Philosophy of Confucianism
Episode #2 of the course “Brief history of Ancient philosophy”
Although there is no word in the Chinese language that means “Confucianism” as it is understood in the Western world, the most legendary scholar of ancient Chinese philosophy is often the figure non-Chinese people associate with Chinese wisdom. Known as K’ung FuTzu, Kongzi, or Kong Fuzi, which all mean “Master Kong,” the man known as Confucius lived in the 5th or 6th century BCE in eastern China, and his name was misunderstood as “Confucius” by visitors who carried his teachings outside China.
He is historically credited as the writer or editor of the Five Classic Books of Chinese Wisdom, which are sometimes referred to as philosophical teachings and sometimes as a religion (scholars continue to debate). Confucius’ wisdom is often repeated in the form of aphorisms, or short phrases that sum up a concept in a single sentence or two.
Confucianism focuses on earthly concerns of living in order to leave a positive impact on the world, rather than aspirations of living life in order to achieve a heavenly goal. One of the most famous sayings of Confucius that has made its way all around the world translates as: “Do not do to others what you would not have them do to you.” At its most basic, the philosophy of Confucianism focuses on achieving harmony and unity on earth by showing respect, moderating extreme desires, and taking others into consideration in decision-making.
The Five Classic Books of Chinese Wisdom promote the values of paying homage and tribute to elders and ancestors, practicing trustworthiness in all social and political areas as well as in daily life, and believing that your wellbeing is dependent on the wellbeing of those you care for.
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