Confucius changed the face of China significantly through his life and teachings. Basing his principles in Chinese tradition, his argument for the family unit as the model for idea government and development of what has become known as the Golden Rule are but a couple of the many reasons he has been revered as a deity in Taoism, but he is better known as the originator of the philosophical school known as Confucianism, a school of thought similar to Taoism but which holds also to rigid ritual and social order. He taught significant political beliefs as well, drawing great contrasts between the temporal rulers of the land and the ideal rulers. Philosophical and political reverberations aside, Confucius also dynamically changed Chinese education. The purpose of this paper is a consideration of the changes in the philosophy, politics, and education in China as a result of the work of Confucius.
The Golden Rule: The Philosophical Principles of Confucius
Confucius contributed much to the body of Eastern and Western philosophy. His most widely known principle was The Golden Rule, sometimes called The Silver Rule because it is a negative statement, one that we should not do to others what we did not wish for ourselves. This was found in his Analects, a collection of sayings that was recorded by his followers through conversations with him and completed posthumously. This work was joined with three other Classical Chinese texts on Confucianism to comprise The Four Books, the others being Great Learning, Doctrine of the Mean, and Mencius. The traditional canon of Confucian texts is also composed of The Five Classics, those being Classic of Poetry, Book of Documents, Book of Rites, I Ching, and Spring and Autumn Annals. The Five Classics were traditionally held to have been authored or edited by Confucius, though Modern scholars debate the historicity of his author- or editor-ship. The values that he taught spread throughout all of Asia, but also to other lands, with his Analects playing a role in the philosophical climates that preceded both the American and French Revolutions.
Confucianism was not without its detractors. Jesus recognized that no prophet is welcome in his hometown, and this has been the case with Confucius at various times. The kindness and harmony advocated by the philosopher were largely ignored by Chinese leadership during his life, being far less popular than Sun Tzu’s amazing work on military strategy, The Art of War. Sun Yat-Sen’s Chinese Republic, established in 1911, labored to erase the vestiges of Confucianism in order to better assimilate to Western traditions. The philosophical tradition came under attack as well during the Chinese Cultural Revolution of 1966-76, along with other traditional religions and philosophies. While the values of Confucianism remained undisturbed under the threat of the first attack, it was largely uprooted in the latter, with public morality suffering as a result. Despite widespread acceptance...