The Hundred Schools of Ancient Philosophy

The Hundred Schools of Ancient Philosophy

The Development of Confucianism, Legalism, & Daoism

The Hundred Schools of Ancient Philosophy was an era in which there was great cultural and intellectual expansion in China. This era last from 770 to 222 B.C.E. and many of the great Chinese classic texts originated during this period and have had profound influences on Chinese lifestyle and social consciousness lasting to the present day. Specific schools of thought originating during this area include Confucianism, Legalism and Daoism. These schools of thought are still around today and have had a profound influence on Chinese society.

Confucianism was founded by a wandering scholar, Master Kung, who became well known in the late sixth century B.C.E. This was a period of time when commoners where struggling to deal with the oppressive nature of the government and although his ideas came hundreds of years ago, “Some of his ideas are strikingly modern in their thrust. Among them is the revolutionary proposition that government depends on the will of the people.” (Duiker, W. J., & Spielvogel, J. J., 2013). In contrast to this, around the same time Legalism was a newly formed school of thought, disagreeing in that, “human nature was essentially good, the Legalists argued that human beings were by nature evil and would follow the correct path only if coerced by harsh laws and stiff punishments.” Legalists believed that only through harsh punishment and material rewards would people conform to laws in order to have a productive society.

Daoism was also a popular school of thought that was more similar to Confucianism. Similarly to Confucianism, Daoism aims to provide correct ways for humans to act while on earth rather than determining the meaning of life. The main difference between these two schools of thought is that Confucianism is based on action while Daoism is founded upon inaction. This was more of a spirituality than a religion but had a profound impact on Chinese culture. All of these schools of thought were important in developing and achieving a sense of meaning among Chinese culture and influenced passivity or aggression of civilization.


Duiker, W. J., & Spielvogel, J. J. (2013). The Essential World History Vol I: To 1800 (Vol. 1). Boston, MA: Cengage.

Photo by Bird Liang on Unsplash


Triola Vincent. Mon, Mar 01, 2021. The Hundred Schools of Ancient Philosophy Retrieved from https://vincenttriola.com/blogs/ten-years-of-academic-writing/the-hundred-schools-of-ancient-philosophy

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