know that Confucius was a real person who lived in China
during the time 551 - 479 BCE.
He had a tremendous influence on Chinese thought and
some scholars have compared him with the western
We also know that he was political figure with strong
opinions on education and philosophy, as well as how people
should live their lives.
He is regarded as the founder of the a Ru
School of Chinese thought and his teachings are preserved in
a collection of works know as the Analects.
The legend of Confucius
tells us that his ancestors were once weathly folk who lived
in the state of Song. The
family, fleeing political turmoil moved to Lu and became
accounts of Confucius relate his poverty stricken childhood
and how being poor drove him to first seek work at menial
jobs, doing accounting for rich farmers and taking care of
Confucius was able to educate himself and mastered music,
among other disciplines.
By the time he was middle-aged, he had begun to teach
his philosopy to others.
His teachings lead to
recognition by Duke Ding of Lu when Confucius was about
fifty years old and he was tapped as a minister of the
story continues that court rivals forced Confucius, along
with his followers into exile.
Confucius had many adventures as he traveled the
Chinese states of Wei, Song, Chen, Cai and Chu looking for
legends have Confucius returning to Lu in 484 BCE and
staying there for the remainder of his life, teaching and
writing. He is
credited with the classic Chinese texts, the Book of Songs
and the Book of Documents, as well as having edited the
Spring a Autumn Annals, which record life in the royal court
Confucius was famous for
coming up with exactly the right thing to say at the right
historians portray him as a great sage who probably should
have become a king. Confucius'
teachings argue that even though the fate and actions of
humans are governed by a supreme being, each person is
responsible for his or her own actions.
He taught that we can do little or nothing to
"alter our fated span of existence but we alone can
determine what we accomplish and what we are remembered
this does not sound radical by today's standards, historians
tell us that many of the ideas that Confucius taught were
original and new at the time - and were in some cases quite
diferent from the ideas and conventions that were
The social philosophy that
Confucius espoused was based on "ren" - being
compassionate and showing love towards others.
He felt that compassionate people were quiet in
nature and men or women, of few words.
His social philosophy is basically what we grew up
calling “The Golden Rule”, which is simply treating
others as you would want to be treated.
Confucius also taught that being respectful of your
parents and family was of the utmost importance.
The political philosophy of
Confucius was also radical for the time.
He felt that rulers needed to learn self-discipline
and restraint and should rule by example.
He very firmly believed that anyone with
responsibility for governing people had the responsibility
to treat his or her subjects with love and concern.
Finally, Confucius was a strong supporter of
felt that this was important to all people in all walk of
life and that without it, society would eventual decay and
the world fall into chaos.
Confucius' philosophy embodied quite a bit of common
sense - it is easy to see how his teachings first became so
popular and how they continue to be held in high regard in