What Are the Basic Principles of Confucianism?

The two main principles that form the base for Confucianism are Jen and Li. However, it is important to note there are six basic principles in Confucianism, and Jen and Li are the two most prominent.

The six principles that many recognize in Confucianism are:

  • Jen
  • Jen means humane, or humanity. This is to include what makes man distinctively human rather than classifying among the other animals. It includes the sense of dignity that it given to all living things, and the respect given to human things.
  • Li
  • Li is considered the principle of gain, such as why people will actively seek out personal relationships and what people gain from society as a whole. The idea is to consider what does each person, individually and as a group, gain when they interact with one another.
  • Yi
  • Righteousness or the moral obligation to do good. This includes the ability to know and recognize what is right and wrong, and the ability to feel what is right and wrong.
  • Hsiao
  • In this, parents should be revered, respected and honored since they created the being in question. Bringing honor to the family and revering someone who has brought honor to you.
  • Chih
  • Moral wisdom and knowledge of things right and wrong.
  • Te
  • The authority by which men are in charge, the moral guidelines they set. For instance, government is a good thing if it can maintain economic sufficiency, military satisfaction and trust of the people.