"The great virtue of Heaven and Earth is life" – this proposition is a concentrated expression of the Confucian philosophy of life. Here, "Heaven and Earth" is not just an objective existence, but also has the virtue that is ethically brilliant. That "life" is the great virtue of Heaven shows that Heaven not only has the meaning of life but also has the sense of value. Thus, the Confucian philosophy of life, which holds a deep respect for "fate", and "truth", respects the origin of life, respects everything between heaven and earth, and respects the link among heaven, earth and person. Under this principle of respect, cherishing life becomes an important Confucian thinking.
The life that Confucian said is the existence that can have self-development, self-creation, self-evolution and self-renewal. Therefore, the "life" idea including the principle of purpose: every life is purposeful, the purpose of life is to improve and perfect. Due to the respect for life and the purpose of life, "life" idea leads to the "development" principle: all things are full with the development. Confucians in the Qin dynasty thought that the development principle implies an ecological ethics that is limited to the use of season. Later, the Confucian further thought that any one or any person has its own independent life value and meaning of life. So all things should be respected, understood and loved.
From the Confucian view, the purpose of cognition is service to moral practice. On morally practical level, "life" involves a pursuit of harmony. People ought to attempt to attain the harmony among heaven, earth and the people. It is an inherent humanism thinking that love should go for all the people, with differentiation notwithstanding. Through harmony, natural, human and social systems will come as an organic whole. This not only represents the needs of humans to cultivate and nurture self-life, but also represents a developmental human direction.