Confucius ( ; zh, s=, p=Kǒng Fūzǐ, "Master Kǒng"; or commonly zh, s=, p=Kǒngzǐ, labels=no; – ) was a Chinese philosopher and politician of the
Spring and Autumn period
The Spring and Autumn period was a period in Chinese history from approximately 770 to 476 BC (or according to some authorities until 403 BC) which corresponds roughly to the first half of the Eastern Zhou period. The period's name derives f ...
who is traditionally considered the paragon of Chinese sages. Confucius's teachings and philosophy underpin East Asian culture and society
, remaining influential across
China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the world's most populous country, with a population exceeding 1.4 billion, slightly ahead of India. China spans the equivalent of five time zones ...
East Asia is the eastern region of Asia, which is defined in both geographical and ethno-cultural terms. The modern states of East Asia include China, Japan, Mongolia, North Korea, South Korea, and Taiwan. China, North Korea, South Korea and ...
to this day.
Confucius considered himself a transmitter for the values of earlier periods which he claimed had been abandoned in his time. His philosophical teachings, called
Confucianism, also known as Ruism or Ru classicism, 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 a ...
, emphasized personal and governmental morality, correctness of social relationships, justice, kindness, and sincerity. His followers competed with many other schools during the
Hundred Schools of Thought
The Hundred Schools of Thought () were philosophies and schools that flourished from the 6th century BC to 221 BC during the Spring and Autumn period and the Warring States period of ancient China.
An era of substantial discrimination in Chin ...
era, only to be suppressed
in favor of the Legalists
The Qin dynasty ( ; zh, c=秦朝, p=Qín cháo, w=), or Ch'in dynasty in Wade–Giles romanization ( zh, c=, p=, w=Ch'in ch'ao), was the first dynasty of Imperial China. Named for its heartland in Qin state (modern Gansu and Shaanxi), ...
. After the collapse of Qin and the victory of Han
, Confucius's thoughts received official sanction in the new government. During the Tang
A song is a musical composition intended to be performed by the human voice. This is often done at distinct and fixed pitches (melodies) using patterns of sound and silence. Songs contain various forms, such as those including the repetiti ...
dynasties, Confucianism developed into a system known in the West as
Neo-Confucianism (, often shortened to ''lǐxué'' 理學, literally "School of Principle") is a moral, ethical, and metaphysical Chinese philosophy influenced by Confucianism, and originated with Han Yu (768–824) and Li Ao (772–841 ...
, and later as New Confucianism
. Confucianism was part of the Chinese social fabric and way of life; to Confucians, everyday life was the arena of religion.
Confucius is traditionally credited with having authored or edited many of the
Chinese classic texts
Chinese classic texts or canonical texts () or simply dianji (典籍) refers to the Chinese texts which originated before the imperial unification by the Qin dynasty in 221 BC, particularly the "Four Books and Five Classics" of the Neo-Confucian ...
, including all of the
The Four Books and Five Classics () are the authoritative books of Confucianism, written in China before 300 BCE. The Four Books and the Five Classics are the most important classics of Chinese Confucianism.
The Four Books () are ...
, but modern scholars are cautious of attributing specific assertions to Confucius himself.
An aphorism (from Greek ἀφορισμός: ''aphorismos'', denoting 'delimitation', 'distinction', and 'definition') is a concise, terse, laconic, or memorable expression of a general truth or principle. Aphorisms are often handed down by ...
s concerning his teachings were compiled in the ''
The ''Analects'' (; ; Old Chinese: '' ŋ(r)aʔ''; meaning "Selected Sayings"), also known as the ''Analects of Confucius'', the ''Sayings of Confucius'', or the ''Lun Yu'', is an ancient Chinese book composed of a large collection of sayings a ...
'', but only many years after his death.
Confucius's principles have commonality with Chinese tradition and belief. With
In Confucianism, Chinese Buddhism, and Daoist ethics, filial piety (, ''xiào'') (Latin: pietas) is a virtue of respect for one's parents, elders, and ancestors. The Confucian '' Classic of Filial Piety'', thought to be written around the late ...
, he championed strong family loyalty,
The veneration of the dead, including one's ancestors, is based on love and respect for the deceased. In some cultures, it is related to beliefs that the dead have a continued existence, and may possess the ability to influence the fortune o ...
, and respect of elders by their children and of husbands by their wives, recommending family as a basis for ideal government. He espoused the Golden Rule
, "Do not do unto others what you do not want done to yourself".
The name "Confucius" is a Latinized
form of the
Mandarin (; ) is a group of Chinese (Sinitic) dialects that are natively spoken across most of northern and southwestern China. The group includes the Beijing dialect, the basis of the phonology of Standard Chinese, the official languag ...
(, "Master Kong"), and was coined in the late 16th century by the early Jesuit missionaries to China
. Confucius's clan name
was Kong () and his given name was Qiu (). His "
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 East Asian cultural sphere, including China, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam.Ulrich Theobal ...
", a capping (''guan'': ) given at his coming of age ceremony
, and by which he would have been known to all but his older family members, was Zhongni (), the "Zhòng" indicating that he was the second son in his family.
It is thought that Confucius was born on September 28, 551 BCE,
in Zou (, in modern
Shandong ( , ; ; alternately romanized as Shantung) is a coastal province of the People's Republic of China and is part of the East China region.
Shandong has played a major role in Chinese history since the beginning of Chinese civiliza ...
province). The area was notionally controlled by the
Kings or King's may refer to:
* Monarchs: The sovereign heads of states and/or nations, with the male being kings
*One of several works known as the "Book of Kings":
**The Books of Kings
The Book of Kings (, '' Sēfer Məlāḵīm'') is a bo ...
but effectively independent under the local lords of Lu
, who ruled from the nearby city of Qufu. His father Kong He
(or Shuliang He) was an elderly commandant of the local Lu garrison. His ancestry
traced back through the dukes of Song
The Shang dynasty (), also known as the Yin dynasty (), was a Chinese royal dynasty founded by Tang of Shang (Cheng Tang) that ruled in the Yellow River valley in the second millennium BC, traditionally succeeding the Xia dynasty and ...
which had preceded the Zhou. Traditional accounts of Confucius's life relate that Kong He's grandfather had migrated the family from Song to Lu.
Kong He died when Confucius was three years old, and Confucius was raised by his mother Yan Zhengzai
() in poverty.
His mother later died at less than 40 years of age.
[ At age 19 he married Lady Qiguan (), and a year later the couple had their first child, their son Kong Li ().] [ Qiguan and Confucius later had two daughters together, one of whom is thought to have died as a child and one was named Kong Jiao ().
Confucius was educated at schools for commoners, where he studied and learned the Six Arts.
Confucius was born into the class of '' shi'' (), between the aristocracy and the common people. He is said to have worked in various government jobs during his early 20s, and as a bookkeeper and a caretaker of sheep and horses, using the proceeds to give his mother a proper burial.] [ When his mother died, Confucius (aged 23) is said to have mourned for three years, as was the tradition.]
In Confucius's time, the state of Lu was headed by a ruling ducal house. Under the duke were three aristocratic families, whose heads bore the title of viscount and held hereditary positions in the Lu bureaucracy. The Ji family held the position "Minister over the Masses", who was also the "Prime Minister"; the Meng family held the position "Minister of Works"; and the Shu family held the position "Minister of War". In the winter of , Yang Hu—a retainer of the Ji family—rose up in rebellion and seized power from the Ji family. However, by the summer of , the three hereditary families had succeeded in expelling Yang Hu from Lu. By then, Confucius had built up a considerable reputation through his teachings, while the families came to see the value of proper conduct and righteousness, so they could achieve loyalty to a legitimate government. Thus, that year (), Confucius came to be appointed to the minor position of governor of a town. Eventually, he rose to the position of Minister of Crime.
Confucius desired to return the authority of the state to the duke by dismantling the fortifications of the city—strongholds belonging to the three families. This way, he could establish a centralized government. However, Confucius relied solely on diplomacy as he had no military authority himself. In , Hou Fan—the governor of Hou—revolted against his lord of the Shu family. Although the Meng and Shu families unsuccessfully besieged Hou, a loyalist official rose up with the people of Hou and forced Hou Fan to flee to the Qi state. The situation may have been in favor for Confucius as this likely made it possible for Confucius and his disciples to convince the aristocratic families to dismantle the fortifications of their cities. Eventually, after a year and a half, Confucius and his disciples succeeded in convincing the Shu family to raze the walls of Hou, the Ji family in razing the walls of Bi, and the Meng family in razing the walls of Cheng. First, the Shu family led an army towards their city Hou and tore down its walls in .
