was the official philosophy, quashed Mohist and Confucianist schools. Legalism remained influential during the early
Han Dynasty#REDIRECT Han dynasty The Han dynasty () was the second Dynasties in Chinese history, imperial dynasty of China (202 BC – 220 AD), established by the rebel leader Liu Bang and ruled by the House of Liu. Preceded by the short-lived Qin dynas ...

Han Dynasty
under the Taoist-Realist ideology Huang-Lao until
Emperor Wu of Han Emperor Wu of Han (30 July 157BC29 March 87BC), formally posthumous name, enshrined as Emperor Wu the filial piety, Filial (), born Liu Che (劉徹) and courtesy name Tong (通), was the seventh emperor of China, emperor of the Han dynasty of imp ...

Emperor Wu of Han
adopted Confucianism as official doctrine. Confucianism and Taoism became the determining forces of Chinese thought until the introduction of
Buddhism Buddhism (, ) is the Major religious groups#Largest religions, world's fourth-largest religion with over 520 million followers, or over 7% of the global population, known as Buddhists. Buddhism encompasses a variety of traditions, beliefs and ...
. Confucianism was particularly strong during the Han dynasty, whose greatest thinker was
Dong Zhongshu Dong Zhongshu (; 179–104 BC) was a Chinese Chinese can refer to: * Something related to China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by populatio ...
, who integrated Confucianism with the thoughts of the Zhongshu School and the theory of the Five Elements. He also was a promoter of the New Text school, which considered Confucius as a divine figure and a spiritual ruler of China, who foresaw and started the evolution of the world towards the Universal Peace. In contrast, there was an Old Text school that advocated the use of Confucian works written in ancient language (from this comes the denomination ''Old Text'') that were so much more reliable. In particular, they refuted the assumption of Confucius as a godlike figure and considered him as the greatest sage, but simply a human and mortal


Six Dynasties

The 3rd and 4th centuries saw the rise of the ''
Xuanxue Xuanxue () is a metaphysical Post-classical history, post-classical Chinese philosophy from the Six Dynasties (222-589), bringing together Taoist and Confucianism, Confucian beliefs through revision and discussion. The movement found its scriptural ...
'' (mysterious learning), also called ''Neo-Taoism''.
Buddhism Buddhism (, ) is the Major religious groups#Largest religions, world's fourth-largest religion with over 520 million followers, or over 7% of the global population, known as Buddhists. Buddhism encompasses a variety of traditions, beliefs and ...
arrived in China around the 1st century AD, but it was not until the Northern and Southern, Sui and Tang dynasties that it gained considerable influence and acknowledgement. At the beginning, it was considered a sort of Taoist sect.
Mahayana Buddhism Mahāyāna (; "Great Vehicle") is a term for a broad group of Buddhist traditions, texts, philosophies, and practices. Mahāyāna is considered one of the two main existing branches of Buddhism (the other being Theravada). Mahāyāna Buddhism de ...
was far more successful in China than its rival
Hinayana "Hīnayāna" () is a Sanskrit Sanskrit (, attributively , ''saṃskṛta-'', nominalization, nominally , ''saṃskṛtam'') is a classical language of South Asia belonging to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European lan ...
, and both Indian schools and local Chinese sects arose from the 5th century. Two chiefly important monk philosophers were
Sengzhao Sengzhao (or Seng-Chao) (; ja, 僧肇, ''Sōjō''; 384–414) was a Chinese Buddhist Buddhism (, ) is the world's fourth-largest religion Religion is a social system, social-cultural system of designated religious behaviour, behavio ...
and Daosheng. But probably the most influential and original of these schools was the
Chan Chan may refer to: Places *Chan (commune), Cambodia *Chan Lake, by Chan Lake Territorial Park in Northwest Territories, Canada People *Chan (surname), romanisation of various Chinese surnames (including 陳, 曾, 詹, 戰, and 田) *Chan Caldwell ...
sect, which had an even stronger impact in Japan as the
Zen Zen ( zh, t=禪, p=Chán; ja, text= 禅, translit=zen; ko, text=선, translit=Seon; vi, text=Thiền) is a school of Mahayana Buddhism that originated in China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country i ...

