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The Social Impact of Confucianism

What Social Impact Did Confucianism Have

Confucianism is a way of life and set of teachings developed from the thoughts of Confucius, who lived in China in the 6th century BCE. The philosophy stresses personal and governmental morality, the correctness of social relationships, justice, ritual decorum, and sincerity. Unlike other belief systems such as Taoism or Buddhism which focused on spiritual liberation or nirvana, Confucianism maintained that the ultimate goal was to create a harmonious society. It had a significant impact on East Asia, and – some argue – elsewhere.

The Influence of Confucius

The influence of Confucianism on China is enormous. The moral system that Confucius, a sage on the level of Aristotle and Plato, devised has greatly influenced the way the Chinese see the world. It also had a significant impact on Asia, and maybe even Europe.

Many people believe that Confucianism was a philosophy, a religion, or a way of governing. However, it was more than just a belief system: Confucianism is associated with values and a way of life.

Philosopher, poet, politician, and teacher, Confucius was born in 551 BCE (Before the Common Era). His teachings developed and grew during the Zhou Dynasty (1046 BCE – 256 BCE) and formed the basis for much of Chinese culture and society.

Confucianism was suppressed during the Qin Dynasty (1636 – 1912), before being revived. His teachings remain active today in China, and elsewhere.

Confucian Influence on Chinese History and Chinese Civilization

In ancient China, Confucius’ teachings had a great influence on Chinese intellectuals, government (Han Dynasty: Confucianism encouraged the government to give jobs to educated people rather than nobles), society, and even traditional Chinese culture.

He introduced new concepts based on the idea of harmony and the importance of social order. Partly by traveling through northeast and central China.

One of the main reasons Confucian ethics had a significant impact on traditional Chinese society is that it influenced religions, governments, and education.

Many aspects of the Confucian idea can still be found in the Chinese people’s way of life today. The most obvious is its influence on the family unit.

The strength of a nation derives from the integrity of the home.


Although there are other traditions that preceded it, such as Buddhism and Daoism, the Confucian influence principles are still very much alive today in countries such as Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and Vietnam.

Confucianism in Contemporary China

The teachings of Confucius are still an important part of Chinese education today. The concept of filial piety is still taught and practiced in many parts of China today.

For example, students bow to their parents as a sign of respect when they see them. This concept also extends beyond the family structure to the country itself, where children are taught to honor and respect their country.

In Confucianism, the family is more important than the individual. The whole society is considered as one big family consisting of all members.

Members of a family should take care of each other and respect their elders.

Family members should work together to maintain harmony within the family and avoid disputes.

Confucianism is a system of morality and therefore has social implications.

It’s a humanistic philosophy that advocates being good to others and not harming others. It states that you can only be happy if you’re good to others and don’t harm them.

The effects are largely positive because they put pressure on individuals to behave positively when there are no negative consequences for their actions.

This is helpful to society because if people have a strong sense of morality, they’ll not commit crimes or do anything that could harm society.

If people had no morals, they’d have no respect for authority or laws; they’d do only what benefits themselves, without regard for other people.

The Confucian virtue is that one should be good to others and not hurt them. But if you do hurt someone, you should bear the consequences for your actions.

Confucianism Elsewhere in Asia

Confucius is studied in Asian countries outside China.

Until the nineteenth century, Neo-Confucianism (the evolution of Confucian teachings by the twelfth-century scholar Zhu Xi, and others) was the leading philosophy in Japan, Korea, and Vietnam.

It continues to have an impact to this day.

Confucius and the European Enlightenment

Confucius’s works were translated into European languages in the sixteenth century; initially into Latin by Michele Ruggieri.

The works were published in Latin in 1687, and are thought to have influenced thinkers in Europe of the period – especially those involved in the Enlightenment who wanted to add Confucius’s thinking on morality into western European thought and practice.

The object of the superior man is truth.


Difference Between Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism

Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism are three of the most influential philosophies in East Asia.


Confucianism is a philosophy that emphasizes the importance of ethics, moral character, and good behavior.

The philosophy behind Confucianism is that a virtuous leader can create a well-ordered society in which everyone follows ethical and moral values.

Confucianism was built on an ancient religious foundation to establish moral values that have had a significant impact on Chinese society and culture.


The tradition of Taoism or Daoism emphasizes living in harmony with nature.

Taoists believe that people should live simply and in harmony with nature rather than interfere with nature.

Living in harmony with nature means following the Dao, which literally means “the path” (or the way). It also refers to the flow of water and air, etc., that’s, how nature works. … It means paying attention to the little things and doing your best without worrying about success or failure because life goes on no matter what happens or what path we choose.


Buddhism is a philosophical tradition that originated in India and emphasizes non-violence and compassion towards all living beings.

Buddhist teachings focus on the principle that suffering comes from attachment to material things and desires. Buddhism is widely practiced in the West.