Soon thereafter, Gongshan Furao (also known as Gongshan Buniu), a retainer of the Ji family, revolted and took control of the forces at Bi. He immediately launched an attack and entered the capital Lu. Earlier, Gongshan had approached Confucius to join him, which Confucius considered as he wanted the opportunity to put his principles into practice but he gave up on the idea in the end. Confucius disapproved the use of a violent revolution by principle, even though the Ji family dominated the Lu state by force for generations and had exiled the previous duke. Creel (1949) states that, unlike the rebel Yang Hu before him, Gongshan may have sought to destroy the three hereditary families and restore the power of the duke. However, Dubs (1946) is of the view that Gongshan was encouraged by Viscount Ji Huan to invade the Lu capital in an attempt to avoid dismantling the Bi fortified walls. Whatever the situation may have been, Gongshan was considered an upright man who continued to defend the state of Lu, even after he was forced to flee.
During the revolt by Gongshan, Zhong You had managed to keep the duke and the three viscounts together at the court. Zhong You was one of the disciples of Confucius and Confucius had arranged for him to be given the position of governor by the Ji family. When Confucius heard of the raid, he requested that Viscount Ji Huan allow the duke and his court to retreat to a stronghold on his palace grounds. Thereafter, the heads of the three families and the duke retreated to the Ji's palace complex and ascended the Wuzi Terrace.
[.] Confucius ordered two officers to lead an assault against the rebels. At least one of the two officers was a retainer of the Ji family, but they were unable to refuse the orders while in the presence of the duke, viscounts, and court. The rebels were pursued and defeated at Gu. Immediately after the revolt was defeated, the Ji family razed the Bi city walls to the ground.
The attackers retreated after realizing that they would have to become rebels against the state and their lord. Through Confucius' actions, the Bi officials had inadvertently revolted against their own lord, thus forcing Viscount Ji Huan's hand in having to dismantle the walls of Bi (as it could have harbored such rebels) or confess to instigating the event by going against proper conduct and righteousness as an official. Dubs (1949) suggests that the incident brought to light Confucius' foresight, practical political ability, and insight into human character.
When it was time to dismantle the city walls of the Meng family, the governor was reluctant to have his city walls torn down and convinced the head of the Meng family not to do so. The '' Zuozhuan'' recalls that the governor advised against razing the walls to the ground as he said that it made Cheng vulnerable to the Qi state and cause the destruction of the Meng family. Even though Viscount Meng Yi gave his word not to interfere with an attempt, he went back on his earlier promise to dismantle the walls.
Later in , Duke Ding personally went with an army to lay siege to Cheng in an attempt to raze its walls to the ground, but he did not succeed. Thus, Confucius could not achieve the idealistic reforms that he wanted including restoration of the legitimate rule of the duke. He had made powerful enemies within the state, especially with Viscount Ji Huan, due to his successes so far. [.] According to accounts in the '' Zuozhuan'' and '' Shiji
''Records of the Grand Historian'', also known by its Chinese name ''Shiji'', is a monumental history of China that is the first of China's 24 dynastic histories. The ''Records'' was written in the early 1st century by the ancient Chinese hi ...'', Confucius departed his homeland in after his support for the failed attempt of dismantling the fortified city walls of the powerful Ji, Meng, and Shu families. He left the state of Lu without resigning, remaining in self-exile and unable to return as long as Viscount Ji Huan was alive.
''Records of the Grand Historian'', also known by its Chinese name ''Shiji'', is a monumental history of China that is the first of China's 24 dynastic histories. The ''Records'' was written in the early 1st century by the ancient Chinese hi ...'' stated that the neighboring Qi state was worried that Lu was becoming too powerful while Confucius was involved in the government of the Lu state. According to this account, Qi decided to sabotage Lu's reforms by sending 100 good horses and 80 beautiful dancing girls to the duke of Lu. The duke indulged himself in pleasure and did not attend to official duties for three days. Confucius was disappointed and resolved to leave Lu and seek better opportunities, yet to leave at once would expose the misbehavior of the duke and therefore bring public humiliation to the ruler Confucius was serving. Confucius therefore waited for the duke to make a lesser mistake. Soon after, the duke neglected to send to Confucius a portion of the sacrificial meat that was his due according to custom, and Confucius seized upon this pretext to leave both his post and the Lu state.
After Confucius's resignation, he began a long journey or set of journeys around the principality states of north-east and central China including Wey, Song
A song is a musical composition intended to be performed by the human voice. This is often done at distinct and fixed pitches (melodies) using patterns of sound and silence. Songs contain various forms, such as those including the repetiti ..., Zheng, Cao, Chu, Qi, Chen, and Cai (and a failed attempt to go to Jin). At the courts of these states, he expounded his political beliefs but did not see them implemented.
According to the '' Zuozhuan'', Confucius returned home to his native Lu when he was 68, after he was invited to do so by Ji Kangzi, the chief minister of Lu.
The ''Analects'' depict him spending his last years teaching 72 or 77 disciples and transmitting the old wisdom via a set of texts called the Five Classics
The Four Books and Five Classics () are the authoritative books of Confucianism, written in China before 300 BCE. The Four Books and the Five Classics are the most important classics of Chinese Confucianism.
The Four Books () are ....
During his return, Confucius sometimes acted as an advisor to several government officials in Lu, including Ji Kangzi, on matters including governance and crime. [
Burdened by the loss of both his son and his favorite disciples, he died at the age of 71 or 72 from natural causes. Confucius was buried in Kong Lin cemetery which lies in the historical part of ] Qufu
Qufu ( ; ) is a city in southwestern Shandong province, East China. It is located about south of the provincial capital Jinan and northeast of the prefectural seat at Jining. Qufu has an area of 815 square kilometers, and a total population of ... in the Shandong Province. The original tomb erected there in memory of Confucius on the bank of the Sishui River had the shape of an axe. In addition, it has a raised brick platform at the front of the memorial for offerings such as sandalwood
Sandalwood is a class of woods from trees in the genus '' Santalum''. The woods are heavy, yellow, and fine-grained, and, unlike many other aromatic woods, they retain their fragrance for decades. Sandalwood oil is extracted from the woods for ... incense and fruit.
Although Confucianism is often followed in a religious manner by the Chinese, many argue that its values are secular and that it is, therefore, less a religion than a secular morality. Proponents argue, however, that despite the secular nature of Confucianism's teachings, it is based on a worldview that is religious. Confucianism discusses elements of the
The afterlife (also referred to as life after death) is a purported existence in which the essential part of an individual's identity or their stream of consciousness continues to live after the death of their physical body. The surviving e ... and views concerning Heaven
Heaven or the heavens, is a common religious cosmological or transcendent supernatural place where beings such as deities, angels, souls, saints, or venerated ancestors are said to originate, be enthroned, or reside. According to the beli ..., but it is relatively unconcerned with some spiritual matters often considered essential to religious thought, such as the nature of souls.
In the '' Analects
The ''Analects'' (; ; Old Chinese: '' ŋ(r)aʔ''; meaning "Selected Sayings"), also known as the ''Analects of Confucius'', the ''Sayings of Confucius'', or the ''Lun Yu'', is an ancient Chinese book composed of a large collection of sayings a ...'', Confucius presents himself as a "transmitter who invented nothing". He puts the greatest emphasis on the importance of study, and it is the Chinese character
Chinese characters () are logograms developed for the writing of Chinese. In addition, they have been adapted to write other East Asian languages, and remain a key component of the Japanese writing system where they are known as ''kanji ... for study () that opens the text. Far from trying to build a systematic or formalist theory, he wanted his disciples to master and internalize older classics, so that their deep thought and thorough study would allow them to relate the moral problems of the present to past political events (as recorded in the ''Annals'') or the past expressions of commoners' feelings and noblemen's reflections (as in the poems of the '' Book of Odes'').