Zen
sect. In the mid-Tang Buddhism reached its peak, and reportedly there were 4,600 monasteries, 40,000 hermitages and 260,500 monks and nuns. The power of the Buddhist clergy was so great and the wealth of the monasteries so impressive, that it instigated criticism from Confucian scholars, who considered Buddhism as a foreign religion. In 845 Emperor Wuzong ordered the
Great Anti-Buddhist Persecution The Huichang Persecution of Buddhism was initiated by Tang Emperor Wuzong during the Huichang era (841-845). Among its purposes were to appropriate war funds and to cleanse China of foreign influences. As such, the persecution was directed not ...
, confiscating the riches and returning monks and nuns to lay life. From then on, Buddhism lost much of its influence.


Schools of thought


Xuanxue

Xuanxue Xuanxue () is a metaphysical Post-classical history, post-classical Chinese philosophy from the Six Dynasties (222-589), bringing together Taoist and Confucianism, Confucian beliefs through revision and discussion. The movement found its scriptural ...
was a philosophical school that combined elements of
Confucianism , Shanxi Shanxi (; ; Chinese postal romanization, formerly romanised as Shansi) is a landlocked Provinces of China, province of the China, People's Republic of China and is part of the North China region. The capital and largest city of th ...
and
Taoism Taoism (), or Daoism (), is a philosophical and spiritual tradition of China, Chinese origin which emphasizes living in harmony with the ''Tao'' (, Taoism#Spelling and pronunciation, or ''Dao''). In Taoism, the ''Tao'' is the source, pattern a ...
to reinterpret the
I Ching The ''I Ching'' or ''Yi Jing'' (, ), usually translated as ''Book of Changes'' or ''Classic of Changes'', is an ancient Chinese divination text and among the oldest of the Chinese classics. Originally a divination manual in the Western Zhou ...
'',''
Tao Te Ching The ''Tao Te Ching'' (, ; ), is a Chinese classic text traditionally credited to the 6th-century BC sage Laozi, also known as ''Lao Tzu'' or ''Lao-Tze''. The text's authorship, date of composition and date of compilation are debated. The ol ...
'','' and ''
ZhuangziZhuangzi may refer to: *Zhuangzi (book), ''Zhuangzi'' (book) (莊子), an ancient Chinese collection of anecdotes and fables, one of the foundational texts of Daoism **Zhuang Zhou (莊周), the historical figure known as "Master Zhuang" ("Zhuangzi") ...
.'' The most important philosophers of this movement were
Wang Bi Wang Bi (226–249), courtesy name Fusi, was a Chinese philosopher and politician. Life Wang Bi served as a minor bureaucrat in the state of Cao Wei during the Three Kingdoms period. He was married with a daughter when he died of sickness at the ...
,
Xiang XiuXiang Xiu () is one of the Seven Sages of the Bamboo Grove. His most famous contribution is a commentary on the ZhuangziZhuangzi may refer to: *Zhuangzi (book), ''Zhuangzi'' (book) (莊子), an ancient Chinese collection of anecdotes and fables, on ...
and
Guo Xiang Guo Xiang (; born 252 AD – died 312 AD) is credited with the first and most important revision of the text known as the ''ZhuangziZhuangzi may refer to: *Zhuangzi (book), ''Zhuangzi'' (book) (莊子), an ancient Chinese collection of anecdote ...
. The main question of this school was whether Being came before Not-Being (in Chinese, ''ming'' and ''wuming''). A peculiar feature of these Taoist thinkers, like the
Seven Sages of the Bamboo Grove The Seven Sages of the Bamboo Grove (also known as the Seven Worthies of the Bamboo Grove, ) were a group of Chinese scholars, writers, and musicians of the third century CE. Although the various individuals all existed, their interconnection is n ...

Seven Sages of the Bamboo Grove
, was the concept of ''feng liu'' (lit. wind and flow), a sort of romantic spirit which encouraged following the natural and instinctive impulse.


