Rubbing-Portrait of Confucius From The Forest of Stone Table
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Confucius, in Chinese K'UNG FU-TZU (circa 551-479 BC) , Chinese philosopher, one of the most influential figures in Chinese history. According to tradition, Confucius was born in the state of Lu (present-day Shandong [Shantung] Province) of the noble K'ung clan. His original name was K'ung Ch'iu. His father, commander of a district in Lu, died three years after Confucius was born, leaving the family in poverty; but Confucius nevertheless received a fine education. He was married at the age of 19 and had one son and two daughters. Confucius was greatly venerated during his lifetime and in succeeding ages. Although he himself had little belief in the supernatural, he has been revered almost as a spiritual being by millions. The entire teaching of Confucius was practical and ethical, rather than religious. He claimed to be a restorer of ancient morality and held that proper outward acts based on the five virtues of kindness, uprightness, decorum, wisdom, and faithfulness constitute the whole of human duty. Reverence for parents, living and dead, was one of his key concepts. His view of government was paternalistic, and he enjoined all individuals to observe carefully their duties toward the state. In subsequent centuries his teachings exerted a powerful influence on the Chinese nation. See also Confucianism.