One of the deepest teachings of Confucius may have been the superiority of personal exemplification over explicit rules of behavior. His moral teachings emphasized self-cultivation, emulation of moral exemplars, and the attainment of skilled judgment rather than knowledge of rules. Confucian ethics may, therefore, be considered a type of
Virtue ethics (also aretaic ethics, from Greek ἀρετή arete_(moral_virtue).html"_;"title="'arete_(moral_virtue)">aretḗ''_is_an_approach_to_ethics_that_treats_the_concept_of_virtue.html" ;"title="arete_(moral_virtue)">aretḗ''.html" ; .... His teachings rarely rely on reasoned argument, and ethical ideals and methods are conveyed indirectly, through allusion
Allusion is a figure of speech, in which an object or circumstance from unrelated context is referred to covertly or indirectly. It is left to the audience to make the direct connection. Where the connection is directly and explicitly stated (as ..., innuendo
An innuendo is a hint, insinuation or intimation about a person or thing, especially of a denigrating or derogatory nature. It can also be a remark or question, typically disparaging (also called insinuation), that works obliquely by allusi ..., and even tautology. His teachings require examination and context to be understood. A good example is found in this famous anecdote:
By not asking about the horses, Confucius demonstrates that the sage values human beings over property (which animals seem to represent in this example); readers are led to reflect on whether their response would follow Confucius's and to pursue self-improvement if it would not have.
One of his teachings was a variant of the Golden Rule, sometimes called the " Silver Rule" owing to its negative form:
Often overlooked in Confucian ethics are the virtues to the self: sincerity and the cultivation of knowledge. Virtuous action towards others begins with virtuous and sincere thought, which begins with knowledge. A virtuous disposition without knowledge is susceptible to corruption, and virtuous action without sincerity is not true righteousness. Cultivating knowledge and sincerity is also important for one's own sake; the superior person loves learning for the sake of learning and righteousness for the sake of righteousness.
The Confucian theory of ethics as exemplified in '' lǐ'' () is based on three important conceptual aspects of life: (a) ceremonies associated with sacrifice to ancestors and deities of various types, (b) social and political institutions, and (c) the etiquette of daily behavior. Some believed that ''lǐ'' originated from the heavens, but Confucius stressed the development of ''lǐ'' through the actions of sage leaders in human history. His discussions of ''lǐ'' seem to redefine the term to refer to all actions committed by a person to build the ideal society, rather than those conforming with canonical standards of ceremony.
In the early Confucian tradition, ''lǐ'' was doing the proper thing at the proper time; balancing between maintaining existing norms to perpetuate an ethical social fabric, and violating them in order to accomplish ethical good. Training in the ''lǐ'' of past sages, cultivates virtues in people that include ethical judgment about when ''lǐ'' must be adapted in light of situational contexts.
In Confucianism, the concept of ''li'' is closely related to ''yì'' (), which is based upon the idea of reciprocity. ''Yì'' can be translated as righteousness
Righteousness is the quality or state of being morally correct and justifiable. It can be considered synonymous with "rightness" or being "upright". It can be found in Indian religions and Abrahamic traditions, among other religions, as a theolog ..., though it may mean what is ethically best to do in a certain context. The term contrasts with action done out of self-interest
Self-interest generally refers to a focus on the needs or desires (''interests'') of one's self. Most times, actions that display self-interest are often performed without conscious knowing. A number of philosophical, psychological, and economi .... While pursuing one's own self-interest is not necessarily bad, one would be a better, more righteous person if one's life was based upon following a path designed to enhance the greater good. Thus an outcome of ''yì'' is doing the right thing for the right reason.
Just as action according to '' lǐ'' should be adapted to conform to the aspiration of adhering to ''yì'', so ''yì'' is linked to the core value of ''rén'' ().'' Rén'' consists of five basic virtues: seriousness, generosity, sincerity, diligence, and kindness. [.] ''Rén'' is the virtue of perfectly fulfilling one's responsibilities toward others, most often translated as "benevolence" or "humaneness"; translator Arthur Waley
Arthur David Waley (born Arthur David Schloss, 19 August 188927 June 1966) was an English orientalist and sinologist who achieved both popular and scholarly acclaim for his translations of Chinese and Japanese poetry. Among his honours were t ... calls it "Goodness" (with a capital ''G''), and other translations that have been put forth include "authoritativeness" and "selflessness". Confucius's moral system was based upon empathy
Empathy is the capacity to understand or feel what another person is experiencing from within their frame of reference, that is, the capacity to place oneself in another's position. Definitions of empathy encompass a broad range of social, co ... and understanding others, rather than divinely ordained rules. To develop one's spontaneous responses of ''rén'' so that these could guide action intuitively was even better than living by the rules of ''yì''. Confucius asserts that virtue is a mean between extremes. For example, the properly generous person gives the right amount – not too much and not too little.
Confucius's political thought is based upon his ethical thought. He argued that the best government is one that rules through "rites" (''lǐ'') and people's natural morality, and ''not'' by using bribery and coercion. He explained that this is one of the most important analects: "If the people be led by laws, and uniformity sought to be given them by punishments, they will try to avoid the punishment, but have no sense of shame. If they be led by virtue, and uniformity sought to be given them by the rules of propriety, they will have the sense of the shame, and moreover will become good." (''Analects'' 2.3, tr. Legge). This "sense of shame" is an internalisation of
A duty (from "due" meaning "that which is owing"; fro, deu, did, past participle of ''devoir''; la, debere, debitum, whence "debt") is a commitment or expectation to perform some action in general or if certain circumstances arise. A duty may ..., where the punishment precedes the evil action, instead of following it in the form of laws as in Legalism.
Confucius looked nostalgically upon earlier days, and urged the Chinese, particularly those with political power, to model themselves on earlier examples. In times of division, chaos, and endless wars between feudal states, he wanted to restore the Mandate of Heaven
The Mandate of Heaven () is a Chinese political philosophy that was used in ancient and imperial China to legitimize the rule of the King or Emperor of China. According to this doctrine, heaven (天, '' Tian'') – which embodies the nat ... () that could unify the "world" (, "all under Heaven") and bestow peace and prosperity on the people. Because his vision of personal and social perfections was framed as a revival of the ordered society of earlier times, Confucius is often considered a great proponent of conservatism
Conservatism is a cultural, social, and political philosophy that seeks to promote and to preserve traditional institutions, practices, and values. The central tenets of conservatism may vary in relation to the culture and civilizatio ..., but a closer look at what he proposes often shows that he used (and perhaps twisted) past institutions and rites to push a new political agenda of his own: a revival of a unified royal state, whose rulers would succeed to power on the basis of their moral merits instead of lineage. These would be rulers devoted to their people, striving for personal and social perfection
Perfection is a state, variously, of completeness, flawlessness, or supreme excellence.
The term is used to designate a range of diverse, if often kindred, concepts. These have historically been addressed in a number of discrete disciplines, ..., and such a ruler would spread his own virtues to the people instead of imposing proper behavior with laws and rules.
While Confucius supported the idea of government ruling by a virtuous king, his ideas contained a number of elements to limit the power of rulers. He argued for representing truth
Truth is the property of being in accord with fact or reality.Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionarytruth 2005 In everyday language, truth is typically ascribed to things that aim to represent reality or otherwise correspond to it, such as belie ... in language, and honesty
Honesty or truthfulness is a facet of moral character that connotes positive and virtuous attributes such as integrity, truthfulness, straightforwardness, including straightforwardness of conduct, along with the absence of lying, cheating, t ... was of paramount importance. Even in facial expression
A facial expression is one or more motions or positions of the muscles beneath the skin of the face. According to one set of controversial theories, these movements convey the emotional state of an individual to observers. Facial expressions are ..., truth must always be represented. Confucius believed that if a ruler is to lead correctly, by action, that orders would be unnecessary in that others will follow the proper actions of their ruler. In discussing the relationship between a king and his subject (or a father and his son), he underlined the need to give due respect to superiors. This demanded that the subordinates must advise their superiors if the superiors are considered to be taking a course of action that is wrong. Confucius believed in ruling by example, if you lead correctly, orders by force or punishment are not necessary.
