Confucian Approaches to Religious Diversity

  • Yao Xinzhong


Diverse beliefs, practices, and customs of a religious nature existed in the earliest recorded history in China, and the ways to cope with or deal with the diversity were explicitly or implicitly explored and expanded in Confucian texts. Religious beliefs and practices in the Shang (1600(?)-1045(?) BCE) were themselves a mixture from different parts or tribes of the empire that were then absorbed by, or merged into, the ones brought forward by the newly established Western Zhou dynasty (1045(?)–771 BCE). The periods of the Spring and Autumn (770–479 BCE) and the Warring States (479–221 BCE) saw intensive debate and mutual transformation among different schools of thought that were sponsored or patronized by different political authorities, either at the state or the powerful family level. As far as religious institutions are concerned, however, none of these so-called schools constituted an independent religious system. In this sense, we can safely say that religious diversity in its full-blown form did not become a critical issue in China until after the arrival of Buddhism in the Later Han dynasty (25–220 CE).


Chinese Philosophy Religious Diversity Chinese Tradition Confucian Classic Confucian Scholar 
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© Perry Schmidt-Leukel and Joachim Gentz 2013

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  • Yao Xinzhong

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