25 famous Chinese philosophers and thinkers

famous Chinese philosophers


When you talk about Chinese school of Philosophy, Confucius is the first name that comes to mind. Beside, Confucius there are many other famous Chinese philosophers that people must know. So today, you will be reading about some of the greatest Chinese thinkers of the history. You will also be reading about their work.

Top 25 famous Chinese philosophers or thinkers

1. Confucius


Our greatest glory is not in falling, but rising everytime we fall.


Confucius is undoubtedly the most famous Chinese philosophers in the history. He is one of the best philosophers in the World. Many famous Chinese thinkers belong to the Confucian School of thought.

10 Famous Confucius sayings that would inspire you

  1. Our greatest glory is not in falling, but rising everytime we fall.
  2. Wherever you go, go with all your heart.
  3. Life is very simple, but we insist on making it complicated.
  4. Everything has a beauty, but not everyone sees it.
  5. Silence is a true friend, who never betrays.
  6. Only the wisest and the stupidest of men never change.
  7. By three methods we may learn wisdom: first, by reflection, which is the noblest; second by imitation, which is the easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.
  8. If you make a mistake and do not correct it, this is called a mistake.
  9. Funniest people are the saddest ones.
  10. Study the past, if you would define the future.

2. Laozi

Laozi is also a famous Chinese philosophers from the 6th century. He is the founder of the Taoism, religious Chinese deity. He emphasizes simplicity and humility as key virtues of humanity. His teachings depict that we must avoid wars and conflicts. People must be treated in a humble way. In political terms it means that government should not imply heavy taxes on the people of the state.

10 famous Laozi sayings you should know

  1. Lies cannot exist without truth. But truth exists by itself.
  2. The usefulness of plot comes from its emptiness.
  3. A journey of thousand miles starts under one’s feet.
  4. When you realized there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.
  5. Those who know do not say. And those who say do not know.
  6. Try to change and you will ruin it. Try to hold it and you will lose it.
  7. When people see some things are beautiful, other things become ugly. When people see something as good, other things become bad.
  8. The more that laws and regulations are given prominence, the more thieves and robbers will be.
  9. The best people are like water, which benefits all things and does not compete with them. It stays in lowly places that others reject. This is why it is so similar to the Way.
  10. A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving.


Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.

Confucius is undoubtedly the most famous Chinese philosophers in the history. He is recognized as one of the best philosophers in the World. Many Chinese thinkers have opted the Confucian School of thought.

3. Mencius


Friendship is one mind in two bodies.

Mencius is one of the most famous Chinese philosopher. He was born in the State of Zou. He is a Confucian, pupil of Zisi, grandson of Confucius. Mencius pinpoint the goodness of one’s heart. One can only find goodness in one’s heart. Morality and human nature were the main subjects of Mencius teachings.

He who exerts his mind to the utmost knows his nature.

4. Zhu Xi


One must have cultivated the inner root daily, so that one’s mind is sensitive, perspicacious, pure, and integrated.

Zhu Xi was a confucian, a leading figure of the school of principle. His studies focus on the four books of Chinese philosophy. That is the Great Learning, the Doctrine of the Mean, the Analects of Confucius, and the Mencius. He defined li as a part of our moral character. Every person in the universe has a perfect li. That means there is goodness in every person of the universe. Qi is the immoral character of human. One who can control his qi is the perfect person by one’s nature.

5. Wang Yangming

The virtue of man lies in his ability to correct his mistakes and continually make a new man of himself.

Wang Yangming is a neo-confucian philosopher from the Ming dynasty. His idea of human nature comes from the innate knowledge in every person. Every one of us know the difference between good and evil. Whether a child or an adult, know what is good or bad from him or herself. He depicted that objects can’t exist solely on their own without our mind defining them. It is our mind that defines the shapes of the objects. So it is our mind that gives meaning to the world around us.

6. Xun Kuang

In order to properly understand the big picture, everyone should fear becoming mentally clouded and obsessed with one small section of truth.

Xu Kuang was a Confucian but his approach was a little different from the others. He rejected the idea of innate goodness by Mencius. However, goodness still can be achieve by learnings and rituals. He was the mentor of the Qin Chancellor, Li Fei. He also mentored Han Fei, Chancellor of the Qin dynasty.

7. Sun Tzu

Know thy self, know thy enemy. A thousand battles, a thousand victories.

Sun Tzu was a Chinese general, military strategist, and a philosopher from the Spring and Autumn Period of China. He was the author of the book, the art of war. His book addresses the philosophy of war. That means, how to handle conflicts, make allies, strategies, and winning wars on the battlefield.

8. Han Fei

The intelligent ruler makes the law selects men, and makes no arbitrary appointment himself; he makes the law measure merits and makes no arbitrary judgment himself.