Music and poetry
Confucius heavily promoted the use of music with rituals or the rites order. The scholar Li Zehou argued that Confucianism is based on the idea of rites. Rites serve as the starting point for each individual and that these sacred social functions allow each person's human nature to be harmonious with reality. Given this, Confucius believed that "music is the harmonization of heaven and earth; the rites is the order of heaven and earth". Thus the application of music in rites creates the order that makes it possible for society to prosper.
The Confucian approach to music was heavily inspired by the Shijing
The ''Classic of Poetry'', also ''Shijing'' or ''Shih-ching'', translated variously as the ''Book of Songs'', ''Book of Odes'', or simply known as the ''Odes'' or ''Poetry'' (; ''Shī''), is the oldest existing collection of Chinese poetry, c ... and the Classic of Music, which was said to be the sixth Confucian classic until it was lost during the Han Dynasty
The Han dynasty (, ; ) was an imperial dynasty of China (202 BC – 9 AD, 25–220 AD), established by Liu Bang (Emperor Gao) and ruled by the House of Liu. The dynasty was preceded by the short-lived Qin dynasty (221–207 BC) and a w .... The Shijing serves as one of the current Confucian classics and is a book on poetry that contains a diversified variety of poems as well as folk songs. Confucius is traditionally ascribed with compiling these classics within his school. In the Analects, Confucius described the importance of the art in the development of society:
Confucius's teachings were later turned into an elaborate set of rules and practices by his numerous disciples and followers, who organized his teachings into the Analects. Confucius's disciples and his only grandson,
Zisi (; c. 481–402 BCE), born Kong Ji (孔伋), was a Chinese philosopher and the grandson of Confucius.
Intellectual genealogy, teaching, criticism
Zisi was the son of Kong Li (孔鯉) ( Boyu (伯鱼)) and the only grandson of Confucius ..., continued his philosophical school after his death. These efforts spread Confucian ideals to students who then became officials in many of the royal courts in China, thereby giving Confucianism the first wide-scale test of its dogma
Dogma is a belief or set of beliefs that is accepted by the members of a group without being questioned or doubted. It may be in the form of an official system of principles or doctrines of a religion, such as Roman Catholicism, Judaism, Isla ....
Two of Confucius's most famous later followers emphasized radically different aspects of his teachings. In the centuries after his death, Mencius
Mencius ( ); born Mèng Kē (); or Mèngzǐ (; 372–289 BC) was a Chinese Confucian philosopher who has often been described as the "second Sage", that is, second to Confucius himself. He is part of Confucius' fourth generation of discipl ... () and Xun Zi
Xun Kuang (; BCE), better known as Xunzi (; ), was a Chinese philosopher of Confucianism who lived during the late Warring States period. After his predecessors Confucius and Mencius, Xunzi is often ranked as the third great Confucian philosop ... () both composed important teachings elaborating in different ways on the fundamental ideas associated with Confucius. Mencius
Mencius ( ); born Mèng Kē (); or Mèngzǐ (; 372–289 BC) was a Chinese Confucian philosopher who has often been described as the "second Sage", that is, second to Confucius himself. He is part of Confucius' fourth generation of discipl ... () articulated the innate goodness in human beings as a source of the ethical intuitions that guide people towards ''rén'', ''yì'', and ''lǐ'', while Xun Zi
Xun Kuang (; BCE), better known as Xunzi (; ), was a Chinese philosopher of Confucianism who lived during the late Warring States period. After his predecessors Confucius and Mencius, Xunzi is often ranked as the third great Confucian philosop ... () underscored the realistic and materialistic aspects of Confucian thought, stressing that morality was inculcated in society through tradition and in individuals through training. In time, their writings, together with the ''Analects'' and other core texts came to constitute the philosophical corpus of Confucianism.
This realignment in Confucian thought was parallel to the development of Legalism, which saw filial piety as self-interest and not a useful tool for a ruler to create an effective state. A disagreement between these two political philosophies came to a head in when the Qin state conquered all of China. Li Si
Li Si (Mandarin: ; BCSeptember or October 208 BC) was a Chinese philosopher, politician, and calligrapher of the Qin dynasty. He served as Chancellor (or Prime Minister) from 246 to 208 BC under two rulers: Qin Shi Huang, the king of the ..., Prime Minister of the Qin dynasty
The Qin dynasty ( ; zh, c=秦朝, p=Qín cháo, w=), or Ch'in dynasty in Wade–Giles romanization ( zh, c=, p=, w=Ch'in ch'ao), was the first dynasty of Imperial China. Named for its heartland in Qin state (modern Gansu and Shaanxi), ..., convinced Qin Shi Huang
Qin Shi Huang (, ; 259–210 BC) was the founder of the Qin dynasty and the first emperor of a unified China. Rather than maintain the title of " king" ( ''wáng'') borne by the previous Shang and Zhou rulers, he ruled as the First Empero ... to abandon the Confucians' recommendation of awarding fiefs akin to the Zhou Dynasty
The Zhou dynasty ( ; Old Chinese ( B&S): *''tiw'') was a royal dynasty of China that followed the Shang dynasty. Having lasted 789 years, the Zhou dynasty was the longest dynastic regime in Chinese history. The military control of China by ... before them which he saw as being against to the Legalist idea of centralizing the state around the ruler. When the Confucian advisers pressed their point, Li Si had many Confucian scholars killed and their books burned—considered a huge blow to the philosophy and Chinese scholarship.
Under the succeeding Han and Tang dynasties, Confucian ideas gained even more widespread prominence. Under Wudi, the works of Confucius were made the official imperial philosophy and required reading for civil service examinations in which was continued nearly unbroken until the end of the 19th century. As Mohism
Mohism or Moism (, ) was an ancient Chinese philosophy of ethics and logic, rational thought, and science developed by the academic scholars who studied under the ancient Chinese philosopher Mozi (c. 470 BC – c. 391 BC), embodied in an ep ... lost support by the time of the Han, the main philosophical contenders were Legalism, which Confucian thought somewhat absorbed, the teachings of Laozi
Laozi (), also known by numerous other names, was a semilegendary ancient Chinese Taoist philosopher. Laozi ( zh, ) is a Chinese honorific, generally translated as "the Old Master". Traditional accounts say he was born as in the state ..., whose focus on more spiritual ideas kept it from direct conflict with Confucianism, and the new Buddhist
Buddhism ( , ), also known as Buddha Dharma and Dharmavinaya (), is an Indian religion or philosophical tradition based on teachings attributed to the Buddha. It originated in northern India as a -movement in the 5th century BCE, and ... religion, which gained acceptance during the Southern and Northern Dynasties era. Both Confucian ideas and Confucian-trained officials were relied upon in the Ming Dynasty
The Ming dynasty (), officially the Great Ming, was an imperial dynasty of China, ruling from 1368 to 1644 following the collapse of the Mongol-led Yuan dynasty. The Ming dynasty was the last orthodox dynasty of China ruled by the Han p ... and even the Yuan Dynasty
The Yuan dynasty (), officially the Great Yuan (; xng, , , literally "Great Yuan State"), was a Mongol-led imperial dynasty of China and a successor state to the Mongol Empire after its division. It was established by Kublai, the fi ..., although Kublai Khan
Kublai ; Mongolian script: ; (23 September 1215 – 18 February 1294), also known by his temple name as the Emperor Shizu of Yuan and his regnal name Setsen Khan, was the founder of the Yuan dynasty of China and the fifth khagan-emperor of ... distrusted handing over provincial control to them.
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. The Song conquered the res ..., the scholar Zhu Xi
Zhu Xi (; ; October 18, 1130 – April 23, 1200), formerly romanized Chu Hsi, was a Chinese calligrapher, historian, philosopher, poet, and politician during the Song dynasty. Zhu was influential in the development of Neo-Confucianism. He con ... () added ideas from Daoism
Taoism (, ) or Daoism () refers to either a school of philosophical thought (道家; ''daojia'') or to a religion (道教; ''daojiao''), both of which share ideas and concepts of Chinese origin and emphasize living in harmony with the '' Ta ... and Buddhism
Buddhism ( , ), also known as Buddha Dharma and Dharmavinaya (), is an Indian religion or philosophical tradition based on teachings attributed to the Buddha. It originated in northern India as a -movement in the 5th century BCE, and ... into Confucianism. In his life, Zhu Xi was largely ignored, but not long after his death, his ideas became the new orthodox view of what Confucian texts actually meant. Modern historians view Zhu Xi as having created something rather different and call his way of thinking '' Neo-Confucianism
Neo-Confucianism (, often shortened to ''lǐxué'' 理學, literally "School of Principle") is a moral, ethical, and metaphysical Chinese philosophy influenced by Confucianism, and originated with Han Yu (768–824) and Li Ao (772–841 ...''. Neo-Confucianism held sway in China, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam until the 19th century.
