The Four Books and Five Classics


The Four Books and Five Classics are classics of Chinese Confucian books.

 

The Four Books

The Four Books refer to The Analects of Confucius (论语), The Mencius (孟子), The Great Learning (大学) and The Doctrine of the Golden Mean (中庸). The former two are collections of sayings and teachings of Confucius and Mencius as well as sayings of their disciples while the latter two are chapters in The Classic of Rites (礼记). Chu Hsi, a famous scholar of the Southern Song Dynasty, held that The Four Books together outlined the basic system of Confucian thoughts and constituted a better introduction to the complicated materials in the Classics, thus selecting these four texts from Classics and put them together as the Four Books. The Four Books is an abbreviation for 'The Books of the Four Philosophers?because The Analects of Confucius, The Mencius, The Doctrine of the Golden Mean and The Great Learning are respectively attributed to four great Confucian philosophers, namely Confucius, Mencius, K'ung Chi (the grandson of Confucius), Tsang Shan (a disciple of Confucius). In the Ming and Qing Dynasties the Four Books were made the core of the official curriculum for the imperial examination, which endowed them with the superior status in China.
The Analects of Confucius The Mencius The Great Learning The Doctrine of the Mean
The Analects of Confucius The Mencius The Great Learning The Doctrine of the Mean
 

The Five Classics

  The Five Classics refer to The Book of Songs (诗经), The Classic of History (尚书), The Classic of Rites (礼记), The Book of Changes (易经), and The Spring and Autumn Annals (春秋 ), all of which are said to be compiled or revised by Confucius. The Book of Songs is the earliest collection of Chinese poems and it is the source of Chinese verse and the starting point of the Chinese realistic epic.
The Book of Songs The Book of Songs

The Book of Songs serves as the most valuable and important material in the study of the Chinese language from the 11th century to the 6th century B.C.

The Classic of History (Shangshu) The Classic of History (Shangshu)

The Classic of History is a compilation of documentary records related to events in ancient China.

The Book of Changes The Book of Changes

The Book of Changes, also referred to as Zhou Yi (Book of Changes of the Zhou Dynasty), is regarded as the most preeminent among all Classics in ancient China.

Book of Rites Book of Rites

As a selected works of Yi Li (Book of Rituals), which is a classic book on the interpretation of Confucianism by the Confucian scholars during the Warring States Period to the Qin and Han Dynasties, The Book of Rites is a compilation of reference material on Confucianism.

The Spring and Autumn Annals The Spring and Autumn Annals

The Spring and Autumn Annals were the official chronicles of the states during the Pre-Qin Period, however, only that of the State of Lu covering the period from 722 BC to 481 BC survived. This book was also compiled by Confucius thereby gaining extra significance and becoming a Confucian Classic. It is also the forerunner of the "chronological style" of historiography.

Summarization of the Confucianism

 

Representatives

The representatives of Confucianism include Confucius, Mencius, Hsun Tzu, Zhu Xi etc. Confucius, the school founder, was one of the greatest thinker, educator and statesman who exerted a profound impact on the development of Chinese thoughts and culture.
Confucius Mencius Xun Zi Zhu Xi
Confucius Mencius Xun Zi Zhu Xi

Confucianism

The core thought of Confucianism is benevolence and courtesy. The former refers to promoting benevolent government policy with a people-loving heart, endowing every member of the society with the rights to live and to enjoy happiness. The latter aims to build a social morality order with the method of Zheng Mingnamely, moralization? so that social members would form stable moral recognition and moral orientation based on their own social status.Confucius put
forward benevolence, righteousness and courtesy? Mencius benevolence, righteousness, courtesy and wisdom? and Dong Zhongshu expanded it into benevolence, righteousness, courtesy, wisdom and faithfulness?which is known as Five Constant Virtues?
Confucius Righteousness Rites Wisdom Faithfulness
Benevolence Righteousness Rites Wisdom Faithfulness
 

Stories

  Mencius' Mother Moved House Three Times Mencius' Mother Cut Threads on the Loom Tyranny Is Fiercer Than a Tiger