The 500 years period in the kingdom lasting from 722 to 221 BC is separated into two almost equal parts: Spring and Autumn period and Warring States period. These periods were marked by a great number of wars, smaller local ones in Spring and Summer period, and massive wars in Warring States period. Nevertheless, these periods also show a remarkable development of culture, education and philosophy; it is important to realize that the prevalence of noble class in culture in literature was broken then.
There were many prominent thinkers in this period of history, the main of them being Confucius, Mencius, Xunzi, Lao Zi, Zhuang Zi etc. Conficius was the great educator and political thinker; he propagated moral ruling and the dominance of virtue. Similar views were also supported by Mencius; he advocated democracy, and criticized the power or tyranny and social contradictions, also promoting virtuous leaders. Somewhat different, but also virtue-oriented outlook belonged to Xunzi: he believed that all good qualities of people were acquired through learning, while evil was innate. The approaches of these philosophers based upon self-development of human beings, virtues and good qualities, and implied active approach. Quite different views were expressed by other prominent philosophers: Lao Zi and Zhuang Zi. Lao Zi’s philosophy was dao ”“ a priori, from which everything else in the universe is derived; he opposed to conflicting and believed that everything should go its natural way; thus, leaving things alone and being simpler is the principle of Lao Zi. According to Zhuang Zi, everything was relative, and only Absolute was true; such outlook generated a philosophy of “leaving things well alone”ť or “doing through not doing”ť.
In general, major concerns of the thinkers during Â Spring & Autumn period and Warring States periods were, on one hand, the nature of human being, fair rulers and democracy, and on the other hand, the distracted way of acting by not interfering and letting things to develop naturally. Also, many studies were devoted to the nature of war and to the art of war, the most prominent of them being “Art of Warfare”ť by Sun Zi. During the above-mentioned periods the kingdom experienced a great advance in culture, literature, politics and philosophy.