This person wrote four major works that were used as standard textbooks for over the next two thousand years. The "classics", as they were called, were used in standard examinations for all students
, as they were the foundations of Confucianism
, the way Chinese society
used to function, and even today, still does to a certain degree.
I read a couple of these, and I found them supremely boring, probably because I have little respect for ultra-traditional Chinese cultures being used in reality. The classics were burned in the Great Burning of the Books, which was ordered by the Qin Dynasty tyrant Qin Shihuangdi, to "cleanse China of old culture" (Cultural Revolution in 221BC?). In any case, only one copy of each four was kept in the Imperial Library. Not that it mattered, as scholars memorized all of them and put them back into print after the Han Dynasty regained power.
The four classics were:
- The Analects - A series of debates on society, with Confucius participating with his students, and a dubious character named "Superior Man". Wacky. I didn't exactly get who it was when I read it in Old Chinese, which is very annoying.
- Doctrine of the Mean - A text regarding harmony, Tao, and all that mumbo-jumbo. Not a bad read actually, if you know Old Chinese.
- The Great Learning - To be honest, I have no idea what this is. I haven't read it, but it looks like a series of blurbs of wisdom.
- Classic of Filial Piety - I absolutely hate this one. It's the ultra-traditional values of honor, respect and piety, which I find archaic. In a way, this book single-handedly resulted in the anal-retentive attitude with which the Chinese used viewed parenting. You know, beatings and all that. Oh well. Can't hate a man from over 2000 years ago now.
If interested, read them at www.zhongwen.com
. Most of it will sound like pure gibberish
to most people, but I was forced to make sense out of it for class. Other than that, it actually does gives a very good insight on old Chinese culture