What is Neo-Confucianism?

Bishop's Encyclopedia of Religion, Society and Philosophy

Neo-Confucianism refers to the revival of interest in various strands of Confucianism that traces back to the philosopher Kong Zi or Confucius (d. 479 BCE).

Neo-Confucianism dominated Chinese culture from the thirteenth to the nineteenth century CE but emerged earlier in the ninth century CE during the late Tang Dynasty (618-906 CE). It included a synthesis of Taoist and Buddhist elements around Confucian notions of society and governence.

Earlier Developments in Confucianism and Buddhism

It is important to view earlier developments in Confucianism and Buddhism to contextualize the rise of Neo-Confucianism.

Confucianism emerged through the philosopher Confucius of the sixth century BCE who thought of himself as carrying on a classical tradition that arose in the Xia (c. 2070-1600 BCE), Shang (c. 1600-1046 BCE), and Zhou (1046-221 BCE) kingdoms. He is said to have collected these ancient traditions and edited and transmitted them to his students who passed them on…

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