Confucius, born in 551 B. C. in Tuo, China, was “a transmitter not a maker. ” He was born into a very poor family and was raised by his mother. Confucius’s full name was Kong Qiu and his nationality was Chinese. He got married at the age of 19 and had three children, one son and two daughters. Confucius died in 479 B. C. , and was buried in the Cemetery of Confucius. Throughout his life, Confucius was a Chinese teacher, editor, politician, thinker, and the founder of the Ru School of Chinese thought (Riegel).
Confucius had two philosophies: social and political. His social philosophy largely revolves around the concept of ren, “compassion” or “loving others” (Riegel). While Confucius believes that people live their live within the parameters firmly established by heaven- which, often, for him means both a purposeful Supreme Being as well as ‘nature’ and its fixed cycles and patterns-he argues that men are responsible for their actions and especially for their treatment of others (Riegel).
Confucius has a quote that is very relatable to the Golden Rule we learned as children. Confucius states, “What you do not wish for yourself, do not do to others. ” Confucius also claimed that he enjoyed a special and privileged relationship with Heaven and that, by age fifty, he had come to understand what Heaven had mandated for him and for mankind (Riegel). Confucius’ political philosophy is also rooted in his belief that a ruler should learn self-discipline, should govern his subjects by his own example, and should treat them with love and concern (Riegel).
A quote from Confucius states, “If the people be led by laws, and uniformly among them be sought by punishments, they will not try to escape punishment and have no sense of shame. If they are led by virtue, and uniformly sought among them through the practice of ritual propriety, they will possess a sense of shame and come to you for their own accord. ” Confucius also believed that the way to maintain and cultivate such royal “virtue” was through the practice and enactment of li or ‘rituals’- the ceremonies that defined and punctuated the lives of the ancient Chinese aristocracy (Riegel).
A hallmark of Confucius’ thought is his emphasis on education and study (Riegel). In order to be a good student, Confucius believed you must have a good teacher. A good teacher is someone older who is familiar with the ways of the past and the practices of the ancients (Riegel). Confucius once said, “He who learns but does not think is lost. He who thinks but does not learn is in great danger. ” Confucius, himself, is credited by the tradition with having taught altogether three thousand students, though only seventy are said to have truly mastered the arts he cherished.
Confucius is willing to teach anyone, whatever their social standing, as long as they are eager and tireless (Riegel). Confucius taught morality, proper speech, government, refined arts, and the “Six Arts,” ritual, music, archery, chariot-riding, calligraphy, and computation. Confucius’ goal is to create gentlemen who carry themselves with grace, speak correctly, and demonstrate the integrity in all things (Riegel). He had a strong dislike for the sycophantic “petty men,” whose clever talk and pretentious manner win them an audience.
There are many facts I found interesting about Confucius. Confucius’ surname Kong (which means literally an utterance of thankfulness when prayers have been answered), his tabooed given name Qiu, and his social name Zhongni, all appear connected to the miraculous circumstances of his birth (Riegel). Another fact I found was at the age of fifty, when Duke Ding of Lu was on the throne, Confucius’ talents were recognized and he was appointed Minister of Public Works and then Minister of Crime (Riegel).
Confucius, at home in his native village, was simple and unassuming in manner, as though he did not trust himself to speak. But when in the ancestral temple or at Count he speaks readily, though always choosing his works with due caution (Riegel). By the 4th century BCE, Confucius was recognized as a unique figure, a sage who was ignored but should have been recognized and become a king (Riegel). Though Confucius was not recognized as a king, he was a very smart and intelligent many with strong virtues, and he will be remembered forever.