Chinese philosophy

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Chinese philosophy is philosophy written in the Chinese tradition of thought. Chinese philosophy has a history of several thousand years; its origins are often traced back to the Yi Jing (the Book of Changes), an ancient compendium of divination, which uses a system of 64 hexagrams to guide action. This system is attributed to King Wen of Zhou (1099–1050 BCE) and the work reflects the characteristic concepts and approaches of Chinese philosophy. The Book of Changes evolved in stages over the next eight centuries, but the first recorded reference is in 672 BCE.[1]

The Tao Te Ching (Dào dé jīng, in pinyin romanisation) of Lao Tzu (Lǎo zǐ) [2] and the Analects of Confucius (Kǒng fū zǐ; sometimes called Master Kong) [3] both appeared around the 6th century BCE, slightly ahead of early Buddhist philosophy in Northern India and slightly after pre-Socratic philosophy in Ancient Greece.

Confucianism represents the collected teachings of the Chinese sage Confucius, who lived from 551 to 479 BCE. His philosophy concerns the fields of ethics and politics, emphasizing personal and governmental morality, correctness of social relationships, justice, traditionalism, and sincerity. The Analects stress the importance of ritual, but also the importance of 'ren', which loosely translates as 'human-heartedness,[4] Confucianism, along with Legalism, is responsible for creating the world’s first meritocracy, which holds that one's status should be determined by ability instead of ancestry, wealth, or friendship.[3] Confucianism was and continues to be a major influence in Chinese culture, the state of China and the surrounding areas of Southeast Asia.

Throughout history, Chinese philosophy has been molded to fit the prevailing schools of thought and circumstances in China. The Chinese schools of philosophy, except during the Qin Dynasty, can be both critical and yet relatively tolerant of one another. Even when one particular school of thought is officially adopted by the ruling bureaucracy, as in the Han Dynasty, there may be no move to ban or censor other schools of thought. Despite and because of the debates and competition, they generally have cooperated and shared ideas, which they would usually incorporate with their own. For example, Neo-Confucianism was a revived version of old Confucian principles that appeared around the Song Dynasty, with Buddhist, Taoist, and Legalist features in the religion.

During the Industrial and Modern Ages, Chinese philosophy had also began to integrate concepts of Western philosophy, as steps toward modernization. By the time of the Xinhai Revolution in 1911, there were many calls, such as the May Fourth Movement, to completely abolish the old imperial institutions and practices of China. There have been attempts to incorporate democracy, republicanism, and industrialism into Chinese philosophy, notably by Sun Yat-Sen (Sūn yì xiān, in one Mandarin form of the name) at the beginning of the 20th century. Mao Zedong blended Marxism with Confucianism and Taoism and other communist thought to create what is sometimes known today as "Maoism".[5] The government of the People's Republic of China encourage Socialism with Chinese characteristics. Although, officially, it does not encourage some of the philosophical practices of Imperial China, the influences of past are still deeply ingrained in the Chinese culture. As in Japan, philosophy in China has become a melting pot of ideas. It accepts new concepts, while attempting also to accord old beliefs their due.

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