Describe the origins and historical development of Confucianism in China up to the present day.
The history of Chinese civilisation spans thousands of years and encompasses countless ideas, beliefs, societal, and political doctrines. For the past two thousand years, the teachings of Confucius have been the basic fundamentals and origins of the entire Confucian Thought System and the behavioural patterns of his followers. However, Confucius himself only adapted several ideas from the ancient dynasties that ruled China, and focused on these practices as his core beliefs. After Confucius, two main Schools of Thought formed; those who chose to follow the adapted teachings of Mancius; and those who adopted those of Hsun-Tzu. Following the development of these two Schools, Neo-Confucianism took a stronghold in China, blending together the old ways of Confucius with the moral teachings of Buddhism.
Before endeavouring to understand Confucianism and its connection with China, it is necessary to develop an understanding of China in its pre-Confucius era, in which the philosophy evolved. The most ancient evidence of Chinese religions dates back to the Shang dynasty, around 1500 BCE. In this early society, there is evidence of some of the basic fundamentals of most Chinese religious thought; the pursuit, establishment, maintenance, and enjoyment of harmony in the Earthly world. During the Zhou dynasty (1122-771 BCE), the path initiated by the Shang was sustained and expanded upon. The Zhou quest for harmony and order led to the development of some extremely crucial concepts that would directly effect the development of Confucianism. In this era also, the notion of Tian - best understood as Heaven - first came to light. This later led to the conception of the idea of the Mandate of Heaven (Tian-Ming), from which rulers derived all power and sense of legitimacy, due to the accordance of their behaviours with the norms of morality and ritual correctness.