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Four Books and Five Classics
Confucianism: The Four Books and Five Classics
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.
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:. Throughout imperial China, the Confucian canon changed dramatically see Versions of the Canon but the following is a brief description of the various writings. Online translations are provided, when possible.
The Nine Classics
They 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.