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Religion Library: Confucianism

Schisms and Sects

Written by: Jeffrey Richey

Early Chinese depiction of a Buddhist monk: Public DomainFollowing the collapse of the Tang dynasty in 907 C.E. and the reunification of China under the Song dynasty (960-1279 C.E.), there occurred a renaissance of Confucianism. The traditions that arose during this period of renewal often are called "Neo-Confucian" in order to distinguish them from the traditions of Confucianism's classical, imperial, and late antique periods. The renewed brand of Confucianism developed at this time led to the reformulation of the Confucian canon. By the end of the Song dynasty, it had grown beyond the Wujing to include thirteen early works (including the recorded versions of both Kongzi's and Mengzi's teachings) that were considered the reliable records of the thoughts, history, poetry, divinations, words, rituals, and deeds of the early sage rulers of China. Moreover, it was during this period of renewal that Confucianism expanded most forcefully and successfully beyond China into Vietnam, Korea, and Japan.

Study Questions:
     1.     What role did Buddhism play in the development of Confucian thought?
     2.     What role did Taoism play in the development of Confucian thought?
     3.     What accounts for Confucianism's loss of influence in the early medieval period?
     4.     What accounts for Confucianism's return to influence in the late medieval period?


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