Confucius

Biographical note

Chinese thinker and social philosopher, whose teachings and philosophy have deeply influenced Chinese, Korean, Japanese and Vietnamese thought and life. His philosophy emphasized personal and governmental morality, correctness of social relationships, justice and sincerity. These values gained prominence in China over other doctrines, such as Legalism (法家) or Taoism (道家) during the Han Dynasty (206 B.C.E. – 220 C.E.). Confucius' thoughts have been developed into a system of philosophy known as Confucianism (儒家). It was introduced to Europe by the Italian Jesuit Matteo Ricci, who was the first to Latinise the name as "Confucius."

His teachings may be found in the Analects of Confucius (論語), a collection of "brief aphoristic fragments", which was compiled many years after his death. For nearly 2,000 years he was thought to be the editor or author of all the Five Classics (五經) such as the Classic of Rites (禮記) (editor), and the Spring and Autumn Annals (春秋) (author).

The formal name of Confucius was Kong Qiu (孔丘), and he was also called Zhongni (仲尼). He was born in 551 B.C. in the Lu (鲁) State (This state was in the south of modern-day Shandong Province) in the later days of the Spring-Autumn Period. Confucius was from a warrior family. His father Shulianghe (叔梁紇) was a famous warrior who had military exploits in two battles and got a feoff. But Confucius lost his father when he was three years old, and then his mother Yan Zhengzai (顏徵在) took him and left the feoff because as a concubine (妾) she wanted to avoid mistreatment from Shulianghe's formal wife. So Confucius, since childhood, lived in poverty with his mother. With the support and encouragement of his mother, Confucius was very diligent in his studies. When Confucius was seventeen years old, his mother died of illness and overwork. Three years later, Confucius married a young woman who was from the Qiguan family (亓官氏) of Song (宋) State. Though he had a mild wife who loved him, he still left his family and strived for his ideals. Confucius wanted to revive the perfect virtue of Huaxia and the classical properties of the Western Zhou Dynasty for building a great harmonious and humanistic society.

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