Fifty Major Thinkers on Education: From Confucius to Dewey

By Joy A. Palmer; Liora Bresler et al. | Go to book overview

CONFUCIUS 551-479 BCE

If one loves humaneness but does not love learning, the consequence of this is folly; if one loves understanding but does not love learning, the consequence of this is unorthodoxy; if one loves good faith but does not love learning, the consequence of this is damaging behaviour; if one loves straightforwardness but does not love learning, the consequence of this is rudeness; if one loves courage but does not love learning, the consequence of this is rebelliousness; if one loves strength but does not love learning, the consequence of this is violence. 1

Confucius was the latinized name for Kong Qiu where Kong was the family name and Qiu was the given. He is often revered as Kong Fuzi, with Fuzi meaning 'master'. Confucius was born into an impoverished aristocratic family. His father was a low-level military officer. It was said that Confucius was only three when his father died and that Confucius did not even know where his father was buried.

Confucius was married at the age of 19. He accepted public employment as a storekeeper and later on as a superintendent of parks and herds. He established his private school when he was about 30 years old (522 BCE) and gradually gained his reputation for his expertise in 'rituals'. He then used his prestige to gain access to the political arena, acting as an adviser to the princes and nobility of the Kingdom of Lu as well as other neighbouring states. His political agenda was to restore the 'Zhou rituals', which meant the political and religious system established by the King of Zhou, founder of the Western Zhou dynasty 500 year earlier.

At the age of 50 (502 BCE), Confucius became an official in the Kingdom of Lu and about one year later became the Minister of Justice. He organized a campaign to weaken the power of three aristocratic clans. The campaign failed, and he lost his political future in the Kingdom of Lu. He was then a political exile in the neighbouring kingdoms for fourteen years before one of his former students, who was a high ranking official, helped him to resettle in Lu. He was then 60 years old. The next five years before his death were the most prosperous for his private school. During his lifetime, the private school he established had enrolled 3,000 students. He died in 479 BCE were he was 73.

There was no reliable evidence to point to the work written by Confucius himself. However, it is generally agreed among historians that Confucius' philosophic and educational ideas are recorded in, among others, the following so called 'Four Books'-the Analects of Confucius (Lunyu), the Book of Mencius (Mengzi), the Great Learning (Daxue), and the Doctrine of the Mean (Zhongyong). In Chinese society, prior to the twentieth century, these four classics were among the textbooks for those who planned to take the imperial examination which selected officials for the imperial government. Among these books, the Analects, a book compiled by his disciples after his death, is a collection of conversations with Confucius, containing many of his most important sayings. Contemporary historians agree that the Analects is among the most reliable for his remarks and activities. Therefore, the following will draw heavily on the Analects.

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Fifty Major Thinkers on Education: From Confucius to Dewey
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Chronological List of Contents v
  • Alphabetical List of Contents viii
  • Preface xiii
  • Confucius 551-479 Bce 1
  • Further Reading 5
  • Notes 9
  • Books on Aristotle''s Educational Ideas 20
  • Saint Augustine 354-430 25
  • John Wesley 1703-91 50
  • Kant''s Major Writings 64
  • Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel 1770-1831 84
  • John Henry Newman 1801-90 100
  • Herbert Spencer 1820-1903 120
  • Thomas Henry Huxley 1825-95 128
  • Further Reading 146
  • Alfred Binet 1857-1911 160
  • Émile Durkheim 1858-1917 165
  • Addams'' Major Writings 187
  • Notes 191
  • Harvard (1924-39) 205
  • Émile Jaques-Dalcroze 1865-1950 206
  • Martin Buber 1878-1965 239
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