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Confucius was a Chinese philosopher who lived between 551 and 479 BCE. He was also a teacher and a politician. During his time, he developed a philosophy that he believed would make the world a better place (Fingarette, 1972). All his works and emphasis were geared towards harmonizing the relationships between people, be it within family set-ups, social setups and even the interaction between leaders and their subjects. He insisted o the importance of developing an ethical society, which he, and his students, believed would have been the best ways to ensure that there was peace and harmony among the people. His teachings were applauded by many and were the basis of a new system that was known as Confucianism. His students were always on top in competitions which further created respect to him. His students believed in his teachings and took after him to further develop his work. Some of his disciples included such people as Mencius (Fingarette, 1972).

Confucius Ideas


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Ren is a virtue that demanded that human beings treated other human being in a selfless and humane way. They were not supposed to reciprocate ethically and the general rule was that people should do unto others what they would be done unto them (Xinzhong, 2000). He insisted that all humans were naturally similar but their practices drift them apart. He argued that there was need for people to cultivate people’s behavior because naturally, people will do anything to achieve what they believe in. Therefore, there is need to instill a belief to the people so that they can believe in ethical achievements (Fingarette, 1972). 

Filial piety (xiao shun)

Some scholars have described this virtue as the greatest among those that were developed by Confucius. It did not only demand that respect be shown to the living, but to the dead as well. Within the virtue, he described five different relationships within which he outlined the responsibilities of each of the partners in the relationship (Xinzhong, 2000). The relationships included ruler to the subjects, father to son, elder brother to younger brother, friend to friend, and husband to wife. The relationships were always inclined towards a certain direction where the senior person would get less punishment than the junior in case they had an unethical incident. These relationships later formed the basis for the legal system of the Chinese people.

Performance of Rituals (li)

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Confucius stated that rituals were very important in the development of a society and that there was need for the people to have them in the best and ethical ways. According to him, ‘li’ would be used to mean all the secular occurrences that occurred within a society (Xinzhong, 2000). It included education and music and politeness was a key ingredient to them. He considered rituals as the things that people do every day as opposed by periodic occurrences within one’s life.

The Gentleman (Shi )

This has been more used in the classical Confucianism, where people should struggle to become perfect. Confucianism states that a perfect person is the one who is a gentleman, scholar, and saint all at once (Xinzhong, 2000). Gentlemen were supposed to be morally upright, and upheld all the other virtues stated by Confucianism. Confucius tried to become the gentleman in these terms but he failed to get the high position where he wanted to show how possible it was to become a gentleman.

Reflections on the Teachings

These teachings could be very beneficial in the modern society because they are geared towards making the world a better place to live. They are however based on a belief rather than a fact that all people are similar naturally whereas we know that ever person is unique. They are therefore very hard to include in the present world as people have evolved from different cultures and beliefs. 

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