The works of Confucius were first translated into European languages by Jesuit missionaries
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, founders ... in the 16th century during the late Ming dynasty
The Ming dynasty (), officially the Great Ming, was an imperial dynasty of China, ruling from 1368 to 1644 following the collapse of the Mongol-led Yuan dynasty. The Ming dynasty was the last orthodox dynasty of China ruled by the Han p .... The first known effort was by Michele Ruggieri, who returned to Italy in 1588 and carried on his translations while residing in Salerno
Salerno (, , ; nap, label= Salernitano, Saliernë, ) is an ancient city and ''comune'' in Campania (southwestern Italy) and is the capital of the namesake province, being the second largest city in the region by number of inhabitants, after .... Matteo Ricci
Matteo Ricci, SJ (; la, Mattheus Riccius; 6 October 1552 – 11 May 1610), was an Italian Jesuit priest and one of the founding figures of the Jesuit China missions. He created the , a 1602 map of the world written in Chinese characters ... started to report on the thoughts of Confucius, and a team of Jesuits— Prospero Intorcetta, Philippe Couplet, and two others—published a translation of several Confucian works and an overview of 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 reign of king Wu Ding. Ancient historical texts such as the ''Book of Documents'' (early chapte ... in Paris in 1687. [.] François Noël, after failing to persuade ClementXI that Chinese veneration of ancestors and Confucius
Confucius ( ; zh, s=, p=Kǒng Fūzǐ, "Master Kǒng"; or commonly zh, s=, p=Kǒngzǐ, labels=no; – ) was a Chinese philosopher and politician of the Spring and Autumn period who is traditionally considered the paragon of Chinese sages. Co ... did not constitute idolatry, completed the Confucian canon at Prague
Prague ( ; cs, Praha ; german: Prag, ; la, Praga) is the capital and largest city in the Czech Republic, and the historical capital of Bohemia. On the Vltava river, Prague is home to about 1.3 million people. The city has a temperat ... in 1711, with more scholarly treatments of the other works and the first translation of the collected works of Mencius
Mencius ( ); born Mèng Kē (); or Mèngzǐ (; 372–289 BC) was a Chinese Confucian philosopher who has often been described as the "second Sage", that is, second to Confucius himself. He is part of Confucius' fourth generation of discipl .... It is thought that such works had considerable importance on European thinkers of the period, particularly among the Deists and other philosophical groups of the Enlightenment who were interested by the integration of the system of morality of Confucius into Western civilization.
In the modern era Confucian movements, such as New Confucianism, still exist, but during the Cultural Revolution
The Cultural Revolution, formally known as the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, was a sociopolitical movement in the People's Republic of China (PRC) launched by Mao Zedong in 1966, and lasting until his death in 1976. Its stated goa ..., Confucianism was frequently attacked by leading figures in the Chinese Communist Party
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP), officially the Communist Party of China (CPC), is the founding and sole ruling party of the People's Republic of China (PRC). Under the leadership of Mao Zedong, the CCP emerged victorious in the Chinese Civi .... This was partially a continuation of the condemnations of Confucianism by intellectuals and activists in the early 20th century as a cause of the ethnocentric close-mindedness and refusal of the Qing Dynasty
The Qing dynasty ( ), officially the Great Qing,, was a Manchu-led imperial dynasty of China and the last orthodox dynasty in Chinese history. It emerged from the Later Jin dynasty founded by the Jianzhou Jurchens, a Tungusic-speak ... to modernize that led to the tragedies that befell China in the 19th century.
Confucius's works are studied by scholars in many other Asian countries, particularly those in the Chinese cultural sphere, such as Korea, Japan, and Vietnam. Many of those countries still hold the traditional memorial ceremony every year.
The Tibetan people (; ) are an East Asian ethnic group native to Tibet. Their current population is estimated to be around 6.7 million. In addition to the majority living in Tibet Autonomous Region of China, significant numbers of Tibetans liv ..., Confucius is often worshipped as a holy king and master of magic, divination and astrology. Tibetan Buddhists
Tibetan Buddhism (also referred to as Indo-Tibetan Buddhism, Lamaism, Lamaistic Buddhism, Himalayan Buddhism, and Northern Buddhism) is the form of Buddhism practiced in Tibet and Bhutan, where it is the dominant religion. It is also in majo ... see him as learning divination from the Buddha Manjushri
Mañjuśrī (Sanskrit: मञ्जुश्री) is a ''bodhisattva'' associated with '' prajñā'' (wisdom) in Mahāyāna Buddhism. His name means "Gentle Glory" in Sanskrit. Mañjuśrī is also known by the fuller name of Mañjuśrīkumāra ... (and that knowledge subsequently reaching Tibet through Princess Wencheng
Princess Wencheng (; ) was a member of a minor branch of the royal clan of the Tang Dynasty who married King Songtsen Gampo of the Tibetan Empire in 641. She is also known by the name Gyasa or "Chinese wife" in Tibet. Some Tibetan historians cons ...), while Bon practitioners see him as being a reincarnation of Tonpa Shenrab Miwoche, the legendary founder of Bon.
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community believes Confucius was a Divine Prophet of God, as were Lao-Tzu and other eminent Chinese personages.
In modern times, Asteroid 7853, "Confucius", was named after the Chinese thinker.
Confucius began teaching after he turned 30, and taught more than 3,000 students in his life, about 70 of whom were considered outstanding. His disciples and the early Confucian community they formed became the most influential intellectual force 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 .... The Han dynasty
The Han dynasty (, ; ) was an imperial dynasty of China (202 BC – 9 AD, 25–220 AD), established by Liu Bang (Emperor Gao) and ruled by the House of Liu. The dynasty was preceded by the short-lived Qin dynasty (221–207 BC) and a w ... historian Sima Qian
Sima Qian (; ; ) was a Chinese historian of the early Han dynasty (206AD220). He is considered the father of Chinese historiography for his ''Records of the Grand Historian'', a general history of China covering more than two thousand years b ... dedicated a chapter in his '' Records of the Grand Historian
''Records of the Grand Historian'', also known by its Chinese name ''Shiji'', is a monumental history of China that is the first of China's 24 dynastic histories. The ''Records'' was written in the early 1st century by the ancient Chinese hi ...'' to the biographies of Confucius's disciples, accounting for the influence they exerted in their time and afterward. Sima Qian recorded the names of 77 disciples in his collective biography, while '' Kongzi Jiayu
The ''Kongzi Jiayu'' (), translated as ''The School Sayings of Confucius'' or ''Family Sayings of Confucius'', is a collection of sayings of Confucius (Kongzi), written as a supplement to the '' Analects'' (''Lunyu'').
A book by the title had ex ...'', another early source, records 76, not completely overlapping. The two sources together yield the names of 96 disciples. Twenty-two of them are mentioned in the '' Analects
The ''Analects'' (; ; Old Chinese: '' ŋ(r)aʔ''; meaning "Selected Sayings"), also known as the ''Analects of Confucius'', the ''Sayings of Confucius'', or the ''Lun Yu'', is an ancient Chinese book composed of a large collection of sayings a ...'', while the '' Mencius
Mencius ( ); born Mèng Kē (); or Mèngzǐ (; 372–289 BC) was a Chinese Confucian philosopher who has often been described as the "second Sage", that is, second to Confucius himself. He is part of Confucius' fourth generation of discipl ...'' records 24.
Confucius did not charge any tuition, and only requested a symbolic gift of a bundle of dried meat from any prospective student. According to his disciple Zigong
Zigong (, ), formed by the merger of the two former towns of Ziliujing (Tzuliuching, literally "self-flow well") and Gongjing (Kungching, literally "offering well"), is a prefecture-level city in Sichuan, southwestern China.
