Academic journal article Cross - Cultural Communication

Confucius' Thoughts on Moral Education in China

Academic journal article Cross - Cultural Communication

Confucius' Thoughts on Moral Education in China

Article excerpt


Confucius was the greatest philosopher and educator in Chinese history. His words and thoughts were recorded in the book The Analects of Confucius by his disciples. This paper mainly introduces Confucius' thoughts on moral education from three aspects: goal, main contents, and teaching methods. According to Confucius, cultivating a completely virtuous person ('Junzi') is the goal of moral education. The idea of benevolence ('Ren') is regarded as the core of Confucius' moral thoughts and the idea of etiquette ('Li') is the external form of 'Ren'. Both of them are main contents of Confucius' moral education. There are several teaching methods in Confucius' moral education, such as self-cultivating, individual instruction, enlightening and practice, which are described in this paper. Furthermore, some inspirations which are obtained from Confucius' moral educational thoughts provide significant reference for contemporary education in China.

Key words: Confucius' thoughts; Moral education; Junzi; Ren; Li

Confucius was born in the state of Lu (today, Shan Dong province in China) in 551 BC and died in 479 BC. He was the sage of ancient China and the greatest philosopher. He also was a thinker, political figure, educator, teacher and founder of the RU School of Chinese thoughts. His teaching formed the foundation of much of subsequent Chinese thoughts of the education and comportment of the ideal man. The Analects of Confucius is considered to be the most authentic and reliable composition of Confucius in which the reflection of his utmost thoughts and philosophy is evidence. It is a volume consisting of notes and journals on Confucius' saying and activities kept by the disciples and put together after his death. The philosophy and thoughts of Confucius and his followers had been known as Confucianism, which was considered to be the most influenced doctrine in the history of China .The doctrine has greatly influenced the Chinese thoughts and ideas in education, society, administration, governance, and behavior of individuals. Needless to say, Confucius is regarded as the spiritual ancestor of later teachers, historian, moral philosophers, literary scholars and countless others. His lives and works figured prominently in intellectual history of China. His outstanding contribution is obviously marked in the history of human thought and civilization.

Confucius emphasized on the moral values to establish a disciplined and stable society while there was prevailing a chaotic condition in social and political life of China. He introduced the concept of a moral state and a disciplined society. The moral theory is the center of Confucius' philosophy, which is the most important part of the Confucianism. Confucius thought highly on moral education in his teaching. Cultivating persons who were high qualified and virtuous was the main aim of his education. Confucius instructed his students that they should pursue 'the truth' and 'moral integrity' during all their life. And he viewed that moral education was beneficial for individual improvement, and could facilitate the development of society and the nation. Furthermore, Confucius indicated that virtues were not acquired innately, but developed through teaching and training. Confucius proposed a viewpoint 'By nature, men are nearly alike; by practice, they get to be wide apart.'(The Analects of Confucius, book 17, chapter 2) So, Confucius emphasized on moral education and cultivation of human beings to gain virtues with learning. Confucius' moral education thoughts have important practical significance for contemporary education. Chinese educators should inherit Confucius' moral education thoughts and carry on it into the education practice. Confucius' moral education thoughts even might be used for reference by other educators in the world.


The goal of Confucius' moral education is to help each person improve moral characters and behaviors to become a completely virtuous person, and perhaps prepare to get an official position in the government to be a moral governor. …

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