Confucius (551-479 BCE), otherwise known as Kong Fuzi, was a Chinese philosopher and the founder of Confucianism, the foundations of which would go on to become the basis of Chinese culture and society. Confucius believed in the importance of treating others with respect and understanding, emphasizing the virtues of individual humanity, morality, and justice in order to attain a harmonious society. He sought to create a social, moral, and political order grounded in mutual respect, harmony, and balance between all members of society.
At the heart of Confucius’ philosophy is “ren”, an ethical term that translates to loving kindness, benevolence, humanity or good will. Ren is the main virtue that Confucius advocated for and is based on the idea of expressing and receiving respect, affection and sympathy for others. It is closely related to li, another major philosophical concept of Confucius which stresses etiquette, propriety, good manners, and moral principles as a means of achieving harmony. Together, ren and li are the dual pillars of Confucianism.
In addition to ren and li, Confucius’ philosophy is also known for its emphasis on social responsibility, duty and obedience. According to Confucius, it is the responsibility of each person to cultivate their own moral character and inner strength, in order to maintain relationships of mutual respect and cooperation. This is why Confucianism is often associated with words like filial piety and loyalty, as they are seen as important qualities to develop in order to achieve harmony in society.
Confucius also focused on the concept of jen, a virtue close to ren but aimed at achieving peace and harmony among people. Jen emphasizes humaneness and altruism, advocating that one should practice kindness and justice towards others in order to foster social harmony and maintain a peaceful coexistence.
In conclusion, Confucius was the founder of Confucianism, a philosophy focused on cultivating social harmony through ren and li, or loving kindness and moral principles, as well as jen, the practice of compassion and altruism towards others. These principles are still relevant today and have been an integral part of Chinese culture and social beliefs for centuries.