Accor ..., his master treated students like doctors treated patients and did not turn anybody away. Most of them came from Lu, Confucius's home state, with 43 recorded, but he accepted students from all over China, with six from the state of Wey (such as Zigong), three from Qin, two each from Chen and Qi, and one each from Cai, Chu, and Song
A song is a musical composition intended to be performed by the human voice. This is often done at distinct and fixed pitches (melodies) using patterns of sound and silence. Songs contain various forms, such as those including the repetiti .... Confucius considered his students' personal background irrelevant, and accepted noblemen, commoners, and even former criminals such as Yan Zhuoju and Gongye Chang. His disciples from richer families would pay a sum commensurate with their wealth which was considered a ritual donation.
Confucius's favorite disciple was Yan Hui
Yan Hui (–481 BC) was a Chinese philosopher. He was the favorite disciple of Confucius and one of the most revered figures of Confucianism. He is venerated in Confucian temples as one of the Four Sages.
Yan Hui is also known by his co ..., most probably one of the most impoverished of them all. Sima Niu, in contrast to Yan Hui, was from a hereditary noble family hailing from the Song state. Under Confucius's teachings, the disciples became well learned in the principles and methods of government. He often engaged in discussion and debate with his students and gave high importance to their studies in history, poetry, and ritual. Confucius advocated loyalty to principle rather than to individual acumen, in which reform was to be achieved by persuasion rather than violence. Even though Confucius denounced them for their practices, the aristocracy was likely attracted to the idea of having trustworthy officials who were studied in morals as the circumstances of the time made it desirable. In fact, the disciple Zilu
Zhong You (542–480BC), commonly known by his courtesy names Zilu and Jilu, was one of the best known and most faithful disciples of Confucius. Among Confucius's disciples, he was the second in terms of ability and accomplishment in statesman ... even died defending his ruler in Wey.
Yang Hu, who was a subordinate of the Ji family, had dominated the Lu government from 505 to 502 and even attempted a coup, which narrowly failed. As a likely consequence, it was after this that the first disciples of Confucius were appointed to government positions. A few of Confucius's disciples went on to attain official positions of some importance, some of which were arranged by Confucius. By the time Confucius was 50 years old, the Ji family had consolidated their power in the Lu state over the ruling ducal house. Even though the Ji family had practices with which Confucius disagreed and disapproved, they nonetheless gave Confucius's disciples many opportunities for employment. Confucius continued to remind his disciples to stay true to their principles and renounced those who did not, all the while being openly critical of the Ji family.
No contemporary painting or sculpture of Confucius survives, and it was only during the
The Han dynasty (, ; ) was an imperial dynasty of China (202 BC – 9 AD, 25–220 AD), established by Liu Bang (Emperor Gao) and ruled by the House of Liu. The dynasty was preceded by the short-lived Qin dynasty (221–207 BC) and a w ... that he was portrayed visually. Carvings often depict his legendary meeting with Laozi
Laozi (), also known by numerous other names, was a semilegendary ancient Chinese Taoist philosopher. Laozi ( zh, ) is a Chinese honorific, generally translated as "the Old Master". Traditional accounts say he was born as in the state .... Since that time there have been many portraits of Confucius as the ideal philosopher. An early verbal portrayal of Confucius is found in the chapter "External Things" () of the book '' Zhuangzi'' (), finished in about 3rd BCE, long after Confucius's death. The oldest known portrait of Confucius has been unearthed in the tomb of the Han dynasty
The Han dynasty (, ; ) was an imperial dynasty of China (202 BC – 9 AD, 25–220 AD), established by Liu Bang (Emperor Gao) and ruled by the House of Liu. The dynasty was preceded by the short-lived Qin dynasty (221–207 BC) and a w ... ruler Marquis of Haihun
Liu He (; 92–59 BC) was an emperor of the Chinese Han dynasty with the era name Yuanping (). Originally King (or Prince) of Changyi (), he was installed by the powerful minister Huo Guang as emperor in 74 BC, but deposed only 27 days later, ... (died ). The picture was painted on the wooden frame to a polished bronze mirror.
In former times, it was customary to have a portrait in Confucius Temples; however, during the reign of Hongwu Emperor
The Hongwu Emperor (21 October 1328 – 24 June 1398), personal name Zhu Yuanzhang (), courtesy name Guorui (), was the founding emperor of the Ming dynasty of China, reigning from 1368 to 1398.
As famine, plagues and peasant revolts ... (Taizu) of the Ming dynasty
The Ming dynasty (), officially the Great Ming, was an imperial dynasty of China, ruling from 1368 to 1644 following the collapse of the Mongol-led Yuan dynasty. The Ming dynasty was the last orthodox dynasty of China ruled by the Han p ..., it was decided that the only proper portrait of Confucius should be in the temple
A temple (from the Latin ) is a building reserved for spiritual rituals and activities such as prayer and sacrifice. Religions which erect temples include Christianity (whose temples are typically called churches), Hinduism (whose temples ... in his home town, Qufu
Qufu ( ; ) is a city in southwestern Shandong province, East China. It is located about south of the provincial capital Jinan and northeast of the prefectural seat at Jining. Qufu has an area of 815 square kilometers, and a total population of ... in Shandong. In other temples, Confucius is represented by a memorial tablet. In 2006, the China Confucius Foundation commissioned a standard portrait of Confucius based on the Tang dynasty
The Tang dynasty (, ; zh, t= ), or Tang Empire, was an imperial dynasty of China that ruled from 618 to 907 AD, with an interregnum between 690 and 705. It was preceded by the Sui dynasty and followed by the Five Dynasties and Ten King ... portrait by Wu Daozi.
The South Wall Frieze
In architecture, the frieze is the wide central section part of an entablature and may be plain in the Ionic or Doric order, or decorated with bas-reliefs. Paterae are also usually used to decorate friezes. Even when neither columns no ... in the courtroom of the Supreme Court of the United States
The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) is the highest court in the federal judiciary of the United States. It has ultimate appellate jurisdiction over all U.S. federal court cases, and over state court cases that involve a point ... depicts Confucius as a teacher of harmony, learning, and virtue.
There have been two film adaptations of Confucius' life: the 1940 film ''Confucius'' starring Tang Huaiqiu, and the 2010 film ''Confucius'' starring
Chow Yun-fat (born 18 May 1955), previously known as Donald Chow, is a Hong Kong actor. He is perhaps best known for his collaborations with filmmaker John Woo in the five Hong Kong action heroic bloodshed films: '' A Better Tomorrow'', '' ....
Soon after Confucius's death,
Qufu ( ; ) is a city in southwestern Shandong province, East China. It is located about south of the provincial capital Jinan and northeast of the prefectural seat at Jining. Qufu has an area of 815 square kilometers, and a total population of ..., his home town, became a place of devotion and remembrance. The Han dynasty
The Han dynasty (, ; ) was an imperial dynasty of China (202 BC – 9 AD, 25–220 AD), established by Liu Bang (Emperor Gao) and ruled by the House of Liu. The dynasty was preceded by the short-lived Qin dynasty (221–207 BC) and a w ... '' Records of the Grand Historian
''Records of the Grand Historian'', also known by its Chinese name ''Shiji'', is a monumental history of China that is the first of China's 24 dynastic histories. The ''Records'' was written in the early 1st century by the ancient Chinese hi ...'' records that it had already become a place of pilgrimage for ministers. It is still a major destination for cultural tourism, and many people visit his grave and the surrounding temples. In Sinic cultures, there are many temples where representations of the Buddha
Siddhartha Gautama, most commonly referred to as the Buddha, was a wandering ascetic and religious teacher who lived in South Asia during the 6th or 5th century BCE and founded Buddhism.
According to Buddhist tradition, he was born in ..., Laozi
Laozi (), also known by numerous other names, was a semilegendary ancient Chinese Taoist philosopher. Laozi ( zh, ) is a Chinese honorific, generally translated as "the Old Master". Traditional accounts say he was born as in the state ..., and Confucius are found together. There are also many temples
A temple (from the Latin ) is a building reserved for spiritual rituals and activities such as prayer and sacrifice. Religions which erect temples include Christianity (whose temples are typically called churches), Hinduism (whose temples ... dedicated to him, which have been used for Confucian ceremonies.
