Confucius was a Chinese philosopher who lived in the spring and autumn period of China. He is considered among the most influential people in the ancient history. Many Chinese proverbs are attributed to him. His ideals and teachings are what we call Confucianism. According to Confucius’ philosophy, a person is considered to be morally sound only if he is in harmony with himself and the world. Today, Confucianism has many followers. Here are some facts about Confucius.
- The term Confucianism is understood as a philosophical-political movement within China. Confucius was not only an educator and politician, but also scholar and thinker. During his extensive studies, he also dealt intensively with literature, history, philosophy, politics, society and ethics. He was also confronted with various social problems.
Facts About Life of Confucius
- The name Confucius is actually Latin which is derived from the Chinese name, Kong Fuzi. (1)
- Confucius was born in 551 BC and died in 479 at the age of 73. He lived in the spring and autumn period of China (770-476 BC). The then China was seemingly united under the Zhou dynasty. It was, actually divided into large and smaller feudal principalities. All local princes despotic over their own region and regulated their affairs in their own way. They took no account of the administrative and military decrees of the central dynasty. (1)
- Confucius was a member of a noble, but poor family in the Lu state, which is Shandong province in modern China. Although poor, he was educated because of his upbringing in a noble family. (1)
- Confucius worked as bookkeeper and a caretaker of sheep and horses in his early 20s. There are some evidences that suggest that he rose to top administrative positions in the state, later in his life. He began his teaching career at the age of 30. (2)
- He was disappointed with the state of affairs in the state of Lu. The state suffered from both internal and external conflicts. He made efforts to make the people understand his philosophy, but to no use. This caused him to leave the state at the age of 56 and travel for about 12 years to find a ruler who would implement his ideas. His efforts were fruitless. He returned to his state and pursued his career in teaching. (2)
- On his exile, he was accompanied by some of his students. Although, frustrated and uncertain of whether people would understand him or not, he continued to pursue his passion.
Facts About Confucius 5 Virtues, Philosophy and Teachings
- His philosophy preached of social order above all. Confucius believed that this order was only possible through mutual respect for each other and for ancestor worship. To achieve this ideal, Confucius saw education as the only way. Confucius is especially famous for his various quotes on education.
- Confucianism teaches 5 virtues.
- Ren (Jen), that means altruism and humanity.
- Yi, which means justice and righteousness.
- Li, which means good behavior and conduct.
- Zhi, which means wisdom.
- Xin, which means faithfulness and sincerity. (4)
More Facts About Confucius
- Confucius saw the social order as the basis of the structures that made a free life possible in the first place.
- Confucius taught 6 arts in his school, which were Music, Calligraphy, Arithmetic, Ritual, Archery and, Charioteering.
- The Confucian ideas were adopted as the official philosophy of the state during the Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD)
- Unlike prophets of monotheistic religions , Confucius did not preach a theology that would lead humanity to personal redemption. He preached a philosophy that sought the redemption of the state by correcting individual behavior. It was a doctrine oriented to this world, preaching a code of social conduct and not a path to life after death.
- Confucius was the first man in China to make the rule that everyone was equal to education, poor or rich.
- Confucius taught over three thousand students over the decades, of which 72 students stood out as wise men. In the educational history of ancient China, no one had had as many disciples as Confucius.
- China has many temples dedicated to Confucianism. The largest of them is the Temple of Confucius in Qufu, the place where Confucius was born. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- The temple of Confucius are also present in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Korea, Japan, Indonesia and Malaysia.
- Confucianism is also followed in some parts of North America. In fact, more than 6 million people follow Confucianism.
- The Analects of Confucius is a book written by his followers and consists of his teachings and ideas. (3)
- Confucianism started to get repressed in the modern People’s Republic of China in the 1900s causing its followership to decrease.
- There are four books that illustrate the beliefs and core values of Confucianism and five classics associated with Confucianism.
- Disciples of Confucius and his only grandson, Zisi , continued their philosophical school after his death.
Related reading: Confucianism Beliefs, Symbols, and Practices.