Confucius

Philosopher

Born: 551 B.C.
Died: 479 B.C.
Birthplace: Lu, China (now Shandong province)
Best known as: Chinese sage

Also Known As: Kong Fu-Zi

Confucius was a teacher, scholar and minor political official whose commentary on Chinese literary classics developed into a pragmatic philosophy for daily life. Not strictly religious, the teachings of Confucius were a utilitarian approach to social harmony and defined moral obligations between individuals and social systems. After his death his pupils collected notes on his sayings and doings and recorded them as the Analects. This compilation was added to over the years, and many sayings attributed to him are probably only loosely based on his teachings. His approach was formalized into a political and religious system during the Han Dynasty in the early part of the third century. It was embraced by subsequent generations and was the "state religion" of China until the latter part of the 20th century. In recent years critics have condemned Confucianism, characterizing its reliance on tradition as an impediment to modernization.

Extra credit: "Confucius" is the Latin rendering of his Chinese name, Kong Fu-Zi, which is sometimes also spelled as Kung Fu-Zi, K'ung-fu-tze, or in other variations. The name is unrelated to the martial art known as kung fu.

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