non-dogmatic • non-theistic • non-proselytizing

Lesson Objectives

• Define Key Terms

• Appreciate the vast influence that Confucianist thought has had on China

• Understand the foreignness of concepts like God, religion, & Heaven in China

• Appreciate the role that the Four Books had on Chinese culture

• Understand the importance of Ren and Li

• Appreciate the difference between the Five Relationships

Key Terms

The Three Teachings

The Mandate of Heaven


Yi Jing (I Ching)

The Four Books




The Five Relationships

New Confucianism

A Note on Translation

In accordance with the the U.N., the National Library of Congress, and the American Academy of Religion's best practices, this course uses the pinyin method (Dao, Laozi, Qi) rather than the archaic Wade-Giles method

(Tao, Lao Tzu, Ch'i) for transliterating Chinese (eg. 道, 老子, 氣).

Confucianism in China

The Founders (600 - 200s BCE)

• The Mandate of Heaven introduced

• Laozi (founder of Daoism)

• Confucius (founder of Confucianism)

Confucianism under Han (200 BCE - 600s CE)

• Han Dynasty: Confucianism is state ideology

• The Five Classics of Confucianism canonized (136 BCE)

• Buddhism arrives in China

Confucianism Eciplised (600 - 900s CE)

• Buddhism & Daoism favored by the state

• Islam arrives in Western China

The Return of Neo-Confucianism (900 - 1300s)

• Song Dynasty: reconfirms Confucianism as state ideology

• Birth of Neo–Confucianism

The Four Books (1300 - 1500s)

• The Four Books replace the Five Classics (1313)

• Birth of Neo–Confucianism, Korea adopts Neo–Confucianism

Confucianism Returns (1500 - 1800s)

• Catholic missionaries arrive in China

• "Confucianism" described as a religion in the West (1877)

New Confucianism in the Last Century (1900s - present)

• New Confucianism: a syncretic mix of Neo-Conf + Western Rationalism

• New Confucianism suppressed durinng Maoist Communist Revolution

• 1990s: New Confucianism rises in opposition to modern Chinese Christianity