Confucius and China Through History (And Today)

Confucius and China Through History (And Today)

Chinese President and General Secretary Xi Jinping spoke several days ago about the importance of Confucius to the development of Chinese Marxism, and more broadly the People’s Republic of China. For the full transcript of the speech (in Chinese) you can click here.

If you’re interested in learning a little bit more about what Xi means when he talks about Confucianism and it’s relationship to China today, we’ve got a nice little tome for you at China Books called Confucius: Eternal Sage.

It’s already fairly popular to talk about the relationship between Confucianism and China, relating the structure and form of the traditional Chinese family, government bureaucracy and the high school examination system to Confucius. Very rarely, however, is Confucius’ attendant philosophy discussed in such a way that recognizes its complicated historical evolution, or it’s interaction with global communities apart from the easily identifiable Confucius Institutes now pretty much commonplace in the US and Europe.


Confucius Eternal Sage answers many of these questions. In part one, the book provides a thorough overview of Confucius in historical context, introducing the various thinkers who expounded on and promoted Confucius’ teaching after his death. It also discusses Confucianism’s development in later dynasties, specifically Neo-Confucianism in the Song, Ming and Qing.

Part two discusses the core Confucian values like Ren, Xiao, De, Li and Yi. This part gives non-Chinese speakers insight into how these words were used in ancient philosophical texts and their evolution in meaning over the years.

Part three discusses the relationship between Confucianism and globalization. It tracks this relationship from the earliest phases of Confucian-Jesuit missionary exchanges in the 17th century through the New Confucian movement today. This part delves into not just intellectual developments but also the personalities driving those developments, from Feng Youlan through Xu Fuguan and Cheng Zhongying.

All in all, if you’re looking for a serious overview of Confucianism that spares no detail this book is for you. You can check out the book page or click the image above. If you are interested in looking at ancient Confucian texts, Confucius Eternal Sage also contains the original and English translation version of the Analects, a document central to Confucian thought and attributed by many to Confucius himself.

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