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The Development of Confucianism

QUESTION: Life of Confucius -- The Development of Confucianism


Confucianism is a Chinese school of ethical, political, and religious teachings commonly attributed to the life of Confucius (c. 551-479 BC). The philosophical principles of Confucianism are grounded in Chinese traditions and beliefs from the time of Confucius, including loyalty to family, respect of elders, and ancestor worship. In fact, the family was considered the basis of ideal government for the local community.

Confucianism stresses the duty of moral integrity for individuals, families, and governments, while also focusing on doctrines of justice, virtue, correctness, relationship, sincerity, and community. Confucianism even emphasizes a version of the Golden Rule, “Do not do to others what you do not want done to yourself.”

Life of Confucius – The Ethical Virtues and Religious Rituals of Confucianism
Confucianism places great weight on the development of ethical virtues such as kingliness, humaneness, and gentlemanliness that are cultivated through rituals. Ethical duties within Confucianism depend on one's social and family position. There is some dispute over the religious character of Confucianism, centering on the nature of tian, or "heaven," which is in some way the foundation of our ethical duties. Some have interpreted this concept in a transcendent, metaphysical way, while neo-Confucians tend to think of "heaven" as a metaphorical way of describing the natural ethical order of things.1

1 C.Stephen Evans, Pocket Dictionary of Apologetics & Philosophy of Religion (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2002), p. 26.

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