Buddhism

300px, ''The Gautama Buddha, Sakyamuni Buddha'', by artist Zhang Shengwen, 1173-1176 CE,
Song dynasty The Song dynasty (; ; 960–1279) was an imperial dynasty of China that began in 960 and lasted until 1279. The dynasty was founded by Emperor Taizu of Song following his usurpation of the throne of the Later Zhou, ending the Five Dynasties a ...
.
Buddhism Buddhism (, ) is the Major religious groups#Largest religions, world's fourth-largest religion with over 520 million followers, or over 7% of the global population, known as Buddhists. Buddhism encompasses a variety of traditions, beliefs and ...
is a
religion Religion is a social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting populations. This interaction is considered social whether they are aware of it or not, and whether the exchange is voluntary/involuntary. Etymology ...

religion
, a
practical philosophyThe modern division of philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, Metaphysics, existence, Epistemology, knowledge, Ethics, values, Philosophy of mind, mind, and Philosoph ...
, and arguably a
psychology Psychology is the science of mind and behavior. Psychology includes the study of consciousness, conscious and Unconscious mind, unconscious phenomena, as well as feeling and thought. It is an academic discipline of immense scope. Psychologis ...

psychology
, focusing on the teachings of
Gautama Buddha Gautama Buddha, popularly known as the Buddha (also known as Siddhattha Gotama or Siddhārtha Gautama or Buddha Shakyamuni), was an Śramaṇa, ascetic, a religious leader and teacher who lived in History of India#Iron Age (1500 – 200 BCE ...

Gautama Buddha
, who lived on the Indian subcontinent most likely from the mid-6th to the early 5th century BCE. When used in a generic sense, a
Buddha Gautama Buddha, popularly known as the Buddha (also known as Siddhattha Gotama or Siddhārtha Gautama or Buddha Shakyamuni), was an Śramaṇa, ascetic, a religious leader and teacher who lived in History of India#Iron Age (1500 – 200 BCE ...
is generally considered to be someone who discovers the true nature of reality. Buddhism until the 4th century AD had little impact on China but in the 4th century its teachings hybridized with those of Taoism. Buddhism brought to China the idea of many hells, where sinners went, but the deceased sinners souls could be saved by pious acts. Since Chinese traditional thought focused more on ethics rather than
metaphysics Metaphysics is the branch of philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, Metaphysics, existence, Epistemology, knowledge, Ethics, values, Philosophy of mind, mind, and ...

metaphysics
, the merging of Buddhist and Taoist concepts developed several schools distinct from the originating Indian schools. The most prominent examples with philosophical merit are Sanlun,
Tiantai Tiantai or T'ien-t'ai () is an East Asian Buddhism, East Asian Buddhist school of Mahayana Buddhism, Mahayana that developed in Sui dynasty, sixth century China. The school emphasizes the ''Lotus Sutra's'' doctrine of the "One Vehicle" (''Ekay ...
,
Huayan The Huayan or Flower Garland school of Buddhism (, from sa, script=Latn, Avataṃsaka) is a tradition of Mahayana Buddhist philosophy that first flourished in China during the Tang dynasty. The Huayan worldview is based primarily on the ''Avatams ...
, and
Chán Chan (; of ), from Sanskrit Sanskrit (, attributively , ''saṃskṛta-'', nominalization, nominally , ''saṃskṛtam'') is a classical language of South Asia belonging to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-Europe ...
(a.k.a. Zen). They investigate
consciousness , an English Paracelsian Paracelsianism (also Paracelsism; German: ') was an early modern History of medicine, medical movement based on the theories and therapies of Paracelsus. It developed in the second half of the 16th century, during the ...
, levels of truth, whether reality is ultimately empty, and how
enlightenment Enlightenment, enlighten or enlightened may refer to: Age of Enlightenment * Age of Enlightenment, period in Western intellectual history from the late 17th to late 18th century, centered in France but also encompassing: ** Midlands Enlightenment ...
is to be achieved. Buddhism has a spiritual aspect that complements the action of
Neo-Confucianism Neo-Confucianism (, often shortened to ''lixue'' 理學, literally "School of Principle") is a morality, moral, ethics, ethical, and metaphysics, metaphysical Chinese philosophy influenced by Confucianism, and originated with Han Yu and Li Ao (ph ...
, with prominent Neo-Confucians advocating certain forms of meditation.


