One of the most prominent people in shaping the lives of the Chinese, Korean, Japanese, and Vietnamese people in their thoughts and way of life would be the great philosopher Confucius. He was a Chinese thinker and philosopher whose teachings are still found in parts of the modern world.
He was born in 551 BC according to the tradition at the beginning of the Hundred Schools of Thought philosophical movement. He is said to have been born in what is now the Shandong Province into a noble family that had fallen on hard times and was very poor. In the Records of the Grand Historian compiled four centuries later it is written that his parents marriage was an illicit union because his father was old and past a proper marrying age while his mother was still in her teens. His father died when he was only three and he continued to be raised in poverty. However because of his social background he was linked to the class of shì. This class had a status between the old nobility and the common people. It was comprised of men who sought social position because of their talents and skill and not heredity.
He married at nineteen and had a child Kong Li at the age of twenty. His mother passed away when he was only twenty three and he then went into three years of mourning. He is rumored to have worked as a Justice minister in Lu at the age of fifty three. Not all historians agree on this. He was said to leave Lu because of a disappointment in the leader and he then began his travels or journeys around the small kingdoms of Northeast and Central China.
While on these travels he is said to have talked of his political beliefs but he never saw them implemented. At the age of sixty eight it is believed that he returned home and taught to his disciples. He began transmitting the old wisdom by a set of texts called the Five Classics. These are books that are said to have been written or edited by Confucius himself as the basis of his studies. Confucius died in 479 BC at the age of seventy three and was preceded in death by beloved disciples and son.
The studies of Confucius have the greatest emphasis on the importance of study. Because of this he is seen by the Chinese people as the greateset master. Confucius wanted his disciples to think deeply for themselves and to study the outside world relentlessly. He wanted to restore the Mandate of Heaven (or a unification of the world) during times of chaos and endless wars between the feudal states.
The moral teachings of Confucius seem to emphasize the self-cultivation and the attainment of skilled judgment rather than knowledge of rules. Confucius’s ethics may be considered as virtue ethics. His teachings did not rely on argument but on the showing of his ideals. His teachings were so broad that they need to be studied fully to be understood properly.
Confucius can be thought of as an example of human excellence because of his pursuit of ethical self-improvement. Because of this ideal his teachings maybe considered a Chinese example of humanism. His most famous teaching on this ethical self-improvement would be the Golden Rule which states “do no harm” or simply as to treat others as you would like to be treated. This phrase has become a part of the hippocratic oath and used many times in medical discussions.
The teachings of Confucius have been tried and tested through many centuries. He was a true visionary for the modern world. Confucius made a positive and lasting legacy on China and the world. To this day you still hear references to his teachings and philosophyof life. It has become the basis for so many things in this life that the world would truly feel an emptiness had he not been the great philosopher he is accredited with