Confucianism is a term with various definitions: a religion, a philosophy, an ideological and sociocultural tradition, or simply an all-encompassing way of thinking and living. There is no exact correspondent in the Chinese language for Confucianism, a Western term to provide an umbrella concept for ideas and practices of the tradition initiated by Confucius (孔子551–479 BCE). The Confucian tradition is known in Chinese as the Ru (儒) tradition; the Chinese character “儒” has its origin in the ancient ritual priesthood and stands for learned, scholar, or refined man. Some researchers prefer the use of Ru and Ruism rather than Confucian and Confucianism in Western languages. So far, however, Confucian and Confucianism remain the terms used by most, within and without academia.

Whether Confucianism is a religion has ...

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