Confucianism is a philosophy, a religion, a humanistic or rationalistic religion, a way of governing or simply a way of life. Confucius lived in ancient China about 500 BC.  He considered himself a retransmitter of the values of the Zhou dynasty golden age of several centuries before.

Confucianism rests on the belief that human beings are fundamentally good and teachable, improvable, and perfectible through personal and communal endeavor, especially self-cultivation and self-creation. Confucian thought focuses on the cultivation of virtue and maintenance of ethics. Some of the basic Confucian ethical concepts and practices include “benevolence" or "humaneness") as the essence of the human being which manifests as compassion.

His main idea was that people could achieve peace by doing their duty and cooperating with society. If people rebelled, and everyone tried to do his or her own thing, then the world would be full of fighting and unhappiness. So people should obey the law, and do what the emperor and government officials told them to do. Also, people should do their duty to their parents and take good care of their children, and people should do their duty to their ancestors and to the gods.

It is the upholding of righteousness and the moral disposition to do good, how a person should properly act in everyday life according to the law of Heaven. It is the ability to see what is right and fair or the converse, in the behaviors exhibited by others. Confucianism holds one in contempt, either passively or actively, for failure to uphold the cardinal moral values of rén and .

Strictly speaking, there is no term in Chinese, which directly corresponds to "Confucianism." In the Chinese language, the character  儒 meaning "scholar" or "learned man" is generally used both in the past and the present to refer to things related to Confucianism.