Mid to Late Imperial era philosophy


History

Neo-Confucianism Neo-Confucianism (, often shortened to ''lixue'' 理學, literally "School of Principle") is a morality, moral, ethics, ethical, and metaphysics, metaphysical Chinese philosophy influenced by Confucianism, and originated with Han Yu and Li Ao (ph ...
was a revived version of old Confucian principles that appeared around the
Song dynasty The Song dynasty (; ; 960–1279) was an imperial dynasty of China that began in 960 and lasted until 1279. The dynasty was founded by Emperor Taizu of Song following his usurpation of the throne of the Later Zhou, ending the Five Dynasties a ...
, with
Buddhist Buddhism (, ) is the world's fourth-largest religion Religion is a social system, social-cultural system of designated religious behaviour, behaviors and practices, morality, morals, beliefs, worldviews, religious text, texts, shrine, ...

Buddhist
,
Taoist Taoism (), or Daoism (), is a philosophical tradition of Chinese origin which emphasizes living in harmony with the ''Tao'' (, or ''Dao''). In Taosim the ''Tao'' is the source, pattern and substance of everything that exists. Taoism teaches ...
, and
Legalist Legalist, Inc. is a Legal financing, litigation finance company based in San Francisco, California that funds commercial lawsuits on behalf of plaintiff attorneys, applying machine learning algorithms to evaluate its potential investments. History ...
features. The first philosophers, such as
Shao YongImage:Shao Yong.jpg, 200px, Shao Yong Shao Yong (; 1011–1077), courtesy name Yaofu (堯夫), named Shào Kāngjié (邵康節) was a Chinese cosmologist, historian, philosopher, and poet who greatly influenced the development of Neo-Confucianism ...

Shao Yong
,
Zhou Dunyi Zhou Dunyi (; 1017–1073) was a Chinese philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy. The term ''philosopher'' comes from the grc, φιλόσοφος, , translit=philosophos, meaning 'lover of wisdom'. The coining of the t ...
and Chang Zai, were
cosmologists Physical cosmology is a branch of cosmology Cosmology (from Ancient Greek, Greek κόσμος, ''kosmos'' "world" and -λογία, ''-logia'' "study of") is a branch of astronomy concerned with the studies of the origin and evolution of the ...
and worked on the
Yi Jing The ''I Ching'' or ''Yi Jing'' (, ), usually translated as ''Book of Changes'' or ''Classic of Changes'', is an ancient Chinese divination text and among the oldest of the Chinese classics. Originally a divination manual in the Western Zhou p ...
. The Cheng brothers, Cheng Yi and
Cheng Hao Chéng Hào (, 1032–1085), Courtesy name A courtesy name (), also known as a style name, is a name bestowed upon one at adulthood in addition to one's given name. This practice is a tradition in the Sinosphere, including China, Japan, K ...

Cheng Hao
, are considered the founders of the two main schools of thought of Neo-Confucianism: the School of Principle the first, the School of Mind the latter. The School of Principle gained supremacy during the Song dynasty with the philosophical system elaborated by Zhu Xi, which became mainstream and officially adopted by the government for the Imperial examinations under the Yuan dynasty. The School of Mind was developed by Lu Jiuyuan, Zhu Xi's main rival, but was soon forgotten. Only during the Ming dynasty was the School of Mind revived by Wang Yangming, Wang Shouren, whose influence is equal to that of Zhu Xi. This school was particularly important in Japan. During the
Qing dynasty The Qing dynasty, officially the Great Qing (), was the last Dynasties in Chinese history, dynasty in the History of China#Imperial China, imperial history of China. It was established in 1636, and ruled China proper from 1644 to 1912, wi ...
many philosophers objected against Neo-Confucianism and there was a return to the Han Dynasty Confucianism, and also the reprise of the controversy between Old Text and New Text. In this period also started the penetration of Western culture, but most Chinese thought that the Westerners were maybe more advanced in technology and warfare, but that China had primacy in moral and intellectual fields.


