The Four Books
The Four Books and Five Classics are the authoritative books of Confucianism in China written before 300 BC.
Originally one chapter in the Classic of Rites. It consists of a short main text attributed to Confucius and nine commentary chapters by Zeng Zi, one of Confucius’s disciples. Its importance is illustrated by Zeng Zi’s foreword that this is the gateway of learning.
It is significant because it expresses many themes of Chinese philosophy and political thinking, and has therefore been extremely influential both in classical and modern Chinese thought. Government, self cultivation and investigation of things are linked.
Doctrine of the Mean
Another chapter in Classic of Rites, attributed to Confucius‘grandson Zisi. The purpose of this small, 33 chapter book is to demonstrate the usefulness of a golden way to gain perfect virtue. It focuses on the Way that is prescribed by a heavenly mandate not only to the ruler but to everyone. To follow these heavenly instructions by learning and teaching will automatically result in a Confucian virtue. Because Heaven has laid down what is the way to perfect virtue, it is not that difficult to follow the steps of the holy rulers of old if one only knows what is the right way.
A compilation of speeches by Confucius and his disciples, as well as the discussions they held. Since Confucius’s time, the Analects has heavily influenced the philosophy and moral values of China and later other East Asian countries as well. The Imperial examinations, started in the Jin Dynasty and eventually abolished with the founding of the Republic of China, emphasized Confucian studies and expected candidates to quote and apply the words of Confucius in their essays.
A collection of conversations of the scholar Mencius with kings of his time. In contrast to the sayings of Confucius, which
are short and self-contained, the Mencius consists of long dialogues with extensive prose.
The Five Classics are five ancient Chinese books used in Confucianism as the basis of studies. These books, or parts of them, were either commented, compiled, or edited by Confucius himself.
Classic of Poetry
A collection of 305 poems divided into 160 folk songs, 105 festal songs sung at court ceremonies, and 40 hymns and eulogies sung at sacrifices to gods and ancestral spirits of the royal house.
Book of Documents
A collection of documents and speeches alleged to have been written by rulers and officials of the early Zhou period and before. It is possibly the oldest Chinese narrative, and may date from the 6th century BC. It includes examples of early Chinese prose.
Book of Rites
Describes ancient rites, social forms and court ceremonies. The version studied today is a reworked version compiled by scholars in the third century BC rather than the original text, which is said to have been edited by Confucius himself. Classic of Changes Also known as I Ching or Book of Changes. The book contains a divination system comparable to Western geomancy or the West African Ifá system. In Western cultures and modern East Asia, it is still widely.