Philosophy of Chinese

The vast majority of traditional Philosophy of Chinese originates in the Warring States and Spring Autumn eras during the period that is also well known as “Hundred Schools of Thought” wherein it is being characterized as cultural and intellectual developments. The Philosophy of Chinese started in the Warring States era and the elements of Chinese philosophy have already existed for about thousands of years. Some of the Philosophy of Chinese can be easily found in the so called Yi Jing or also known as Book of Changes wherein it is a kind of ancient compendium of divination during 672 BCE. The Daoism, Legalism, Mohism and Confucianism have started during the Warring States together with the philosophies such as Logicians, Chinese Naturalism and Agriculturalism.

In the Qin Dynasty, Confucianism became the most dominant philosophical school of China. When it comes to philosophical rivals, Mohism and Legalism are considered as the rivals of Confucianism before the well known Han Dynasty. Legalism is recognized as coherent philosophy however it was disappeared due to the relationship of the authoritarian rule of the Qin Shi Huang. Confucianism represents their collected teachings together with the well known Chinese sage “Confucius who lived from 551 to 479 BCE. The philosophy of Confucius is concerning the field of politics and ethics wherein it emphasizes the governmental and personal morality, sincerity, traditionalism, justice, social and correctness relationships. Legalism and Confucianism are responsible in creating the world’s first meritocracy that is being determined by character and education than friendship, wealth and ancestry.

In the recent year Confucianism continue to influence the Chinese culture, state of China as well as the surrounding areas of Southeast Asia. During 20th century, the Philosophy of Chinese integrated their concepts from Western philosophy. This is one of the reasons why the revolutionaries of Anti- Qing Dynasty involved in Xinhai Revolution. The Western philosophy is recognized as the alternative to traditional philosophical students and schools in the May Fourth Movement in China. In this period, Chinese scholars attempted to incorporate their Western philosophical ideologies that include nationalism, anarchism, republicanism, liberalism, socialism, Marxism and democracy into Chinese philosophy.

The examples of this ideology include Mao Zedong’s Maoism, Sun Yat-Sen’s Three Principles of the people and Marxism-Lennism. In China, the official ideology is known as Deng Xiaoping or also called as market economy socialism. Furthermore, the Chinese philosophy is considered as the melting pot of ideas and at the same time it accepts beliefs and new concepts. In the present year, the Philosophy of Chinese still carries the influence among the people of Southeast Asia and East Asia.


Shang Dynasty was based upon cycles. When Shang is under Zhou, there is philosophical, religious and political concept that was introduced that is known as “Mandate of Heaven”. This kind of mandate is taken when the rulers become unworthy about their position and at the same time they are provided with justification of Zhou rule. During 500 BCE, Zhou weakened and the country of China moved into Autumn and Spring period wherein it is considered as the classical period of Chinese philosophy. It is also an interesting fact that they coincide with the emergence of Greek philosophers. This era is also recognized as the golden age of the Philosophy of Chinese. The most influential school during the Warring States period includes Legalism, Mohism, Daoism and Confucianism.


According to researches, Confucianism is considered as one of the best philosophical school that is creatively developed from the unique teachings of sage collected in the Analects of Confucius. It is a type of system that is associated with religious, political, social and moral thought which has tremendous influence in the history and culture of Chinese. There are some westerners that recognized Confucianism as their state religion of imperial China. Confucianism influences the country of Japan and Korea. Most of the Confucian concepts include ren which means humaneness or humanity, zhengming or also known as rectification of names, xiao or filial piety, zhong or loyalty and ritual. Confucius is also the one who taught negative and positive versions of the well known Golden Rule. The concepts of Yang and Yin represent the two opposing forces leading to change and perpetual contradiction.


Daoism is considered as a kind of philosophy and developed into a religion that is based on Dao Te Ching. The term Dao means way or path however in Daoism, it is typically referred as meta physical term. It is also focus on what is being perceived and this is one of the reasons why they strive hard for harmony and at the same time minimizing the harmful interference with human affairs and nature.


Legalism can be defined as a kind of political philosophy synthesized by a professional philosopher named Han Fei. According to this philosophy, a certain ruler must govern their subjects with the most salient trinity such as Shi that means charisma, power or legitimacy, Shu means statecraft, art, tactic and method and the last one is Fa that means principle or law. In connection with this, Legalism is considered as the chosen philosophy of Qin Dynasty. The Han Fei and Shang Yang are the one that promoted the adherence to the law. It is a fact that philosophy is highly progressive and it is extremely critical to Mohist and Confucian schools.


The Yin-Yang school is a part of Warring States period that synthesize the overall concept of five elements and yin-yang. The founder of this school is Zou Yan and most of his theory explain the salient information in universe together with its basic forces. The yin agents include negative, female, cold and dark and the elements of yang includes positive, male, hot and light. The five elements or phases include earth, metal, wood, fire and water. In the recent year, this kind of theory is being associated with the states of Qi and Yan.


This kind of philosophy school is founded by Mozi wherein it promotes mutual benefit and universal love. According to Mozi, it is very important to love one another impartially and equally to prevent the occurrence of war and conflict. Mozi was against the ritual of Confucian instead Mozi emphasize the pragmatic survival in the form of statecraft, fortification and farming.