The Confucian Analects
(Lun Yü, Lun Yu or Lunyu)
Confucius (K'ung Fu-tzu, Kongzi, Kong Zi or
孔子) was born of a rather impoverished family of noble descent in the state of Lu (in modern Shantung). He quickly achieved a reputation for scholarship and learning. During his life, he witnessed the disintegration of unified imperial rule. He was a great admirer of the Duke of
Zhou, and sought to convince various nobles to rule according to certain social customs he associated with early Zhou culture. These customs emphasized moral responsibility and the concept of the chün
tzu. The chün tzu was any refined gentleman who embodied the virtue of benevolence while he maintained traditional rites, customs, and filial piety toward his ancestors, family, and the gods. Stereotypically, this gentleman was marked by his white beard, fine clothes, and long fingernails. Confucianism might be seen as a philosophy in which politics and government are an extension of morality and tradition. As long as the ruler remained benevolent, the government will naturally work toward the good of the people (Lau n. p.). A Confucian philosopher strove to be responsible, controlled, and temperate.
In the Western Han, Confucianism became generally associated with a reverence for "ancient" books and "ancient gods." It later grew to be the official state philosophy of the Chinese empire; it retained this preeminent position up until the twentieth-century. Confucianism ultimately became the basis of a state religion. While it was based on the ancient gods and rites, it was associated closely with philosophical ideals as well. Inevitably, the Master's teachings became modified over the course of time.
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