Confucius: Philosophy Summary


Confucius and Confucianism is barely the most popular philosophy across the world. Born in China, the Confucianism spreads all over the continents but it is above all perverted by Buddhism for rich people, easy teachers who considered Confucianism as a profitable business. Let’s back to the roots of the philosophy of Confucius.

Biography of Confucius

Confucius (in chinese K’ung Fu Tzu) was born in circa -555, in the province of Shantung in a noble but poor family. We are at the end of the period of hegemony (lords) and the dawn of the Warring States period (500-221) which ends with the founding of the Empire. This feudal times, politically troubled, has a great intellectual ferment.

The Princes Schools maintain morality and politics, led by teachers who have a customer’s personal disciples who can be counted by hundreds. His works have been deliberately destroyed in 213 and 206, the texts that have survived are reconstructions.

The philosophy of ancient Chinese

The ancient Chinese philosophy is common to all schools. Veterans in the natural order is the Tao (Dao), which manifests itself in the regular alternation of the seasons and the days and nights. This is the cycle of cold and heat, shade and light, feminine and masculine, the yin and yang. The Tao is the “principle of order” in all of nature, but also to any natural element, so the human being, which is a mixture of celestial and terrestrial influences, Yang and Yin. According to the Old World consists of “three powers”: Heaven, Earth and Man. Every man is the intermediary between the religious heaven and earth, but only the “Son of Heaven”, ie the King is empowered to fully play this role. The Tao of man comprises all the principles of conduct, moral principles, which can be the intermediary.

Conficius as an individual ethics

Tao of Confucius requires a personal approach. One approach to the Tao in the study and practice of the virtues of generosity and kindness, in good faith and loyalty. Thus one acquires the TB (Te, De). It becomes a man of quality, a sage, a saint, a civilized being, a model for others. Human nature is neither bad in itself but it is nor “man of quality” or “good” by birth. It is through effort and study of self and other that we become a good father, good Prince will bring social peace to his people, a great king.

Conficius as a social ethics

Confucius is a moralist who aims to ensure social peace, the benefit of all and especially the people, by virtue of each. According to him, the virtue of each depends, in a strict, quality of language used, what he calls “correcting names”.

You have to know precisely

– What we must do

– What we should not

– What is right and what is wrong.

We must therefore define the concepts, and concepts are defined, you must know, by his words and his actions comply with the concepts.

Therefore people have to practice the virtue, respect the elders and practice the Rites

– Because no society can exist without the ceremonies that allow the teaching of Tradition and each to be located in relation to other socially.


Criticism of Confucius

The Socialist Mo Tzu (Mozi, Mo Tzu) (v.479-v.381)

The Socialist Mo Tzu denounces the feudalism of the time, the spirit of clan rivalries and prestige. He condemns the war between the Cities, the struggles between the great families, their lavish spending that result in exploitation and misery of the people. According to Mo Tzu is not the solution to find, as suggested by Confucius, among the ancients and morality, but in the creation of an autocratic system of government that impose generalized altruism, which imposes universal love. Preachers, warriors will be the education of the people. Any social hierarchy will be deleted. Living standards will be uniform. Private vengeance will be replaced by a Justice who would deny all public homicide.


The Taoists challenged, too, Confucius. What they want is to rebuild the society on the basis of the old tradition and virtue. What they want is restore World Order by individualistic asceticism. They are convinced that every technical progress, each new institution is one more step towards the enslavement of man and the degradation of its natural virtues. Taoists, out of respect for Nature is Yin, Yang rejected the action, condemn social life and exalts individualism (green).


The lawyers, in contrast to Taoists, exalt the state and its role in the society. The lawyers, advisers of the first Emperor of China, Shi Huangdi (Shih Huang-Ti) (260-210), which was imposed by corruption, political assassination and war, advocate the creation of a new order. This new order will not be based on traditional morality, which has demonstrated its impotence, but on a “sensible”, because effective, of government based on the interest and fear, reward and punishment . They believe that greed, vanity of titles and honors, fear of punishment, will restore the rule and ensure its expansion. The administration, fully subject to the Emperor, will be entrusted to officials strongly hierarchical, average quality, formalist and obedient, supporting their powers over criminal law known to all and rigorous. The immediate objective of Examiners is continued by force and cunning of the state order. They argue, however, that their distant goal is different. The distant goal of lawyers is the education of the people and thus changing mores through education. The ideal state is the state that will be neither rewards nor punishments, in which everyone will, of itself, behave properly, ie righteousness, a state without law.

How to be confucean today ?

After the Revolution of 1949 Marxist Mao Zedong-lashed himself violently in Confucianism and Master Kong, accusing him of having mummified in “King very perfect and holy” and his doctrine to be a dogmatism imposed on the people by the powerful. Today Buddhism is expanding its popular temples in China, financed by merchants of the diaspora and the new rich of state capitalism, but Confucianism remains a fundamental traditional value for hundreds of millions of Chinese. This is why the political authorities, who face a significant rise in crime, hear reinforce the popular belief hoping to avoid “excesses” that might undermine their power.


Cite this article as: Tim, "Confucius: Philosophy Summary, May 13, 2012, " in Philosophy & Philosophers, May 13, 2012,

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