Explorations in Confucian Philosophy

Explore the world of Confucianism, its foundational teachings, the ways in which it continues to shape Chinese culture and society, and how it may respond to today’s global challenges.

About The Course

Is Confucianism synonymous with Chinese culture? While it may be an overstatement to equate the two, there is little doubt that Confucianism pervades every level of Chinese culture and society. To be sure, other traditions such as Daoism and Buddhism have also left an indelible mark; nevertheless, Confucianism remains central to the shaping of the Chinese imagination. The influence of Confucianism extends beyond China to East Asia and through migration and cultural diffusion, other parts of the world. Confucianism traces its origins to the teachings of Confucius. What makes Confucius so special and what did he teach? This course will explore some of the key concepts in Confucian philosophy. Much of the discussion will centre on the Analects of Confucius, the foundational text of Confucian wisdom, although attention will also be given to the subsequent unfolding of the Confucian tradition. We will attempt to situate Confucian philosophy in its own context and to bring out its contemporary significance. Confucianism is a living tradition. Its vitality hinges on not only its continuing relevance in Chinese society but also its contribution to meeting the pressing global challenges confronting the world today. There are no prerequisites for this course.

Frequently Asked Questions

What will I gain from this course?

This course will equip you with a better understanding of the Confucian tradition and how it has shaped Chinese society and culture over the centuries. It should help broaden your perspective in reflecting on fundamental questions of ethics and culture, which are of critical importance to today’s globalized and technology-driven world.

Do I need to know Chinese to take this course?

No, knowledge of the Chinese language is not necessary. Some key Chinese terms will be introduced, but they do not require prior knowledge of Chinese.


What do I need to take this class?

All you need is a computer with an internet connection, the time to read, reflect, write, and discuss with your peers.


Will I earn a certificate of completion?

Yes, students who successfully complete this course will receive a Statement of Accomplishment.


Recommended Background

None; anyone who has an interest in Chinese culture and philosophy is welcome to take this course.