Schools of thought


Neo-Confucianism

Despite Confucianism losing popularity to Taoism and Buddhism,
Neo-Confucianism Neo-Confucianism (, often shortened to ''lixue'' 理學, literally "School of Principle") is a morality, moral, ethics, ethical, and metaphysics, metaphysical Chinese philosophy influenced by Confucianism, and originated with Han Yu and Li Ao (ph ...
combined those ideas into a more metaphysics, metaphysical framework. Its concepts include ''Li (Neo-Confucianism), li'' (principle, akin to Plato's Theory of forms, forms), ''qi'' (vital or material force), ''Taiji (philosophy), tai-chi'' (the Great Ultimate), and ''Xin (concept), xin'' (mind).
Song dynasty The Song dynasty (; ; 960–1279) was an imperial dynasty of China that began in 960 and lasted until 1279. The dynasty was founded by Emperor Taizu of Song following his usurpation of the throne of the Later Zhou, ending the Five Dynasties a ...
philosopher
Zhou Dunyi Zhou Dunyi (; 1017–1073) was a Chinese philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy. The term ''philosopher'' comes from the grc, φιλόσοφος, , translit=philosophos, meaning 'lover of wisdom'. The coining of the t ...
(1017–1073) is seen commonly seen as the first true "pioneer" of Neo-Confucianism, using Daoist metaphysics as a framework for his ethical philosophy.. Neo-Confucianism developed both as a renaissance of traditional Confucian ideas, and as a reaction to the ideas of Buddhism and religious Daoism. Although the Neo-Confucianists denounced Buddhist metaphysics, Neo-Confucianism did borrow Daoist and Buddhist terminology and concepts. Neo-Confucianist philosophers like Zhu Xi and Wang Yangming are seen as the most important figures of Neo-Confucianism.


Modern era

During the Industrial and Modern Ages, Chinese philosophy had also begun to integrate concepts of Western philosophy, as steps toward modernization. Chinese philosophy never developed the concept of human rights, so that classical Chinese lacked words for them. In 1864, William Alexander Parsons Martin, W.A.P. Martin had to invent the word ''quanli'' () to translate the Western concept of "rights" in the process of translating Henry Wheaton's ''Elements of International Law'' into classical Chinese. By the time of the
Xinhai Revolution The 1911 Revolution, also known as the Chinese Revolution or the Xinhai Revolution, ended China's last imperial dynasty, the Manchu-led Qing dynasty The Qing dynasty, officially the Great Qing (), was the last Dynasties in Chinese hi ...
in 1911, there were many calls such as the
May Fourth Movement The May Fourth Movement was a Chinese anti-imperialist, cultural, and political movement which grew out of student protests in Beijing Beijing ( ), Chinese postal romanization, alternatively romanized as Peking ( ), is the Capital ci ...
to completely abolish the old imperial institutions and practices of China. There have been attempts to incorporate
democracy Democracy ( gr, δημοκρατία, ''dēmokratiā'', from ''dēmos'' 'people' and ''kratos'' 'rule') is a form of government in which people, the people have the authority to deliberate and decide legislation ("direct democracy"), or to choo ...

democracy
,
republicanism Republicanism is a political ideology centered on citizenship in a state (polity), state organized as a republic. Historically, it ranges from the rule of a representative minority or oligarchy to popular sovereignty. It has had different defini ...
, and industrialism into Chinese philosophy, notably by
Sun Yat-Sen Sun Yat-sen (; born Sun Deming; 12 November 1866 – 12 March 1925) Singtao daily. Saturday edition. 23 October 2010. section A18. Sun Yat-sen Xinhai revolution 100th anniversary edition . was a Chinese statesman, physician, and political ph ...

Sun Yat-Sen
at the beginning of the 20th century.
Mao Zedong Mao Zedong pronounced ; also Romanization of Chinese, romanised traditionally as Mao Tse-tung. (December 26, 1893 – September 9, 1976), also known as Chairman Mao, was a Chinese communist revolutionary who was the Proclamation of the P ...

