Confucius: Becoming the Sage
Perhaps the most famous Chinese person in history, Confucius was the philosopher and ethicist who advocated a path of calmness in the midst of social turmoil.
If there were a competition for most famous Chinese in history, Confucius (551-479 BCE) would surely come out on top. He was the philosopher and ethicist who has given China a significant part of its cultural DNA. Confucius lived during a period of immense political turmoil, and turned his mind to thinking about how the country could be made calmer and more prosperous. Instead of advocating force, Confucius stressed the importance of rituals and ethical behaviour. It was important to behave in an ordered way; subjects should obey rulers, wives their husbands, children their parents. In his own time, Confucius didn't have much luck in propagating his thought in his lifetime. But over the next few centuries, respect for his work grew. For two thousand years, Confucian thought would dominate Chinese statecraft. Even today, with the Communist Party in charge, there are frequent references in contemporary China to Confucian ideas such as harmony.
Presenter: Rana Mitter
Producer: Ben Crighton
Researcher: Elizabeth Smith Rosser.