Chinese philosophy

The Chinese philosophy was a philosophical period and a system of beliefs developed during the time called The Hundred Schools of Thought . It was formed by a group of important thinkers who managed to create their schools of philosophy during the Spring and Autumn Period between 772 and 476 BC and during the period that corresponded to the States of War between 481 and 221 BC after the decline of the Zhou Dynasty began to take place .

What is Chinese philosophy?

The Chinese philosophy is a group of several schools of thought that thanks were formed to contributions from several Chinese thinkers who focused on humanism rather than spiritualism in rationalism rather than mysticism and the syncretism as an opposite thought sectarianism .

  • What does it consist of
  • Characteristics of Chinese philosophy
  • History
  • Stages of Chinese philosophy
  • Main topics
  • Problems of Chinese philosophy
  • Schools
  • Representatives
  • Importance

What does it consist of

The philosophy of China is a series of thoughts that were established by several schools of thought that were created over several historical stages . It can be said that it was the sum total of all the philosophical schools that were founded in the place and it was a period that was characterized by great cultural and intellectual developments .

Characteristics of Chinese philosophy

The main characteristics of Chinese philosophy are mentioned below:

  • Chinese philosophy is more about practice rather than reflection .
  • It was considered as a way of life.
  • It was a philosophy that was primarily directed at action .
  • He gave special importance to the Tao and universal love.
  • It was influenced by the Book of Changes or Changes, a book considered fundamental in Chinese thought.
  • They used ying and yang to symbolize the events of the universe.
  • They believed in epistemological optimism .
  • They saw man as part of nature .
  • They believed that the true purpose of philosophy was to be a guide to morals and practice .


The history of Chinese philosophy was born with a series of doctrines that emerged at the beginning of the first millennium . Around the 7th and 5th centuries , Chinese thinkers had already begun to teach the connection that existed between the elements : fire, water, metal, wood and earth and how these affected and influenced the diversity of phenomena and things. With the passage of time, several capital principles were elaborated that founded the doctrines and on the opposing forces that were at the same time linked, theyin and yang.

Stages of Chinese philosophy

Chinese philosophy can be divided into several stages. The first of these is known as the Classical Stage and was established in 1027 BC . until 221 BC It arose as a result of a stage of great political and social upheaval where feudal states that had been subordinate for a long time managed to take power and military and economic force in the search for independence . It was the stage in which Confucius and important schools such as Taoism excelled .

The second stage was known as the Medieval Stage and took place between the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD with the fall of the Han dynasty , causing a break in politics and also a foreign invasion . The Confucianism had collapsed and that was when Taoism originated and Buddhism as new Chinese philosophical currents that sought to reconcile the teachings of the philosopher to social responsibility. It was the time of Buddhism and great philosophical thinkers.

The fourth stage was the Syncretic Period where the Sui dynasty and Tang dynasty were reunited . Schools such as Taoism , Buddhism, and resurgent Confucianism were highlighted , and political and social philosophies were established that suited the centralist empire. It was then possible to reestablish the foundation of Confucius and it was a time in which due to the growth of the church , it caused the persecution of Taoists and Buddhists until they could no longer resist.

Finally there was the Modern Stage in which three very important schools were founded, the School of Principle better known as Rationalism , the School of the Mind known as Idealism and the School of Practical Knowledge that was also called Empiricism . All these schools have had a special influence on current philosophy.

Main topics

There were three main themes that were part of Chinese philosophy, these were:

  • The methods to be able to discover the truth .
  • The nature of the human being .
  • The relationship that existed between principle and matter .

Problems of Chinese philosophy

Chinese philosophy had some problems during its development. Some of them addressed issues related to logic , epistemology and language seen from the philosophical point of view. There were also several problems related to religion especially when the church began to take more power in the region.


In Chinese philosophy there were many important and representative schools, these were:

  • Confucianism : this school was founded thanks to Confucius . He believed that human beings were essentially good but that due to a lack of solid moral foundations they deviated from the path. For him, individual morality was important as well as the ways to be able to adhere to it. He gave importance to the ritual to build a strong character which would lead to create a moral , stable and solid state which in the end would generate prosperity and happiness
  • Taoism : for this school, the laws , rituals and rules were of greater importance. They believed that criminals were formed because the more rules that existed, the more likely they were to be broken. They did not give importance to the ceremonies or rites of Confucius because for them, the only relevant thing was the Tao ( force ), which was also the only one responsible for creating the world . They encouraged individuals to have the same feelings and compassion in order to become “good people.”
  • Legalism : this philosophical school ensured that men only acted for their own interest and that they also needed a series of strict laws that could control their impulses and bad behavior . It was founded by Han Feizi and promoted that the only defense that existed against chaos was punishment for all who did not adhere to the law.
  • Mohismo : It was founded by Mo Ti and was based on universal love as the only means to improve as an individual and with the community. They believed that man’s actions were responsible for determining who was good and who was bad . They wanted all the rulers to be treated as family and to put aside the search for power but their theories were not heard.
  • Ying-Tang: This school was known as the School of Naturalists and was founded by Zou Yan. They taught that all things were always in a state of flux and that this was what the natural world explained . They claimed that life was a transfer between yin and yang which caused union.
  • Agrarianism : they established an egalitarian philosophy that ensured that social classes could lead to oppression and that all individuals including kings had to work the land in order to obtain benefits.


The main representatives of Chinese philosophy are mentioned below:

  • Lao Tzu (between the 6th and 5th centuries BC)
  • Confucius (551-479 BC)
  • Shang Yang (390-338 BC)
  • Mozi (468-about 391 BC)
  • Mencius (372-289 BC)
  • Deng Xiaoping (1904-1997)
  • Zhu Xi (1130-1200)


Chinese philosophy is a very important branch of philosophy because it teaches the best way in which men can behave in a noble way in present times which are full of bellicosity. All the teachings that were established at the time of this philosophy, have exerted an important influence on all other philosophical currents that have been created. Topics such as fidelity , sincerity , honesty , justice and righteousness were aspects that emerged and were very important during this time and continue to influence today .

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