Confucianism is something of a derivative. As a matter of fact, Confucius insisted on close adherence to Tao. However, he was pragmatic and concerned with the existential problems of man, hence he deals less with generalities and more with the practical matters of daily and personal relationships. The essence of his system of relationships is fivefold, and fundamental to his social order: ruler and subject; father and son; husband and wife; older brother and younger brother; older friend and younger friend. The ideal of conduct, ordering all human relationships and resulting in an ideal social structure and harmony is: li. A famous Confucian maxim is: "Never do to others, what you would not like them to do to you." (Golden Rule ?) His disciples later on developed ten attitudes that are to govern the five relationships: love in father and filial piety in the son; gentility in the oldest brother and humility and respect in the younger; righteous behavior in the husband and obedience in the wife; humane consideration in elders and deference in juniors; benevolence in rulers and loyalty in subjects. Confucius did not claim to be the originator of this philosophical/ethical code. Some of the ideas he claims to have derived from classical writings, but he codified them and illuminated them with his own insights and principles. Thus developed one the great and most durable ethical and social edifices in recorded time. It shaped Chinese thought and character

An excerpt from A Synopsis of the Ethics of Confucianism by Fritz G. Cohen

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