His teachings, later collected in the Analects, went on to form the basis of Chinese statecraft, starting in the Han dynasty and lasting until the overthrow of the empire in 1912. They continue to be very influential in China and surrounding countries, such as South Korea, Japan, and Vietnam, to the point where Samuel Huntington referred to most of East Asia (excluding Japan) as the "Confucian Civilization".
His philosophy was founded on keeping harmony via hierarchy. He emphasized moral righteousness as coming from study and accepting one's roles in the "Five Relationships", which were:
- King - servant
- Parent - child
- Husband - wife
- Older sibling - younger sibling
- Friend - friend
Only the last one did not contain an implicit hierarchy.
Of the three pillars of Chinese thought, Confucianism was considered the one most important for public events and the public persona. By contrast, Taoism was for private life, while Buddhism was for the afterlife. The Confucian emphasis on social conformity, obligations and respect for authority remain strong forces in East Asian societies.
 Confucianism as religion
Confucianism is sometimes identified as a religion, and the existence of temples to Confucius in China and other East Asian countries would seem to support this. However, Confucian philosophy does not explicitly contain concepts usually associated with religions, such as supernatural explanations and holy rituals, and is equally compatible with religious beliefs such as Taoism, Buddhism and Shinto, or with secular world views such as communism. Maoism is sometimes interpreted as a blend of Marxism and Confucianism.
Traditionally, Confucianism sees religious practice as beneficial to society. Confucianism exists in the context of a long tradition of Chinese folk religion that regards deceased family members as the most accessible functionaries in a vast celestial bureaucracy, and Confucius himself as well as later Confucian thinkers encouraged participation in folk religious practices. The concept of "ritual propriety" (Li), meaning that an individuals interactions are in accordance with traditional mores, was cited as the most important virtue by the Confucian thinker Xunzi (313-238 BCE). This emphasis causes Confucianism to trend strongly conservative, and so traditional Confucianism greatly encourages religious practice. More modern thinkers who have been heavily influenced by Maoism frequently reject religion, but as Confucianism itself makes no explicitly supernatural claims this rejection is still generally considered orthodox.