Confucius was a Chinese philosopher that lived about 5 centuries BC. He is arguably one of the most influencial philosophers of all time and his philosophies still have a huge impact on Chinese culture and even (more subtly) the rest of the world. His teachings primarily surround behavioural studies and therefore relationships. Confucian teachings base themselves on five basic relationships, as follows:
1) Ruler to Subject
2) Father to Son
3) Elder Brother to Younger Brother
4) Husband to Wife
5) Friend to Friend
Apparently in all his years he didn’t seem to have time to consider women’s relationships, except that of the wife and husband. In each of these relationships, everyone has their own “role” and responsibilities to play out. He believed that if all of these roles and responsibilities were upheld as he depicted, society would be harmonious, and that it is therefore the violation of these roles that makes society unharmonious. Although not every relationship is equal, some are similar in certain aspects. For example in both relationships 3 and 4, Filial Piety is of great importance. (Filial Piety being loyalty to the family and to the male head of the household.) This philosophy still stands to some degree (varying by household and probably social class) in Chinese culture today. But the father has responsibilities as well. This relationship would be unharmonious if he did not. According to confucian belief, the father is bound by the responsibility to be fair and act in the best interest of the family, not just himself. However, Confucius believed strongly in “superiority of personal exemplification over explicit rules of behaviour.” So even though the structures of specific relationships are very important, it is more important to be an A+ person, and in that, to not only follow the strict guidelines of each relationship because that’s what society deems to be the right thing to do, but to do so because you see the sense in Confucianism and the path to harmony on an individual scale with a “one raindrop raises the sea” mentality.
Confucius coined the Golden Rule, but it didn’t translate as smoothly as we’ve made it today. His words were more similar to, “What you do not wish for yourself, do not do to others.”