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CHINESE PHILOSOPHY (”love of wisdom”)

Chinese philosophy has passed through three distinct historical stages:

The Classical Age: a creative period from the 6th to the 2nd century BC;

The Medieval Age: from the 2nd century BC to the 11th century AD, a period of synthesis and absorption of foreign thought;

The Modern Age: from the 11th century to the present, a period of maturation of earlier philosophical trends and introduction of new philosophies from the West.

Throughout all these periods, Chinese thought has tended toward humanism rather than spiritualism and rationalism rather than mysticism.



Chinese philosopher and one of the most influential figures in Chinese history.

When you talk about eastern philosophy you can’t help but talk about Confucius. He is the central focus of eastern thought and his teachings branched out to his diciples (like the famous Mencius).

According to tradition, Confucius was born in the state of Lu of the noble K’ung clan. His original name was K’ung Ch’iu. His father, commander of a district in Lu, died three years after Confucius was born, leaving the family in poverty; but Confucius nevertheless received a fine education.

“To learn and from time to time to apply what one has learned — isn’t that a pleasure?”

Analects 1:1

He was married at the age of 19 and had one son and two daughters. During the four years immediately after his marriage, poverty compelled him to perform menial labors for the chief of the district in which he lived.


His mother died in 527 BC, and after a period of mourning he began his career as a teacher, usually traveling about and instructing the small body of disciples that had gathered around him. His fame as a man of learning and character and his reverence for Chinese ideals and customs soon spread through the principality of Lu.

Living as he did in the second half of the Chou dynasty (circa 1027-256 BC), when feudalism and corruption in China were rampant, Confucius deplored the contemporary disorder and lack of moral standards.

He came to believe that the only remedy was to convert people once more to the principles and precepts of the sages of antiquity. He therefore lectured to his pupils on the ancient classics. He taught the great value of the power of example.

“Rulers can be great only if they themselves lead exemplary lives, and were they willing to be guided by moral principles, their states would inevitably become prosperous and happy.”

Confucius put his theories to a public test until at the age of 50 when he was appointed magistrate of Chung-tu, and the next year minister of crime of the state of Lu.

His administration was successful; reforms were introduced, justice was fairly dispensed, and crime was almost eliminated. So powerful did Lu become that the ruler of a neighboring state maneuvered to secure the minister’s dismissal.

Confucius left his office in 496 BC, traveling about and teaching, vainly hoping that some other prince would allow him to undertake measures of reform. In 484 BC, after a failed search for an ideal ruler, he returned for the last time to Lu. He spent the remaining years of his life in retirement, writing commentaries on the classics.


Confucius did not put into writing the principles of his philosophy; these were handed down only through his disciples. The Lun Y (Analects), a work compiled by some of his disciples, is considered the most reliable source of information about his life and teachings. Although he himself had little belief in the supernatural, he has been revered almost as a spiritual being by millions.


He believed in Ren: the inner atitude of being humane, loving, and good.

The entire teaching of Confucius was practical and ethical, rather than religious. He claimed to be a restorer of ancient morality and held that proper outward acts based on the five virtues of kindness, uprightness, decorum, wisdom, and faithfulness constitute the whole of human duty. Reverence for parents, living and dead, was one of his key concepts.

“What you do not wish for yourself, do not wish to others.”

He also believed in The Five Relationships, they were:


-people of

authority should

care for ruled.



-old superior to young

-men are superior to women



Enviromentalist; believed that all human beings are born good. Enviroment later changes behaivior

- Hs n-tzu-

came up with concept of the universe as a triad of heaven, earth, and humanity.


The second great philosophy of the classical age was. The philosopher Lao-tzu, who probably lived during the 6th century BC, is usually regarded as the founder of this school.

Whereas Confucianism sought the full development of human beings through moral education and the establishment of an orderly hierarchical society, Taoism sought to preserve human life by following the Way of Nature (Tao) and by reverting to primitive agrarian communities and a government that did not control or interfere with life.

Taoism attempted to bring the individual into perfect harmony with nature through a mystical union with the Tao. This mysticism was carried still further by Chuang-tzu, a Taoist philosopher of the late 4th century BC, who taught that through mystical union with the Tao the individual could transcend nature and even life and death.

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