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 Chinese Philosopher Dong Zhongshu -- A Contributor of Confucianism in Chinese Culture 

Chinese philosopher Dong Zhongshu (179 B. C. — 104 B. C.) is a great contributor of Confucianism in Chinese culture.


He persuaded his emperor to respect his adjusted Confucianism as the official philosophy. Since then, Confucianism has been the dominant ideology for the next 2000 years in the history of China. 

Born into a noble and rich family, Dong Zhongshu read a great deal of books and received the best education. When he was 30, he was already a famous and knowledgeable intellectual who had attracted many students.


As an excellent master, many of his students became influential and accomplished people of that time; therefore, Dong Zhongshu was assigned many important political occupations and had served some kings of the Han Dynasty.

On the year 134 B. C., Emperor Liu Che commanded to collect advanced governance ideologies.


Then Dong Zhongshu wrote a famous essay, presented his ideas and suggested to respect Confucianism as the dominant ideology of the empire, which was highly appreciated and strictly implemented by the emperor. 

Dong then was assigned some other political positions, but he resigned few years later.


Afterwards, he focused on teaching and writing, until he passed away old and sick.

Dong Zhongshu had absorbed many ideas from other philosophical schools and developed the Confucianism, which was more appreciated and suitable for the ruling class of unified feudal empires.  


Main ideas of Dong Zhongshu 

  • Great Unity is the foundation of the stability of a huge empire. That includes a centralized political system, a nationwide and dominant ideology, and well established laws and moral standard.


  • Confucianism is the best ideology for the Han Empire; therefore, the government should establish a national college which only teaches Confucianism concepts, and then select officers from excellent students of this school.  

  • Natural phenomena are reflections of human, especially the monarch’s, behaviors; that is how the heaven shows its will and judgement. 

Therefore, if emperors didn’t do a good job, they would be alerted by heaven through unpleasant natural phenomena. If they didn’t improve and change after seeing those signs, they would lose their crown in the end. 

  • Powerful clans should be limited by the central government, so the gap between rich and poor would be decreased. That way, civilians’ well being cold be better protected. 

  • The benevolence cultivation is an essential aspect of a stable society, in which law and strict penalty should only serve as supplementary means in governance.