Before Confucius

Who were Confucius’s role models? What legends did the people of his era look up to? What were the names of the philosophers and their philosophies that Confucius tried to learn from?

Confucius was outdated when he wrote the analects. He was looking to the past, IE Shang or Western Zhou when he wrote it - if he actually wrote it, that is.

Of course. He lived during an era of constant warfare and looked to a more noble, and more peaceful, past.

But who were his teachers? Does any record of the philosophers before Confucius survive, or is he the oldest that we know of?

I would imagine that the earliest is the Book of Changes.

Ancestor worship won over Shang Di around the time Zhou got rid of Shang.

Early concepts which Confucius built on was the Shang concept of cyclicity, and the Zhou concept of the mandate of heaven(their justification for getting rid of Shang, presumably).

Confucius looked back on an idealized version of early Zhou for his perfect society.

Note that Confucius does not stand alone, there were a ton of different philosophical schools at that time, IE the hundred schools. They most likely drew inspiration from each other, along with older concepts, some sources still exist such as Yi Jing, and some likely lost.

So to go to the works before Kongzi, one needs to go to before the Zhou dynasty…

Do any literary works from Shang or the Zhou state of Song survive? Or even from early Western Zhou, before the Spring&Autumn period?

Only the dragonbones, and they are fragmented, IE they give a very small glimpse into the world of Shang.

Time destroys a lot, the Qin emperor and the confucians between them did the rest.

According to the Yi-jing is the only Shang dynasty era work, just as you pointed out.

The Book of History on the other hand has information from Xia to Zhou… but it was compiled in the Zhou era, even if it was pre-confucian.

The emperors Yao, Shun, and Yu…?

Tell me more! What is known about them?

Well, they are legendary / mythological figures:

It is also possible that Laozi (under the name of Li Er, Li Dan, or Lao Dan, something like that) really was an elder contemporary of Confucius (as Sima Qian writes), but that the scripture and philosophy attributed to him are later pseudepigrapha–assigned his name in order to take advantage of his status as senior to Confucius, so that the philosophy would seem equally venerable. Which would mean, unfortunately, that we would have no idea what the original “Laozi” thought or taught.

I had wondered about Yin&Yang. It was an incredibly ancient and important philosophy but no known works survived…
[ul][li]Yin-Yang and Five Phases Theory, Correlative Thinking[/li][/ul]

This is interesting…
[ul][li]Zhanguoce 戰國策 “Stratagems of the Warring States”[/li][/ul]

The Shangshu is probably the closest to what I’m looking for that still survives. Ironically, it is from Kongzi himself.
[ul][li]Shangshu 尚書 “Documents of the Elder” or Shujing 書經 “Book of Documents”[/li][/ul]

I can probably gleam some additional history from these works.
[ul][li]Yili 儀禮 “Etiquette and Ceremonials”[/li]
[li]Chuci 楚辭 “Poetry of the South”[/li][/ul]

Knowledge from the Southern Kingdoms of the time is especially interesting. Although, the Kingdom of Yue had its capital in Shanghai, so this is not really the same area that we would consider “Southern China” today.
[ul][li]Zhou Dynasty 周 (11th. cent.-221 BC)[/li][/ul]

There are three key philosophies, Taoism, Confucianism and Buddhism, in the traditional Chinese society. Among the three, Taoism is the oldest, then Confucianism, and Buddhism is the last one that was imported from ancient India. Actually, not only does Yi Jing belong to Taoism, but also Sun Tzu (an ancient Chinese military holy text). The more you study traditional Chinese philosophies, the more you will find that the intrinsic spirit of lots of traditional Chinese philosophies belongs to Taoism. Of course, Lao-zi belongs to Taoism as well, and it is a very important holy text of Taoism.