The classics of Confucianism are four books and five
scriptures. The four books are the Analects, Mencius, The Higher Education, and The
Doctrine of the Mean. The five scriptures are The Book of Poetry (Shih), Book of History
(Shu), Book of Changes (Yi), Book of Rites (Li), and Spring and Autumn Annals
(Ch'un-Ch'iu). Most people use the five scriptures as the material they teach, while the
four books record the opinions and the theories of Confucius.
The Doctrine of the Mean mostly describe the philosophy and thoughts of Confucianism. This is the best source of information if you want to learn about the Confucian philosophies. It is thought that Tzu-si, the grandchild and the teacher of Mencius, wrote this book. The Higher Education is the first book of the four book, and it is also the first book children have to study when they go to school. The Doctrine of the Mean and the Higher Education is very useful for the children if they memorize them in their early years. The Higher Education talks about the individual relationships and the order of the world, which means the relationship between ethics and politics.
Only seven chapter of Mencius have names, but the writing of Mencius is better than the Analects. The people in the Han dynasty think that the author of Mencius is Mencius. After the research of the scholars now, they think that a student of Mencius wrote this book and Mencius edited a part of it. The book Mencius explains the philosophies of Confucius very well. The main theory of Mencius is that human nature is good, and the most important purpose of education is to prevent the good nature being affected by the environment. The Analects is a book of quotations of Confucius talking with his students or other people. It is written by Confucius' students. Twenty of the chapter have names. The Analects are little disordered because they are simply a collection of quotes from Confucius which do not mention when, where, why , who, and the events afterwards. Therefore, it is very hard to understand what is meant. The Analects is not a good book to begin the study of Confucius with. The Analects takes time to read and an attempt must be made to understand every word and every sentence in the book. It must be remembered that Confucius did not speak only of aphorisms.
The Book of Poetry contains more than three hundred poems which is the oldest Chinese poetry. Confucius asked his students to memorize them and he also used them in his teaching because he thought that if you didn't know poetry, you didn't know how to speak. Confucius believed that poetry would help you to understand the truth, promote unity between people, and promote a better understanding of nature. The Book of Rites talks primarily about the proper form of ceremonies, and is also the handbook fort the emperor's court. There are three parts of the Book of Rites. The first is the Rites of Zhou, it describes the government system of the Zhou dynasty. The second is Ceremony, it contains the rules of events in the life of the upper-class. The third is the Book of Rites, which is also the longest part of the book. It provides information about the government regulations and instructions on how to manage some casual events.
The Book of History contains the Chinese history from the earliest times when the emperors brought the tools of civilization to the Chinese, through Xia, Shang, and the early Zhou dynasties. Chinese consider history to be very important because by studying the past, we can learn lessons which are useful in the present. Spring and Autumn Annals is a journal of the events that happened in Confucius' hometown, Lu from 722 B.C.E. to 481 B.C.E. The Book of Changes is a book of divination that foretells the future events and understands the human existence and natural occurrences. When the early Confucian scholars were bothered by the ethical and political problems, the Book of Changes provided a key to the answers of the universe.