The Buddhist practice of meditation has been popularized by Western culture as a means of relaxation and attainment of inner peace.

For Buddhists, meditation is much more than a way to relax; it’s the path to enlightenment.

History of Confucianism

Confucius, also known as Kong Qiu or K’ung Fu-tzu, was a Chinese philosopher, teacher, writer, politician, and prophet. He had a strong social conscience and believed in ethics and personal values. He believed that each individual can improve his own life and society.

Confucius was born in 551 BC in eastern China (Shandong province) and belonged to the Shi class (a social class between the aristocracy and the common people).

He lost his father when he was three years old and was raised in poverty by his mother.

He received a basic education at schools for the common people, where he studied and learned the six arts** (music, archery, chariot making, calligraphy, and mathematics) – which later became part of Confucian philosophy.**

According to Wikipedia:

it’s said that in his early 20s he worked at various government jobs, as an accountant, and as a keeper of sheep and horses, and used the earnings to provide a proper burial for his mother. When his mother died, Confucius is said to have mourned (at the age of 23) for three years, as was the tradition.”


Because of his social status, Confucius couldn’t enter government service, so he learned many menial tasks.

After finding employment with the Jisun clan, a hereditary family whose principal members served as chief advisors to the rulers of Lu, Confucius took on several humble positions that led him to more important posts in the Lu government, first as minister of construction and later as minister of crime.

As Minister of Crime, Confucius effectively handled law and order problems, but he was even more remarkable in diplomatic assignments.

After several years of difficult challenges and clashes with the Jisun clan, he resigned.

As a consequence, he had to leave his homeland and set out to find rulers who’d accept his influence and vision of high moral standards in government.

Learn more about the biography of Confucius

Confucian Values

Confucianism is based on:

  • Ethics
  • Moral character
  • Good behavior

The entire development of Confucianism can be seen as an attempt to narrow the gap between ideal and reality, to improve people by developing their innate humanity, and at the same time to make society more humane.

The golden rule of Confucianism is “Do not treat others as you would not want to be treated” (Don’t do to others what you would not want to be done to you).

Confucian culture believed that a person’s moral character depended on his upbringing.

A virtuous person was one with good moral character, and a virtuous society respected its elders and cared for the weakest members of society, the children and the sick.

According to Confucius, respect for others, unselfishness, and humility are important.

The family, in Confucius’ idealized view, is based on five relationships: Ruler to the subject, father to son, husband to wife, elder brother to younger brother, etc.

The relationships are hierarchical, with the ruler at the top, but all are equal in their own spheres.

Confucius Ideas

The main Confucian principles of ethics, as well as its core values, are all based on human nature.

The two most important principles are benevolence and righteousness. They can be considered as opposites of each other. Benevolence defines our relationships with others in society, while righteousness concerns the way we treat ourselves.

Respect is the virtue of treating others with consideration. It requires that we strive not to hurt or upset them and accept their right to their own way of life.

Altruism is the opposite of selfishness; it’s selfless concern for the welfare of others.

Humility means accepting our place in the natural order, which differs from person to person but never places one above another.

Positive Effects of Confucian Values on the Individual

Each person is unique. And yet, by nature, we’re all the same, because we want to be happy and fulfilled.

Those who work on their ethics, moral values, and good behavior will automatically have a positive impact on themselves and those around them.

If we apply the Confucian classics, by acquiring new skills and knowledge about ethics, moral values, and good behavior, our inner selves are strengthened and we become better people for ourselves and others.

Confucian teachings include being tolerant of other people’s views and behavior.

This makes us more understanding of other people’s needs and makes us more willing to help those in need. We’d also become more resilient if we followed the Confucius teachings.

Instead of giving up when faced with difficulties, we’d learn to overcome them with patience and perseverance and become better people over time.

If we don’t know life, how can we know death?


If we applied the Confucian concept of ethics, we’d be more alert to threats from outside our species and could develop a more advanced society. We’d live in social harmony and social stability, and we’d have a greater impact on the world because people would have more time to focus on things other than survival.

Negative Effects of the Confucian Concept on the Individual

In a perfect world where everyone is a good Confucian scholar in a structured society and puts others before themselves, the Confucian concept is a great idea, but humanity as a whole is still far from the Confucian vision.

When it comes to how we should respect others in the family, The Confucian principle is that we should show respect to elders because of their age, or men because of their gender roles.

From the modern perspective of Western societies, this can be difficult to understand, and many people would say that we cannot do this because people’s social roles and social status can change at any time.

How can you show as much respect to someone who doesn’t deserve it as to someone who does?

This is where the hierarchical aspect of Confucian thought comes into play.

In the Confucian concept, there must be a hierarchy, and the person at the top must be a role model for everyone else. If you’re at the bottom of the hierarchy, you cannot rise above your position.