Confucianism Overview

December 20, 2005 · updated February 15, 2022

Fast Facts on Confucianism
Adherents 5-6 million
Name Means Teachings of Confucius, the Latinized form of K'ung-fu-tzu.
Practices none
Texts Analects
Symbols Chinese characters for scholar and water, yin-yang, Confucius images

Confucianism (rujiao) is a way of life taught by Confucius (Kong Fuzi) in China in the 6th-5th century BCE and the rituals and traditions associated with him.

Sometimes viewed as a philosophy, sometimes as a religion, Confucianism is perhaps best understood as an all-encompassing humanism that is compatible with other forms of religion.

Confucianism has deeply influenced spiritual and political life in China; its influence has also extended to Korea, Japan, and Vietnam. East Asians may profess themselves to be Shintoists, Taoists, Buddhists, Muslims, or Christians - but seldom do they cease to be Confucians.

"Confucius," the common name of Confucianism's founder, is a Latinized form of the Chinese K'ung-fu-tzu, "Master K'ung." The terms "Confucianism" and "Confucian" are not meaningful terms in Chinese. They are Western terms, coined in Europe in the 19th century.[#1582]

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