This introduction presents an overview of key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book focuses on the three influential ancient Confucians, namely: Confucius, Mencius and Xunzi. It explores confucianism as it was conceived and moulded by the earliest masters in an age when Confucianism was regarded as one of many viable philosophies, and did not yet enjoy the cultural supremacy that would come in later centuries. The book uses the term Confucianism to refer to the philosophy of Confucius his disciples, and the numerous later thinkers who regarded themselves as followers of his tradition. Feminist writers have been too hasty in identifying all patriarchal structures in China with Confucianism. One need not look to cases as extreme as that of footbinding to find misconceptions about Confucianism among sociologists and social historians. The tendency to associate Chinese with Confucianism derives from the representation of China as a Confucian nation by Matteo Ricci and his Jesuit confrres.