Pub. date: 2010 | Online Pub. Date: May 06, 2010 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412958660 | Print ISBN: 9781412958653 | Online ISBN: 9781412958660| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
The term Confucianism refers to a complex set of philosophical, cultural, ethicoreligious, and political teachings and practices that form a bonum commune of the East Asian civilization that encompasses the Chinese, Korean, Japanese, and Vietnamese. Though Confucianism literally denotes a set of ideas advanced by Master Kongzi (Kongfuzi, Latinized by Jesuits as Confucius; 551–479 BCE), it encompasses not only various, often mutually competing, or even conflicting, philosophical and political ideas advanced by later Confucians (rujia) but also the political, social, and cultural practices predicated on and inspired by such ideas. The early sinologists' patriarchal and patrimonial (and hence authoritarian) illustration of Confucian politics notwithstanding, it is indeed difficult to definitively label Confucianism as either authoritarian or liberal, due to the multiple and locally divergent developments within the Confucian tradition. For this reason, students of Confucianism tend to distinguish “philosophical Confucianism,” represented by Confucius, Mencius, and Xunzi, the three giants (fajia) ...