Followers of Confucianism have a tradition of holding spectacular memorial ceremonies of Confucius () every year, using ceremonies that supposedly derived from Zhou Li () as recorded by Confucius, on the date of Confucius's birth. In the 20th century, this tradition was interrupted for several decades in mainland China, where the official stance of the Communist Party and the State was that Confucius and Confucianism represented reactionary feudalist beliefs which held that the subservience of the people to the aristocracy
Aristocracy (, ) is a form of government that places strength in the hands of a small, privileged ruling class, the aristocrats. The term derives from the el, αριστοκρατία (), meaning 'rule of the best'.
At the time of the wor ... is a part of the natural order. All such ceremonies and rites were therefore banned. Only after the 1990s did the ceremony resume. As it is now considered a veneration of Chinese history and tradition, even Communist Party members may be found in attendance.
In Taiwan, where the Nationalist Party ( Kuomintang
The Kuomintang (KMT), also referred to as the Guomindang (GMD), the Nationalist Party of China (NPC) or the Chinese Nationalist Party (CNP), is a major political party in the Republic of China, initially on the Chinese mainland and in Tai ...) strongly promoted Confucian beliefs in ethics and behavior, the tradition of the memorial ceremony of Confucius () is supported by the government and has continued without interruption. While not a national holiday, it does appear on all printed calendars, much as Father's Day
Father's Day is a holiday of honoring fatherhood and paternal bonds, as well as the influence of fathers in society. In Catholic countries of Europe, it has been celebrated on 19 March as Saint Joseph's Day since the Middle Ages. In the United ... or Christmas Day
Christmas is an annual festival commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ, observed primarily on December 25 as a religious and cultural celebration among billions of people around the world. A feast central to the Christian liturgical year, ... do in the Western world.
In South Korea
South Korea, officially the Republic of Korea (ROK), is a country in East Asia, constituting the southern part of the Korean Peninsula and sharing a land border with North Korea. Its western border is formed by the Yellow Sea, while its ..., a grand-scale memorial ceremony called Seokjeon Daeje is held twice a year on Confucius's birthday and the anniversary of his death, at Confucian academies across the country and Sungkyunkwan
Sungkyunkwan was the foremost educational institution in Korea during the late Goryeo and Joseon Dynasties. Today, it sits in its original location, at the south end of the Humanities and Social Sciences Campus of Sungkyunkwan University in Seoul ... in Seoul.
Confucius's descendants were repeatedly identified and honored by successive imperial governments with titles of nobility and official posts. They were honored with the rank of a
A marquess (; french: marquis ), es, marqués, pt, marquês. is a nobleman of high hereditary rank in various European peerages and in those of some of their former colonies. The German language equivalent is Markgraf (margrave). A woman w ... 35 times since Gaozu of the Han dynasty
The Han dynasty (, ; ) was an imperial dynasty of China (202 BC – 9 AD, 25–220 AD), established by Liu Bang (Emperor Gao) and ruled by the House of Liu. The dynasty was preceded by the short-lived Qin dynasty (221–207 BC) and a w ..., and they were promoted to the rank of duke
Duke is a male title either of a monarch ruling over a duchy, or of a member of royalty, or nobility. As rulers, dukes are ranked below emperors, kings, grand princes, grand dukes, and sovereign princes. As royalty or nobility, they ar ... 42 times from the Tang dynasty
The Tang dynasty (, ; zh, t= ), or Tang Empire, was an imperial dynasty of China that ruled from 618 to 907 AD, with an interregnum between 690 and 705. It was preceded by the Sui dynasty and followed by the Five Dynasties and Ten King ... to the Qing dynasty
The Qing dynasty ( ), officially the Great Qing,, was a Manchu-led imperial dynasty of China and the last orthodox dynasty in Chinese history. It emerged from the Later Jin dynasty founded by the Jianzhou Jurchens, a Tungusic-speak .... Emperor Xuanzong of Tang
Emperor Xuanzong of Tang (; 8 September 685 – 3 May 762), personal name Li Longji, was the seventh emperor of the Tang dynasty in China, reigning from 712 to 756 CE. His reign of 44 years was the longest during the Tang dynasty. In the early ... first bestowed the title of "Duke Wenxuan" on Kong Suizhi of the 35th generation. In 1055, Emperor Renzong of Song
Emperor Renzong of Song (30 May 1010 – 30 April 1063), personal name Zhao Zhen, was the fourth emperor of the Song dynasty of China. He reigned for about 41 years from 1022 to his death in 1063, and was the longest reigning Song dynasty empe ... first bestowed the title of " Duke Yansheng" on Kong Zongyuan of the 46th generation.
During the Southern 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. The Song conquered the res ..., the Duke Yansheng Kong Duanyou fled south with the Song Emperor to Quzhou
Quzhou is a prefecture-level city in western Zhejiang province, People's Republic of China. Sitting on the upper course of the Qiantang River, it borders Hangzhou to the north, Jinhua to the east, Lishui to the southeast, and the provinces ... in Zhejiang, while the newly established Jin dynasty (1115–1234)
The Jin dynasty (,
; ) or Jin State (; Jurchen: Anchun Gurun), officially known as the Great Jin (), was an imperial dynasty of China that existed between 1115 and 1234. Its name is sometimes written as Kin, Jurchen Jin, Jinn, or Chin
in ... in the north appointed Kong Duanyou's brother Kong Duancao who remained in Qufu as Duke Yansheng. From that time up until the Yuan dynasty
The Yuan dynasty (), officially the Great Yuan (; xng, , , literally "Great Yuan State"), was a Mongol-led imperial dynasty of China and a successor state to the Mongol Empire after its division. It was established by Kublai, the fi ..., there were two Duke Yanshengs, one in the north in Qufu and the other in the south at Quzhou. An invitation to come back to Qufu was extended to the southern Duke Yansheng Kong Zhu by the Yuan-dynasty Emperor Kublai Khan. The title was taken away from the southern branch after Kong Zhu rejected the invitation, so the northern branch of the family kept the title of Duke Yansheng. The southern branch remained in Quzhou where they live to this day. Confucius's descendants in Quzhou alone number 30,000. The Hanlin Academy
The Hanlin Academy was an academic and administrative institution of higher learning founded in the 8th century Tang China by Emperor Xuanzong in Chang'an.
Membership in the academy was confined to an elite group of scholars, who performed se ... rank of Wujing boshi 五經博士 was awarded to the southern branch at Quzhou by a Ming Emperor while the northern branch at Qufu held the title Duke Yansheng. The leader of the southern branch is 孔祥楷 Kong Xiangkai.
In 1351, during the reign of Emperor Toghon Temür of the Yuan dynasty
The Yuan dynasty (), officially the Great Yuan (; xng, , , literally "Great Yuan State"), was a Mongol-led imperial dynasty of China and a successor state to the Mongol Empire after its division. It was established by Kublai, the fi ..., 53rd-generation descendant Kong Huan ()'s second son Kong Shao () moved from China to Korea during the Goryeo Dynasty
Goryeo (; ) was a Korean kingdom founded in 918, during a time of national division called the Later Three Kingdoms period, that unified and ruled the Korean Peninsula until 1392. Goryeo achieved what has been called a "true national unific ..., and was received courteously by Princess Noguk (the Mongolian-born wife of the future king Gongmin
Gongmin of Goryeo (23 May 1330 – 27 October 1374), also known by his Mongolian name, Bayan Temür., was 31st ruler of Goryeo from 1351 to 1374. He was the second son of King Chungsuk.
Goryeo had been a semi-autonomou ...). After being naturalized as a Korean citizen, he changed the hanja
Hanja (Hangul: ; Hanja: , ), alternatively known as Hancha, are Chinese characters () used in the writing of Korean. Hanja was used as early as the Gojoseon period, the first ever Korean kingdom.
(, ) refers to Sino-Korean vocabulary, ... of his name from "昭" to "紹" (both pronounced ''so'' in Korean), married a Korean woman and bore a son (Gong Yeo (), 1329–1397), therefore establishing the Changwon Gong clan (), whose ancestral seat was located in Changwon
Changwon () is the capital city of Gyeongsangnam-do, on the southeast coast of South Korea. With a population of 1.07 million , Changwon is South Korea's ninth-most populous city.
