<Standard 4.4...........................................................................................................................Standard 4.6>

Focus Question: Who was Confucius and what were his writings on good government, codes of proper conduct, and relationships between parent and child, friend and friend, husband and wife, and subject and ruler?


Quill_and_ink.pngConfucius

Confucius as scholar
Confucius as scholar

  • Born around 551 BCE in China
  • Name was Kong Qui or K’ung Fu-tzu
  • Little is known about his childhood
  • Became a philosopher
  • Believed in loving others
  • Wrote many works on his beliefs

For more, link to Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

See also, Great Philosophers: Confucius

primary_sources.PNGThe Doctrine of the Mean, written 500 BCE

See The Teachings of Confucius including the Doctrine of Equilibrium and Harmony from Drexel University.

See also Political and Cultural Aspects of Chinese Civilization for more on Confucius in Chinese history.

On government:
  • Order is necessary
  • Order will be maintained with concern for others and appropriate behavior
  • Subjects should obey their rulers

Taught these values:
Li: includes ritual, propriety, etiquette, etc.
Hsiao: love within the family: love of parents for their children and of children for their parents
Yi: righteousness
Xin: honesty and trustworthiness
Jen: benevolence, humaneness towards others; the highest Confucian virtue
Chung: loyalty to the state, etc.
For more info, click here.

Parent and Child
  • The child should obey and serve their parents
  • Mutual respect
  • The child should behave properly outside the home to bring honor to their family
Friend and Friend
  • Treat others how you want to be treated

Husband and Wife
  • Husband should be a good person so the wife will obey him
  • Husband is head of house and wife will obey him

Subject and Ruler
  • Ruler should be kind to his subjects
  • He should live what he preaches
  • If he is kind, his subjects will follow him
For more on his relationship theories, click here.


Confucius statue, Imperial College, Beijing.  Image by David Stanley
Confucius statue, Imperial College, Beijing. Image by David Stanley


primary_sources.PNGClick here to read The Analects by Confucius

Link to Standford Encyclopedia of Philosophy on Confucius

History for Kids on Confucius

For more, see United Religions Initiative Kids: Confucianismas well as background on the other world religions of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam and Judaism.