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- Occupation: Philosopher and teacher
- Born: 551 BC in China, the state of Lu
- Died: 479 BC in China, the state of Lu
- Best known for: Creating the philosophy known as Confucianism
Not a lot is known about the childhood of Confucius. He was born in the state of Lu in 551 BC. His father was a soldier named Kong He who died when Confucius was three years old. The rest of his childhood was spent in poverty as Confucius was raised by his mother.
Confucius' family was part of a growing middle class of people in China called "shi." They weren't part of the nobility, but were considered above the common peasants. This gave him a different outlook on life than the majority of people. He thought that people should be promoted and rewarded based on their talents, not on what family they were born into.
"Konfuzius-1770" by Unknown
Confucius didn't start out as a wise teacher, he worked a number of normal jobs first. They included being a shepherd and a clerk,. Eventually, Confucius came to work for the government. He started out as the governor of a small town and worked his way up until he became an advisor at the top levels of government.
Confucius developed his own philosophy which he taught to others. Today, his philosophy is known as Confucianism. His ideas didn't become popular until years after his death when they became the basic philosophy of the Chinese culture for over two thousand years.
Here are some of the basic ideas of Confucianism:
- Treat others kindly
- Have good manners and follow daily rituals
- A man should have good morals and ethics
- Family was important and ancestors were to be respected
- A true man had the qualities of integrity, righteousness, altruism, goodness, and loyalty
- One should practice moderation in all things
- He believed in a strong and organized central government
Confucius quit his government job at the age of 51. He was disappointed that the leaders were not following his teachings. He then traveled throughout China for many years teaching his philosophy. Some of his followers wrote down his ideas in a book that would later be called The Analects of Confucius
Confucius died in 479 BC of natural causes. He spent his last few years in his hometown of Qufu teaching his disciples.
Confucius' teachings became the state philosophy of China during the Han Dynasty. His teachings were the basis of the government civil service exams. The government liked Confucianism because it taught to respect authority and that a strong central government was important. Confucius' teachings remained an important part of Chinese culture and government up until the 20th century.
Interesting Facts about Confucius
- What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others.
- To study and not think is a waste. To think and not study is dangerous.
- The cautious seldom err.
- Isn't it a pleasure to study and practice what you have learned?
- If you see what is right and fail to act on it, you lack courage.
- When you see a good person, think of becoming like her/him. When you see someone not so good, reflect on your own weaknesses.
For more information on the civilization of Ancient China:
- His family name was Kong Qiu and he is called "Kongzi" in China, which means "Master Kong."
- Some people consider Confucianism a religion while others consider it a philosophy.
- He married at the age of 19 and had a child named Kong Li.
- There are over 2 million known and registered descendants of Confucius.
>> Ancient China