The collected sayings of Confucius.

A prescriptive doctrine or way.

A philosophical system, contemporary in origin with Confucianism, that places emphasis on individual rather than communal pursuit of harmony with dao.

Virtue, particularly as modeled in the life of the sage.

A philosophical system, contemporary in origin with Confucianism, that called for a firm rule of law and severe punishments.

Convention or ritual; behavior to be followed in a particular situation.

Confucian philosopher (c.372-289 B.C.) often thought of as the second founder of Confucianism. His teachings are contained in the Book of Mencius.

A philosophical system, contemporary in origin with Confucianism, that taught universal love, even of enemies.

The highest level of moral development, in which a person's natural inclinations are in harmony with dao.

A conception of an ideal society in which the social, political, and economic evils afflicting humankind have been eradicated and the state functions for the good and happiness of all.

Confucianism is the philosophical system founded on the teaching of the Chinese sage Confucius (551-479 B.C.). It has been very important in China and has also influenced Japan and Korea. Confucianism combines a political theory and a theory of human nature, resulting in a prescriptive doctrine or way (dao). The political theory is based on the idea that the legitimate ruler derives authority from heaven's command, or the mandate of heaven, and is responsible for the peoples' well-being and for peace and order in the empire. In terms of human nature, humans are essentially social animals whose ways of interaction are shaped by convention or ritual (li), which prescribe proper behavior for a given situation. Sages are those who have mastered li, and from whom the mass of people learn. Leaders should, ideally, be sages, and should appoint only those who are models of virtue (de) to prominent positions. People will emulate virtuous models, so virtuous leadership results in a natural moral education. The highest level of moral development is ren, the natural inclination toward harmony with the dao. Although Confucius never wrote down his philosophy, his disciples compiled his sayings after his death and preserved them in the basic text of Confucianism, the Analects.

Here are some topics to explore that relate to Confucianism. Looking at the articles, images, and other materials in this Research Starter may give you more ideas. Each topic has one or more articles to start you on your research, but remember that it takes more than one article to make a research paper. Continue your research with our list of articles below.

Why is Confucianism considered a utopian vision?

utopia (concept)

What was the influence of Confucianism on Chinese history and politics?
China, history of

Who was Mencius?
Does Confucianism's conflict with other Chinese philosophical systems: Daoism, Mohism, and Legalism?
Daoism (Taoism)


Confucius, Sayings (document)

Daoism (Taoism)
China, history of
utopia (concept)

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Academic Info: Religion
Comprehensive directory of online resources for the study of religion, tailored to college and advanced high school students. Extensive links to online reference material, digital archives, and societies and organizations.

Ancient China: The Later Empire: The Sung, 960–1279
Introductory page on the Sung dynasty, the confucian revival, and neo-confucianism, with links to related articles. From the award-winning World Cultures Web site, maintained by Prof. Richard Hooker at Washington State Univ.

China the Beautiful
Collection of pages on various aspects of Chinese history, culture, arts, language, and literature. Numerous images (such as portraits of emperors), audio files, time lines, maps, and excerpts from classical Chinese texts. Maintained by Dr. Ming L. Pei.

Chinese Culture: Texts
Substantial collection of Confucian, Legalist, Taoist, Buddhist, and other Chinese texts in English translation. Bibliographical documentation; some introductory material. Maintained by Prof. Paul Halsall of Fordham Univ.

Chinese Philosophy: Taoism
Article on Taoism (Daoism) linked to other articles on Chinese philosophy from the award-winning World Cultures Web site, maintained by Prof. Richard Hooker at Washington State Univ.

Confucian Documents
Elecronic texts of the works of Confucius and other early religious classics. Part of the Internet Sacred Text Archive, a Web site promoting religious tolerance.

The Confucius Publishing Co., Ltd., of Hong Kong offers the full text of Confucius's 'Lun Yu' (Analects) and other Confucian documents in 16 languages, including English. A biography of Confucius and an image archive are also provided.

EAWC: Ancient China
A part of the Exploring Ancient World Cultures site, Ancient China offers an anthology of primary texts, secondary essays, maps, a chronology, and a bibliography.

Library of Congress / Federal Research Division / Country Studies / Area Handbook Series /China
Scholarly handbook, part of the Area Handbook/Country Studies series of the Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress. Provides information (as of 2006) about the history, culture, economy, and sociopolitical structure of China.

Maps of Asia
Part of the Perry-Castaneda Library Map Collection at The University of Texas at Austin, these pages present a large collection of political, geographic, historical, and other maps of Asia and its countries and regions.

Brief article on Mencius linked to other articles on Chinese philosophy from the award-winning World Cultures Web site, maintained by Prof. Richard Hooker at Washington State Univ.

Resources for the Study of East Asian Language and Thought
A variety of scholarly materials for the study of Asian religion and philosophy, including translated classics, annotated links to online texts, and related Web sites.

Thomas More
Brief profile of Thomas More, with a portrait, a time line, a list of Internet resources, and a bibliography leading to a searchable electronic text of 'Utopia.' Part of online materials for a history of philosophy course at Oregon State University.

Virtual Religion Index
Well-organized annotated indexes of extensive religion- and theology-related research materials. Covers numerous Western and Eastern religious traditions. Maintained by the Religion Department of Rutgers University.

World History Archives
A list of links to an impressive collection of resources to support the study and teaching of world history and history in general. Many of the sites listed include searchable databases.