Why Confucius believed that honouring your ancestors is central to social harmony

Confucius’ philosophy of ‘filial piety’ – a fervent respect for one’s parents and ancestors – is still central to Chinese society, even among those who aren’t followers of Confucianism. This brief animation from BBC Radio 4’s A History of Ideas series explores why Confucius believed that the virtue of honouring one’s predecessors was vital for a successful, harmonious society.

Video by BBC Radio 4 and The Open UniversityScript: Nigel WarburtonAnimator: Andrew Park

Support Aeon

‘I support Aeon because I support the spreading of wisdom.’

Tanner F, USA, Friend of Aeon

Aeon is a registered charity committed to the spread of knowledge and a cosmopolitan worldview.

But we can’t do it without you.

Support Aeon

Idea/Philosophy of Mind

Picture this: why mental representations evolved

Armin Schulz

Essay/Consciousness & Altered States

Caves all the way down

Do psychedelics give access to a universal, mystical experience of reality, or is that just a culture-bound illusion?

Jules Evans

Video/History of Ideas

A fanatic against fanaticism, and other pleasures of Bertrand Russell in his own words

29 minutes

Idea/Law & Justice

Children deserve leniency in law, and the reason is political

Gideon Yaffe

Essay/Ethics

Life on the slippery Earth

Aztec moral philosophy has profound differences from the Greek tradition, not least its acceptance that nobody is perfect

Sebastian Purcell

Video/History of Ideas

Sex, religion and envy – how Freud and Jung’s frenetic friendship tore itself apart

4 minutes