Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Social Work Theorists: Confucius


(551-479 BC). Confucius was a Chinese teacher, editor, and philosopher of the Spring and Autumn period of Chinese history. In BC 300 in China, Analects of confucius declare humans to be social beings bound to one another by Jen, a form of sympathy that is often expressed through helping those in need. Confucius came up with the theory of Confucianism. Confucianism is an ethical and philosophical system developed from his teachings. Courtesy of the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosphy (Peer-Reviewed)


The tradition that bears his name – “Confucianism” (Chinese: Rujia) – ultimately traces itself to the sayings and biographical fragments recorded in the text known as the Analects (Chinese: Lunyu). As with the person of Confucius himself, scholars disagree about the origins and character of the Analects, but it remains the traditional source for information about Confucius’ life and teaching.

Most scholars remain confident that it is possible to extract from the Analects several philosophical themes and views that may be safely attributed to this ancient Chinese sage. These are primarily ethical, rather than analytical-logical or metaphysical in nature, and include Confucius’ claim that Tian (“Heaven”) is aligned with moral order but dependent upon human agents to actualize its will; his concern for li (ritual propriety) as the instrument through which the family, the state, and the world may be aligned with Tian’s moral order; and his belief in the “contagious” nature of moral force (de), by which moral rulers diffuse morality to their subjects, moral parents raise moral children, and so forth. Courtesy of the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosphy (Peer-Reviewed)

More Information

Library / Research Resources

SOCIndex: Broad resource of scholarly research on human cultural, social, environmental and political behaviors.

National Association of Social Worker: The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) is the largest membership organization of professional social workers in the world, with 140,000 members. NASW works to enhance the professional growth and development of its members, to create and maintain professional standards, and to advance sound social policies.

Milestones in the Development of Social Work and Social Welfare: A timeline spanning 1750 BC through present. Presented by the National Association of Social Workers.

Subject Guide

Profile Photo
Thedis Bryant
J.F. Drake Memorial LRC
4900 Meridian Street
Normal, AL 35762
(256) 372-4724