Chinese Schools of Thought

Ancient China


Buddhism was a religion created to justify the after life. People who participated in Buddhism had a goal, and that was to reach Nirvana. By sacrificing and devoting themselves there was the chance that commoners could reach Nirvana (Nirvana: being in a state free from suffering). They often practiced meditation and created 'temples' called stupas. As the religion carried to China from India, stupas obtained a different name, Pagodas. Pagodas were also temples, but they were tiered instead of rounded.

Taoism (Daoism)

Founded by Laozi, Taoism was the thought that what happens, happens. Taoists believed that the best way to live life was simply and to be one with nature; thus creating Yin and Yang. Yin and Yang are symbolized by opposites: black and white. There was also this ideal that the leader who governed least was the best.


Legalism was discovered by Hanfeizi. Born naturally bad, man needed to be punished or 'whipped' into shape. Hanfeizi believed in harsh punishments and strict laws, which caused much rebellion from the people.


Leading by example was the main idea of Confucianism, which was a philosophy created by Confucius. The leader was to live respectfully (kind of like living by a Code of Conduct)  and needed to be educated. Everyone needed to respect elders, most of all one's parents. The respect towards parents was called Filial Piety; it was so important that it got its own name.
Discovering China - Confucius