Mao Zedong
added
Marxism Marxism is a method of socioeconomic analysis that uses a Economic materialism, materialist interpretation of historical development, better known as historical materialism, to understand Social class, class relations and social conflict as well ...
, Stalinism, Chinese Marxist Philosophy and other Communism, communist thought. When the Chinese Communist Party Chinese Civil War, took over the reign, previous schools of thought, excepting notably Legalism, were denounced as backward, and later even purged during the Cultural Revolution, whereas their influences on Chinese thoughts remain until today. The current government of the China, People's Republic of China is trying to encourage a form of Socialism with Chinese characteristics, market socialism. Since the radical movement of the Cultural Revolution, the Chinese government has become much more tolerant with the practice of traditional beliefs. The 1978 Constitution of the People's Republic of China guarantees "freedom of religion" with a number of restrictions. Spiritual and philosophical institutions have been allowed to be established or re-established, as long they are not perceived to be a threat to the power of the Chinese Communist Party, CPC. Moreover, those organizations are heavily monitored. The influences of the past are still deeply ingrained in the Chinese culture.


New Confucianism

New Confucianism is an intellectual movement of
Confucianism , Shanxi Shanxi (; ; Chinese postal romanization, formerly romanised as Shansi) is a landlocked Provinces of China, province of the China, People's Republic of China and is part of the North China region. The capital and largest city of th ...
that began in the early 20th century in Republican China, and revived in post-Mao Zedong, Mao era People's Republic of China, contemporary communist China. It is deeply influenced by, but not identical with, the
Neo-Confucianism Neo-Confucianism (, often shortened to ''lixue'' 理學, literally "School of Principle") is a morality, moral, ethics, ethical, and metaphysics, metaphysical Chinese philosophy influenced by Confucianism, and originated with Han Yu and Li Ao (ph ...
of the
Song A song is a musical composition intended to be performed by the human voice. This is often done at melody, distinct and fixed pitches (melodies) using patterns of sound and silence. Songs contain various song form, forms, such as those includi ...
and Ming Dynasty, Ming dynasties.


Philosophers

*
Confucius } Confucius ( ; zh, s=, p=Kǒng Fūzǐ, "Master Kǒng"; or commonly zh, s=, p=Kǒngzǐ, labels=no; ) was a Chinese philosopher Chinese philosophy originates in the Spring and Autumn period () and Warring States period (), d ...
, seen as the Great Master but sometimes ridiculed by Taoists. **
Mencius Mencius (); born Mèng Kē (); ( ) or Mengzi (372–289 BC or 385–303 or 302BC) was a Chinese Confucian philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy. The term ''philosopher'' comes from the grc, φιλόσοφος, , ...

Mencius
, Confucius' follower having idealist inspiration ** Xun Zi, another Confucius' follower, closer to realism, teacher of Han Fei and Li Si ** Zhu Xi, founder of
Neo-Confucianism Neo-Confucianism (, often shortened to ''lixue'' 理學, literally "School of Principle") is a morality, moral, ethics, ethical, and metaphysics, metaphysical Chinese philosophy influenced by Confucianism, and originated with Han Yu and Li Ao (ph ...
** Wang Yangming, most influential proponent of ''xinxue'' or "state of mind." * Lao Zi, Lao Tzu, the chief of Taoist school. ** Zhuang Zhou, Chuang Tzu, said to be the author of the ''
ZhuangziZhuangzi may refer to: *Zhuangzi (book), ''Zhuangzi'' (book) (莊子), an ancient Chinese collection of anecdotes and fables, one of the foundational texts of Daoism **Zhuang Zhou (莊周), the historical figure known as "Master Zhuang" ("Zhuangzi") ...
''. ** Lie Yukou, Liezi, said to be the author of the ''Liezi''. *
Mozi Mozi (; ; Latinized as Micius ; c. 470 – c. 391 BC), original name Mo Di (), was a Chinese philosopher Chinese philosophy originates in the Spring and Autumn period () and Warring States period (), during a period kn ...

