History

Who: Confucianism was founded by Kung Fu Tzu (Confucius), a Chinese philosopher and educator. He lived from 551 to 479 BCE (Before the Common Era, formerly BC, Before Christ). He believed that his philosophy could transform individuals and society into a more harmonious unit.

What: Confucianism is a socio-philosophical system aimed at bettering individuals and society. Its primary goals were to educate people to be self-motivated and self-controlled, and to enable people to assume their responsibilities, which would, in turn, cultivate a better self and a harmonious society. Confucius believed that lawlessness and social problems stemmed from the combination of unenlightened individuals and a social structure without norms.

When: Confucius lived between 551 and 479 BCE. His teachings were carried on and promoted by his disciple Mencius, and, later, by Hsun-Tzu, who lived from about 300 to 235 BCE. A rationalist form of Neo-Confucianism, an outgrowth of Confucianism, began to gain popularity through the teachings of Chu Hsi, who lived from 1033 to 1107 CE (Common Era, formerly AD, Anno Domini, Year of our Lord). A more socially oriented Neo-Confucianism became popular through the teachings of Wang Yang-Ming, who lived from 1472 to 1529 CE.

Where: Confucianism began in China and spread through South East and East Asia, gaining popularity in Japan, Korea and Vietnam as well. For a long period of time, Confucianism had empirical acceptance and validity, as the Chinese emperors and their dynasties saw it as the official philosophy of the empire.