A port city, Changwon is bordered by Masan Bay to the south ..., South Gyeongsang Province
South Gyeongsang Province ( ko, 경상남도, translit=Gyeongsangnam-do, ) is a province in the southeast of South Korea. The provincial capital is at Changwon. It is adjacent to the major metropolitan center and port of Busan. The UNESCO World H .... The clan then received an aristocratic rank during the succeeding Joseon dynasty
Joseon (; ; Middle Korean: 됴ᇢ〯션〮 Dyǒw syéon or 됴ᇢ〯션〯 Dyǒw syěon), officially the Great Joseon (; ), was the last dynastic kingdom of Korea, lasting just over 500 years. It was founded by Yi Seong-gye in July 1392 and .... In 1794, during the reign of King Jeongjo, the clan then changed its name to Gokbu Gong clan () in honor of Confucius's birthplace Qufu
Qufu ( ; ) is a city in southwestern Shandong province, East China. It is located about south of the provincial capital Jinan and northeast of the prefectural seat at Jining. Qufu has an area of 815 square kilometers, and a total population of ... ().
Famous descendants include actors such as Gong Yoo
Gong Ji-cheol (; born July 10, 1979), better known by his stage name Gong Yoo (), is a South Korean actor. He is best known for his roles in the television dramas '' Coffee Prince'' (2007), '' Guardian: The Lonely and Great God'' (2016–2017), ... (real name Gong Ji-cheol (공지철)) and Gong Hyo-jin (공효진); and artists such as male idol group B1A4
B1A4 () is a South Korean boy band formed by WM Entertainment. The group debuted on April 23, 2011 with the single "O.K" from the EP '' Let's Fly'', after being introduced to the public through a webtoon. They have released nine studio albums ... member Gongchan
Gong Chan-sik (born August 14, 1993), better known by his stage name Gongchan, is a South Korean singer and actor. He is a member of the South Korean boy group B1A4.
Gongchan was discovered on Cyworld as a result of his winn ... (real name Gong Chan-sik (공찬식)), singer-songwriter Minzy
Gong Min-ji (; born January 18, 1994), better known by her stage name Minzy, is a South Korean singer, rapper, and dancer. She debuted in 2009 as a member of South Korean girl group 2NE1, which became one of the best-selling girl groups worldw ... (real name Gong Min-ji (공민지)), as well as her great aunt, traditional folk dancer (공옥진).
Despite repeated dynastic change in China, the title of Duke Yansheng was bestowed upon successive generations of descendants until it was abolished by the Nationalist government in 1935. The last holder of the title, Kung Te-cheng of the 77th generation, was appointed Sacrificial Official to Confucius
The Duke Yansheng, literally "Honorable Overflowing with Wisdom", sometimes translated as Holy Duke of Yen, was a Chinese title of nobility. It was originally created as a marquis title in the Western Han dynasty for a direct descendant o .... Kung Te-cheng died in October 2008, and his son, Kung Wei-yi, the 78th lineal descendant, died in 1989. Kung Te-cheng's grandson, Kung Tsui-chang, the 79th lineal descendant, was born in 1975; his great-grandson, Kung Yu-jen, the 80th lineal descendant, was born in Taipei on January 1, 2006. Te-cheng's sister, Kong Demao, lives in mainland China and has written a book about her experiences growing up at the family estate in Qufu. Another sister, Kong Deqi, died as a young woman. [.] Many descendants of Confucius still live in Qufu today.
A descendant of Confucius, H. H. Kung, was the Premier of the Republic of China
The Premier of the Republic of China, officially the President of the Executive Yuan ( Chinese: 行政院院長), is the head of the government of the Republic of China of Taiwan and leader of the Executive Yuan. The premier is nominally the .... One of his sons, (孔令傑), married Debra Paget who gave birth to Gregory Kung ().
Confucius's family, the Kongs, have the longest recorded extant pedigree in the world today. The father-to-son family tree, now in its 83rd generation, has been recorded since the death of Confucius. According to the Confucius Genealogy Compilation Committee (CGCC), he has two million known and registered descendants, and there are an estimated three million in all. [.] Of these, several tens of thousands live outside of China. In the 14th century, a Kong descendant went to Korea, where an estimated 34,000 descendants of Confucius live today. One of the main lineages fled from the Kong ancestral home in Qufu
Qufu ( ; ) is a city in southwestern Shandong province, East China. It is located about south of the provincial capital Jinan and northeast of the prefectural seat at Jining. Qufu has an area of 815 square kilometers, and a total population of ... during the Chinese Civil War
The Chinese Civil War was fought between the Kuomintang-led government of the Republic of China and forces of the Chinese Communist Party, continuing intermittently since 1 August 1927 until 7 December 1949 with a Communist victory on main ... in the 1940s and eventually settled in Taiwan. There are also branches of the Kong family who have converted to Islam after marrying Muslim women, in Dachuan in Gansu province in the 1800s, and in 1715 in Xuanwei in Yunnan province. Many of the Muslim Confucius descendants are descended from the marriage of Ma Jiaga (), a Muslim woman, and Kong Yanrong (), 59th generation descendant of Confucius in the year 1480, and are found among the Hui and Dongxiang peoples. The new genealogy includes the Muslims. Kong Dejun () is a prominent Islamic scholar and Arabist from Qinghai province and a 77th generation descendant of Confucius.
Because of the huge interest in the Confucius family tree, there was a project in China to test the DNA of known family members of the collateral branches in mainland China. Among other things, this would allow scientists to identify a common Y chromosome in male descendants of Confucius. If the descent were truly unbroken, father-to-son, since Confucius's lifetime, the males in the family would all have the same Y chromosome as their direct male ancestor, with slight mutations due to the passage of time. The aim of the genetic test was to help members of collateral branches in China who lost their genealogical records to prove their descent. However, in 2009, many of the collateral branches decided not to agree to DNA testing. [.] Bryan Sykes
Bryan Clifford Sykes (9 September 1947 – 10 December 2020) was a British geneticist and science writer who was a Fellow of Wolfson College and Emeritus Professor of human genetics at the University of Oxford., understands this decision: "The Confucius family tree has an enormous cultural significance ... It's not just a scientific question." [Oxford University
Oxford () is a city in England. It is the county town and only city of Oxfordshire. In 2020, its population was estimated at 151,584. It is north-west of London, south-east of Birmingham and north-east of Bristol. The city is home to th ...] The DNA testing was originally proposed to add new members, many of whose family record books were lost during 20th century upheavals, to the Confucian family tree. The main branch of the family which fled to Taiwan was never involved in the proposed DNA test at all.
In 2013 a DNA test performed on multiple different families who claimed descent from Confucius found that they shared the same Y chromosome as reported by Fudan University
Fudan University () is a national public research university in Shanghai, China. Fudan is a member of the C9 League, Project 985, Project 211, and the Double First Class University identified by the Ministry of Education of China. It is ....
The fifth and most recent edition of the Confucius genealogy was printed by the CGCC. It was unveiled in a ceremony at Qufu on September 24, 2009. [.] Women are now included for the first time. [.]
''See and for extensive bibliographies''
* Clements, Jonathan (2008). ''Confucius: A Biography''. Stroud, Gloucestershire, England: Sutton Publishing. .
* Confucius (1997). ''Lun yu'', (in English ''The Analects of Confucius''). Translation and notes by Simon Leys. New York: W.W. Norton. .
* Confucius (2003). ''Confucius: Analects – With Selections from Traditional Commentaries''. Translated by E. Slingerland. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing. (Original work published c. ) .
* Creel, Herrlee Glessner (1949). ''Confucius and the Chinese Way''. New York: Harper.
* Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2005). "Confucianism: An Overview". In Encyclopedia'' of Religion'' (Vol. C, pp. 1890–1905). Detroit: MacMillan Reference
* Sterckx, Roel. ''Chinese Thought. From Confucius to Cook Ding.'' London: Penguin, 2019.
* Van Norden, B.W., ed. (2001). ''Confucius and the Analects: New Essays''. New York: Oxford University Press. .
Multilingual web site on Confucius and the Analects
The Dao of Kongzi
introduction to the thought of Confucius.
(Project Gutenberg release of James Legge's Translation)
in the ''Analects of Confucius''.
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