Mozi
, the founder of Mohist school. * Shang Yang, Legalist founder and pivotal Qin reformer *
Han Fei Han Fei (; ; 233 BC), also known as Han Fei Zi, was a Chinese philosopher or statesman of the Legalist school during the Warring States period, and a prince of the state of Han. Han Fei is often considered to be the greatest representative of ...
, one of the most notable theoreticians of Legalism * Li Si, major proponent and practitioner of Legalism


Concepts

Although the individual philosophical schools differ considerably, they nevertheless share a common vocabulary and set of concerns. Among the terms commonly found in Chinese philosophy are: * (the Way, or one's doctrine) * De (Chinese), De (virtue, power) * Li (Neo-Confucianism), Li (principle) * Qi (vital energy or material force) * The ''Taiji (philosophy), Tai-chi'' (''Great Heavenly Axis'') forms a unity of the two complementary polarities, ''Yin and Yang''. The word ''Yin'' originally referred to a hillside facing away from the sun. Philosophically, it stands the dark, passive, feminine principle; whereas ''Yang'' (the hillside facing the sun) stands for the bright, active, masculine principle. Yin and Yang are not antagonistic, they alternate in inverse proportion to one another—like the rise and fall of a wave. Among the commonalities of Chinese philosophies are: * The tendency not to view man as separate from nature. * Questions about the nature and existence of a Chinese names for the God of Abrahamic religions, monotheistic deity, which have profoundly influenced Western philosophy, have not been important in Chinese philosophies or a source of great conflict in Chinese traditional religion. * The belief that the purpose of philosophy is primarily to serve as an ethical and practical guide. * The political focus: most scholars of the Hundred Schools of Thought, Hundred Schools were trying to convince the ruler to behave in the way they defended.


See also


References


Further reading

* Bo Mou (Editor), ''History of Chinese Philosophy'', Routledge, 2009. * Antonio Cua, Antonio S. Cua (Editor), ''Encyclopedia of Chinese Philosophy'', Routledge, 2003. * Feng Youlan, ''A History of Chinese Philosophy'' (Princeton Paperbacks), tr. Derk Bodde, 1983. * Herrlee Glessner Creel, ''Chinese Thought, from Confucius to Mao Zedong'', 1971. * A. C. Graham, ''Disputers of the Tao; Philosophical Argument in Ancient China'', 1989. * Christoph Harbsmeier, ''Logic and Language in Ancient China'', (Joseph Needham, ''Science and Civilisation in China'', Volume 7, Part I, Cambridge University Press, 1998. * Philip J. Ivanhoe and Bryan W. Van Norden (Editors), ''Readings in Classical Chinese Philosophy'', 2nd edition, Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing, 2005. * Karyn Lai, ''Introduction to Chinese Philosophy'', Cambridge University Press, 2008. * Lin Yutang, ''The Importance of Living'', William Morrow Paperbacks, 1998. * Jana S. Rošker, ''Searching for the Way: Theory of Knowledge in Pre-modern and Modern Chinese Philosophy'' Hong Kong Chinese University Press, 2008. * Roel Sterckx, ''Chinese Thought. From Confucius to Cook Ding.'' London: Penguin, 2019. * Roel Sterckx, ''Ways of Heaven. An Introduction to Chinese Thought.'' New York: Basic Books, 2019. * Justin Tiwald and Bryan W. Van Norden (Editors), ''Readings in Later Chinese Philosophy: Han Dynasty to the 20th Century'', Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing, 2014. * Bryan W. Van Norden, ''Introduction to Classical Chinese Philosophy'', Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing, 2011. * Arthur Waley, ''Three Ways of Thought in Ancient China'', 1983.


External links

* * * * * * * *
Article "The Chinese Concept of Space"





Chinese Text Project
- Chinese philosophy texts in classical Chinese with English and modern Chinese translations *
Contesting Confucius
Henry Zhao, New Left Review 44, March–April 2007 * ''Encyclopédie ou Dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers'', 1751–1772,
"Philosophie des Chinois
[in French]
Warp Weft and Way
- A Group Blog of Chinese and Comparative Philosophy {{DEFAULTSORT:Chinese Philosophy Chinese philosophy, Chinese culture History of China Chinese literature Philosophy by culture