Wednesday, November 21, 2018
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Four Books and Five Classics

Traditional Chinese Ideology - Four Books

Four Books - came into existence before Qin Dynasty, although they were not called "Four Book" at that moment. The Analects of Confucius, one of the Four Books, is a collection of words and indeed of Confucius. The other three are Mencius, The Great Study and The Doctrines of the Mean. Mencius recorded the political thought of master Meng Ke (Mengzi) who was another prominent figure of Confucianism. The Great Study and The Doctrine of the Mean are two chapters from the core of The Records of Rites originally. They are the collection of treatises on the rules of propriety and ceremonial usage. Zhu Xi, the well-known scholar of the Southern Song Dynasties, offered elaborate comments on the two books. Together with The Analects of Confucius and Mencius, they were called The Collected Notes on Passages in the Four Books, commonly known as "Four Books". They were regarded as the elementary textbooks for Confucianism study. Five Classics refer to five ancient classics: The Book of Changes, The Book of Documents, The Book of Rites and The Spring and Autumn Annuals.

In the dynasties of Ming and Qing, the sentence from "Four Books and Five Classics" were the basis for the Imperial Examinations. Examinees had to explain them according to The Collected Notes on Passage in the Four Books. Therefore, "Four Books and Five Classics" became the most important textbooks for scholars of the time. Then the Confucius thought of "Four Books and Five Classics" became the guideline of human behavior. Further more, as the most important ancient corpus of China, it still has great influence on the current generation.

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