Four Books and Five Classics - WikipediaThey were selected by Zhu Xi in the Song dynasty to serve as general introduction to Confucian thought, and they were, in the Ming and Qing dynasties, made the core of the official curriculum for the civil service examinations. Several of the texts were already prominent by the Warring States period. Mencius , the leading Confucian scholar of the time, regarded the Spring and Autumn Annals as being equally important as the semi-legendary chronicles of earlier periods. During the Western Han dynasty , which adopted Confucianism as its official ideology, these texts became part of the state-sponsored curriculum. It was during this period that the texts first began to be considered together as a set collection, and to be called collectively the "Five Classics". The Classic of Music is sometimes considered the sixth classic but was lost in the Burning of the Books.
Four Books and Five Classics
If it ever existed as a separated classic is not sure. Other interpretations say that the term Liujing has to be understood as the "Six Arts" like the middle-age artes liberales : the Shangshu representing royal speeches, the Chunqiu representing historiography, the Shijing representing poetry, the Yijing divining, the Liji or Yili representing rituals, and finally the Yueji as the ars musica. Not counting the "Doctrine of the Mean" and the "Great Learning", because they are both part of the Liji , the canon of thirteen classics is full. This catalogue lists many different versions of one single classic and thus shows how complicate it was to find out the orthodox version of a text and to what quarrels it eventually led. The books that were written on bamboo slips have been partially destroyed by war and other catastrophs. On the Zhengshi stone slabs, the text of the classics was incised in three different forms of characters.
At the heart of Chinese thought stand the five great classics, the traditional, time-honored works that define and originate Chinese culture and history. Chinese history, as the Chinese narrate it, blazes into existence with the great, partly divine heroes who teach the early Chinese all the arts of civilization: writing, law, architecture, art, and so on. The latter stands as the foundation of the Xia dynasty. During the various cycles of dynastic change, from the Xia to the Shang to the Zhou , the Five Classics, or the Confucian Classics even though they are not written by Confucius , were written down, or supposedly written down. These Five Classics constituted the program of learning for anyone in the upper classes, the ruling classes, or the educated classes.
The compilation of the Wujing Five Classics was a concrete manifestation of the coming of age of the Confucian tradition. The Five Classics can be described in terms of five visions: metaphysical , political, poetic, social, and historical. According to the philosophy of change, the cosmos is a great transformation occasioned by the constant interaction of yin and yang , the two complementary as well as conflicting life forces qi. The world, which emerges out of that ongoing transformation, exhibits both organismic unity and dynamism. The political vision, contained in the Shujing , presents kingship in terms of the ethical foundation for a humane government.
These texts influenced Chinese culture more than any other classics during the last six centuries of the dynastic period. The latter two were extracted from Rites. Zhu Xi wrote commentaries on these four books, reinterpreting them in the light of his syncretic approach, and used them as the foundation of his social, moral, and political philosophy. It is no exaggeration to state that the Four Books influenced Chinese culture more than any other classics during the last six hundred years of the dynastic period. The Analects contains the teachings of Confucius and advocates moral self-cultivation and rulership based on virtue. Ames, R. The Analects of Confucius: A philosophical translation.
The Five Classics and Four Books were the basis of the civil examination in imperial China and can be considered the Confucian canon. From the Han to the early Song, the Five Classics grew into thirteen classics. In the early Song, however, scholars focused on the original Five Classics again. By the mid-Song, however, the Analects, Mencius, Great Learning, and Doctrine of the Mean began gaining importance and by the early fourteenth century, the Four Book were the texts for the civil examinations. The Four Books were to be read before the Five Classics, and were to be read this way:.
Collectively called The Four Books and The Five Classics, they cover such a wide range of subjects as literature, history, philosophy, politics, economics, education, moral ethics, geology, arts, science and technology, etc. In short, they have a far-reaching influence on the way of existence, intellectual quality, moral ethics and esthetic values of the Chinese nation. They were, in the Ming and Qing Dynasties, made the core of the official curriculum for the civil service examinations. They are:. These books were compiled or edited by Confucius himself. Since most parts of it are destroyed during the Burning of the Books, the remaining sections are collected as two books in the Classic of Rites.