II. Ancient and Classical Periods, 3500 B.C.E.–500 C.E. > C. Early Civilizations and Classical Empires of South and East Asia > 4. China, to 221 B.C.E. > a. Schools of Classical Chinese Thought
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  The Encyclopedia of World History.  2001.
 
 
a. Schools of Classical Chinese Thought
 
In response to the chaotic, changing world of the late Spring and Autumn period and Warring States period, many schools (frequently dubbed the “Hundred Schools”) emerged usually surrounding an individual, an itinerant thinker seeking to offer advice to the feudal lords. The following schools are among the most famous:  1
 
1. Confucianism
 
Confucians shared a belief in a heaven that guided all matters in the cosmos and that men were most happy when they were ruled in accordance with the Way (dao). To live a moral, virtuous life was to live in harmony with the dao. Rites (li) were manifestations of proper conduct. Proper behavior required wisdom gained through rigorous study, which all were capable of acquiring, by learning from the sage kings and through the lessons of history. All humankind and human society itself was perfectible. Each of the five human relationships—father-son, ruler-subject, brother-brother, husband-wife, and friend-friend—was nurtured by a distinct virtue, and all bonds were reciprocal.  2
 
a. Confucius (551–479 B.C.E.)
 
Born Kong Qiu in the state of Lu (in Shandong), Confucius taught students about proper behavior in government and life, traveling widely to get a hearing at regional states but without success. His Lunyu (Analects), compiled by his disciples, is a collection of his thoughts and didactic stories usually in question-answer form with the disciples. Human beings were central to his thinking. He argued that people should seek to be the best they could, for goodness itself was its own reward. He stressed the role of the gentleman (junzi) or moral exemplar who should rule. He also placed emphasis on ritual as the embodiment of proper behavior. The Way was the correct sociomoral manner in which human life and politics need be conducted, and the junzi lived in full accord with it. “Do not do to others what you would not want others to do to you.” His government would be one ruled by moral men, not abstract laws; he was a self-proclaimed transmitter of the institutions and practices of the Duke of Zhou, not their creator.  3
 
 
 
The Encyclopedia of World History, Sixth edition. Peter N. Stearns, general editor. Copyright © 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Maps by Mary Reilly, copyright 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

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