Chinese Philosophy are indigenous ideologies that had formed and developed in history, which mainly describe interpersonal relations.
Many great ideologists proposed and developed their ideas, some of which soon formed as influential schools.
Taoism was formed after Lao Zi finished the masterpiece Tao Te Ching, which talks about the function of the whole universe and how human should perfectly fit in.
Key Words: Feel and Conform
Important Figures: Lao Zi, Zhuang Zi
Founded by Confucius, an ideology that is in respect to self-cultivation and social ethics.
Key Words: Benevolence and Hierarchy
Established by Mo Zi, was more of a huge chivalrous organization that represents civilians, and values equality and ability.
Key Words: Equal and Peace
An ideology that believes a well established legal system is the most efficient and best way to govern a country.
Key Words: Autocracy and Unification
It combined ideology of Yin and Yang, Five Elements (metal, wood, water, fire and earth) and math, trying to explain natural phenomena and to predict the objective world.
Key Words: Cosmology and Astronomy
Represented by Sun Zi, the writer of The Art of War. It is a system in respect to training of soldiers and tactics of wars, which includes a series of theories discussing how to win in battlefields.
Key Words: Fight and Win
School of Name
This included some logicians and dialecticians, trying to discuss and figure out the difference between “Name” and “Fact” and their relations.
Key Words: Logic and Speculation
They were the earliest Machiavellian diplomatists in Chinese history, who analyzed political circumstances and made strategies for kings, by all means, in order to reach their specific goals: to form or break national alliances, to save or attack other kingdoms.
Key Words: Lobby and Diplomacy
Important Figures: Fan Ju
Atheistic and Practical Chinese Philosophy
Most of those Chinese philosophical schools are atheistic, or at least encourage people to stay away from celestial beings or ghosts.
What they respect are hard working, contributive ancestors, and those practical principles that make people, society and their kingdom better.
Therefore, these great philosophers all described what their ideal societies look like, how they function, and how decent people would study and behave.
Development History of Chinese Philosophy
Dominant Ideology Schools
All of those Philosophical Schools were formed and popularized in the Spring & Autumn and Warring States Period (770 B. C. — 221 B. C.).
Afterwards, history of Chinese philosophy stepped into a stage when the ruling classes set an official ideology.
In the year 134 B. C., Emperor Wudi of Han accepted suggestion from Confucianist Dong Zhognshu, and made Dong’s adjusted Confucianism as the dominant ideology of the Han Empire. In the meanwhile, other schools and their ideas were suppressed and excluded.
Since then, the new Confucianism, which includes Great Unification, Divine Right of Kings, and Harmony Between Human & Nature, became the orthodox ideology for the next 2000 years in Chinese history.
Formation of the Taoism Religion
Around the period (around 147 — 581) when the Han Dynasty declined, ended, and the whole of the nation was divided into several kingdoms, the ruling class was exclusively the aristocracy.
Therefore, many intelligent, well educated people tried to stay away from politics and endless wars, while paying their attention to self cultivation, self release and art.
The Taoism Religion, which apotheosized Taoism Philosophy, absorbed theory from the School of Yin-Yang, and included a complete system of Alchemy and pursuing of immortal, was formed and popularized.
Soon, it became one of the most influential religions in Chinese culture.
At the same time, Buddhism was imported and spread quickly.
Fusion of Confucianism, Taoism Religion and Buddhism
During this period, the Imperial Examination was invented and widely applied, which allows intelligent people to participate in politics and join the ruling class because of their talent.
In this unified, prosperous era, Confucianists were able to realize their political dreams.
In the meantime, emperors of the Tang Dynasty respected Lao Zi (also named Li Er) as their honorable ancestor (since they have the same family Li) and the Taoism Religion as National Religion, while Empress Wu Zetian highly respected Buddhism.
Since then, Confucianism, Taoism Religion and Buddhism gradually fused with each other.
New Stage of Confucianism
In the Song Dynasty (960 — 1279), Taoism was still respected as the national religion; some of the emperors were quite enthusiasts.
Then Confucianists during this period absorbed some theories that were in respect to the formation of the universe from Taoism Religion and Buddhism, and opened up a new chapter of Confucianism.
Until about 300 years later, Wang Yangming proposed the School of Mind, which challenged Zhu Xi’s theory. However, they were still the internal conflicts of Confucianism.
Therefore, in the Yuan and Ming Dynasty (1271 — 1644), the official philosophy was new Confucianism, while the national religion was Taoism.
However, the Confucianism, which honors great unification and loyalty, still remained as official philosophy.