Han Fei with the pupil of the famous Chinese philosopher, Xun Kuang. He was in agreement with the idea of his teacher that human are “virtueless by nature”. People can only change their nature by learning or religious rituals. People consifer Han Fei as the founder of Chinese legalism.
9. Zheng Xuan

Zheng Xuan was born in Weifang, Shandong province of China. He tried to bridge the gap between the two Chinese rival schools of thoughts, i.e. the Old texts and the new school Confucianism. However, his studies were rejected by the officials of Han dynasty. Later, Ruan Yuan commemorate and rebuilt the shrine of Zheng Xuan .

10. Zisi

Zisi was the grandson of the famous Chinese thinker, Confucius. He transmitted the teachings of his grandfather to his pupil, Mencius. His ideas incorporate self-education, tolerance, and sincerity while dealing with other people around us.

11. Mozi

To accomplish anything whatsoever one must have standards. None have yet accomplished anything without them.

Mozi was the founder of the school of Mohism. Self reflection, authenticity, and self-restraint in are the main subjects of his teachings. His ideas were strictly against the confucianism and taoism school of thoughts.

13. Guan Zhong

It is a general truism of this world that anything long divided will surely unite, and anything long united will surely divide.

Guan Zhong was also one of the most famous Chinese thinkers. He was a legalist in his approach. He stresses courtesy while dealing with public as a way of getting things done. It was his teachings that lead Huan assemble feudal lords meeting without use of war chariots. He brought order and unity to the Huan dynasty.

14. Feng Youlan

Feng Youlan brought classical Chinese philosophy of Confucius to the modern era. He was the author of History of Chinese Philosophy. His book discusses the classical Chinese philosophy in a western fashion. He died on November 26, 1990 in Beijing.

15. Li Si

Li Si was the legalist, writer, and a politician. He was the student of Xun Kuang, Chinese thinker and Philosopher.

16. Shang Yang

The stupid don’t even understand something that happened long ago, the wise understand it before it develops.

Shang Yang was born during the Qin dynasty. He emphasizes one standard in every state matters. Whether the ruler or the common public, both will receive the same reward or punishment. He also helped in introducing land reforms in the state of Qin.

17. Zhang Zai

Wealth and honor, benefits and blessings shall enrich my life; poverty and failures, grief and anxiety shall help fulfill it. In my life, I will serve heaven and earth; in death I will find peace.

Zhang Zai is another one of the famous Chinese philosophers of the history. He introduced Qi as the primal substance in everything in the universe. Qi is invisible but it can condenses to solid or liquid. It is a vital force, substantial to everything in the universe. Humility was the main subject of his teaching. Humbleness and sympathy should be practice in routine matters.

18. Zou Yan

Zou Yan was a famous Chinese philosopher, alchemist, astrologer, politician, geographer, and naturalist. He came from the state of Qi (Shandong). He was the founder of the five element theory, i.e. wood, fire, earth, metal, and water.

19. Dong Zhongshu

The standard of humaneness lies in loving others and not in loving the self. The standard of rightness lies in rectifying the self and not in rectifying others.

Dong Zhongshu was a Confucian who favored the five element theory. He theorized original five elements theory and the development of Chinese history over time.

20. Wang Fuzhi
Wang Fuzhi was a follower of Confucius and neo-confucian school of thought. He was also the author of several books in different subject. He mainly discussed on the topics of metaphysics, epistemology, politics, and poetry. According to his philosophy, humans are good by nature. We have the tendency to adapt and learn from our mistakes or evil deeds.

21. Wang Chong

Wang Chong was an ancient Chinese philosopher, astrologer, and thinker. He theorized the idea of water cycle. Wang was strictly against the religious concepts of Taoism and Confucianism. He was also a great astronomer of the Chinese ancient era.
22. Mou Zongsan
Mou Zongsan was a neo-Confucian from the Shandong district. He was also a great fan of German philosopher, Immanuel Kant. According to Mou, human can inherit the same intellectual institution as God. Moral-metaphysics was the main subject of Mou Zongsan.

23. Sun Yat-sen

The key to success is action, and the essential in action is perseverance.

Sun Yat-Sen was the revolutionary and founding father of the Republic of China. Father of the Nation, Sun Yat-sen was also a writer, physician, calligrapher, and political philosopher. He developed the idea of Three Principles of the People.

24. Xiong Shili

A New Treatise on Consciousness was the main work of Xiong Shili, Chinese philosopher from the 12th century. He revived Confucianism in the 20th century. Because he felt that people need harmony, unity, and strength in such a state of turmoil, especially after the May fourth movement in 1919. .
25. Wang Bi
Wan Bi was one of the famous Chinese philosophers of the Three Kingdom era. His famous work was the commentary on the Tao Te Ching text of the Laozi, Chinese Philosopher and thinker. He also served as a minor bureaucrat in the state of Cao Wei of the Three Kingdom period.

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