Chinese Schools of Thought

Confucius [Confucianism]

Confucius (551–479 BCE) was a Chinese teacher, editor, politician, and philosopher of the Spring and Autumn Period of Chinese history. The philosophy of Confucius emphasized personal and governmental morality, correctness of social relationships, justice and sincerity. His followers competed successfully with many other schools during the Hundred Schools of Thought era only to be suppressed in favor of the Legalists during the Qin Dynasty. Following the victory of Han over Chu after the collapse of Qin, Confucius's thoughts received official sanction and were further developed into a system known as Confucianism.


Shang Yang [Legalism]

Shang Yang (390–338 BC) was an important statesman of the State of Qin during the Warring States Period of Chinese history. Born Wei Yang in the State of Wey, with the support of Duke Xiao of Qin Yang enacted numerous reforms in Qin. Yang believed in the rule of law and considered loyalty to the state to be above that of the family. Yang introduced two sets of changes to the State of Qin. The first, in 356 BC, were: 1. Li Kui's Book of Law was implemented, with the important addition of a rule providing punishment equal to that of the perpetrator for those aware of a crime but failing to inform the government; codified reforms into enforceable laws. 2. Stripping the nobility of land rights and assigning land to soldiers based upon their military successes. The army was also separated into twenty military ranks, based upon battlefield achievements. 3. As manpower was short in Qin, Yang encouraged the cultivation of unsettled lands and wastelands, favoring agriculture over commerce. Yang introduced his second set of changes in 350 BC, which included a new standardized system of land allocation and reforms to taxation.

Laozi [Taoism/Daoism]

Laozi (6th century BCE) was a philosopher of ancient China, best known as the author of the Tao Te Ching (often simply referred to as Laozi). His association with the Tào Té Chīng has led him to be traditionally considered the founder of philosophical Taoism (pronounced as "Daoism"). He is also revered as a deity in most religious forms of Taoist philosophy, which often refers to Laozi as Taishang Laojun, or "One of the Three Pure Ones".

Gautama Buddha or Siddhartha Gautama Buddha [Buddhism]

Gautama Buddha or Siddhartha Gautama Buddha was a spiritual teacher from the Indian subcontinent on whose teachings Buddhism was founded. The word Buddha is a title for the first awakened being in an era. In most Buddhist traditions, Siddhartha Gautama is regarded as the Supreme Buddha of our age, "Buddha" meaning "awakened one" or "the enlightened one." Gautama Buddha may also be referred to as Śākyamuni ("Sage of the Śākyas"). Gautama taught Middle Way compared to the severe asceticism found in the Sramana (renunciation) movement common in his region. He later taught throughout regions of eastern India such as Magadha and Kosala