IAS Target



Confucius (551–479 BC) was a Chinese philosopher who studied morality and interpersonal relationships from both a personal and societal standpoint. The name "Confucius" is a Latinized version of the Mandarin Chinese “Kǒng Fūzǐ” (孔夫子, meaning “Master Kǒng”).
Confucius is considered to have been born on September 28, 551 BC, in the district of Zou in present-day Qufu, China. Confucius' teaching highlighted China's moral decline, and he pushed both individuals and governments to return to virtue. This, according to Confucius, would restore the harmony, splendor, and advancement of former centuries. Confucius traveled to various parts of the world and while he did not achieve much success during his lifetime, many of his students went to other parts of the world and worked to disseminate Confucius' philosophy and teaching.

Confucius' childhood

Kong, Confucius' father He was the commandant of the local Lu garrison, an elderly man. Confucius' father died when he was three years old, and he was reared in poverty by his mother Yan Zhengzai, who died at the age of 40. Confucius was schooled in commoners' schools, where he studied and learned the Six Arts ( Rites, Music,Archery, Charioteering, Calligraphy, Mathematics). He married Qiguan at the age of 19, and the pair had their first child, Kong Li, a year later. Qiguan and Confucius will have two daughters together later in life. Confucius (aged 23) is reported to have mourned his mother's death for three years, according to tradition. During his early twenties, he is believed to have worked for the government, as a bookkeeper, and as a caretaker of sheep and horses, with the proceeds going to provide his mother a suitable burial.


  • Confucius' teachings had earned him a high reputation, and families began to recognise the importance of appropriate behavior and virtue in order to gain devotion to a legitimate government.
  • Confucius worked in the state of Lu as a magistrate, then as an assistant minister of public works, and finally as minister of justice in his late 40s and early 50s.
  • Confucius left the nation at the age of 56, when he recognised his superiors were uninterested in his policies, in search of another feudal state to which he might provide his service.
  • Despite his political dissatisfaction, he was surrounded by an ever-expanding circle of students during his nearly 12-year self-imposed exile.

Confucius's political thought

Confucius' political philosophy is founded on his ethical philosophy. He contended that the finest kind of government is one that governs by "rites" and people's innate morality, rather than through bribery and compulsion. "If people are governed by rules and uniformity is sought by sanctions, they will desire to avoid punishment while feeling no shame." They will have a sense of shame and will become virtuous if they are guided by virtue and uniformity is attempted to be supplied to them by the principles of appropriateness."
In an era of division, confusion, and never-ending warfare between feudal powers, he sought to restore the Mandate of Heaven, which might unite the "world" and bestow peace and prosperity on the people. Whose rulers would ascend to power based on their moral qualities rather than their ancestors'? These would be rulers who were devoted to their people, seeking for personal and societal perfection, and who would disseminate his qualities to the people rather than imposing right behavior through laws and rules.
Confucius rejected the concept of "democracy." Confucius raised concerns that the masses lacked the intelligence to make their own decisions, and that, in his opinion, because not everyone is created equal, not everyone has the right to self-government. While he accepted the idea of a virtuous monarch guiding the country, his beliefs included various factors to limit rulers' power. He felt that truth should be represented in words, and that honesty was of the utmost significance. Confucius thought that if you lead correctly, directives by force or punishment are unnecessary.


  • Confucius returned to his hometown Lu at the age of 68, after being invited by Ji Kangxi, the chief minister of Lu.
  • According to the Analects, he spent his final years instructing 77 followers and disseminating ancient wisdom through a collection of books known as the Five Classics.
  • He died at the age of 71 or 72, bereaved of both his son and his beloved students. He died through natural causes.
  • The original mausoleum built in remembrance of Confucius on the bank of the Sishui River was shaped like an ax.


  • Although Confucianism is widely practiced religiously by the Chinese, many believe that its values are secular and that it is thus more of a secular morality than a religion.
  • Confucianism discusses afterlife themes and views on Heaven, although it is relatively indifferent with other spiritual concerns commonly regarded vital to religious philosophy, such as the nature of souls.
  • Confucius, on the other hand, is supposed to have believed in astrology, saying that "Heaven sends down its good or evil symbols, and intelligent men act accordingly."
Confucius' philosophy, commonly known as Confucianism, emphasized personal and governmental morality, the correctness of social connections, justice, and sincerity. Confucius' ideas were officially sanctioned and evolved into a system known in the West as Neo-Confucianism, and then New Confucianism (Modern Neo-Confucianism). Confucius is largely regarded as one of the most important and influential figures in human history. His teachings and philosophy had a profound impact on individuals all across the world and continue to have an impact today. Confucius' principles are shared by Chinese tradition and belief. He advocated for strong family loyalty, ancestor veneration, and respect for elders by children and husbands by wives, suggesting family as the foundation for ideal government. He advocated the well-known Golden Rule: "Do not do unto others what you do not want to be done to be done yourself." He is also a classic Daoist deity.


  1. Compassion (‘ren’)
  2. Ritual propriety (‘li’)
  3. Reciprocity (‘Shu’)
  4. Filial Conduct (‘Xiao’)
  5. Arts of the sage (‘Wen’).
Ren: compassion, or simply goodness, which is what distinguishes us as humans. It comprises characteristics such as loyalty and benevolence, which should be instilled in children by governments, parents, and schools.
Li: These are the good manners to be practiced in daily toner to carve a virtuous human character and ritual characteristics.
Shu: It is the reciprocity principle, which is the social obligations to family, employment, and society. The behaviors are moral only if they do not hurt or cause harm to others.
Xiao: the concept of filial behavior. This is the foundation of all interactions in Confucianism, resulting in the good child or parent, as well as the decent citizen and virtuous man.
Wen: alludes to the sage's arts. Music, poetry, and art are examples of these. Confucius considered these to be peaceful arts and symbols of pure morality. These help to shape people's personalities.

Important lessons by Confucius

Never give up.

"It doesn't matter how slowly you go as long as you don't stop." Success is a work in progress, so don't be concerned if you're not exactly where you want to be at any given time. Confucius advises that it doesn't matter if you're a step or an inch closer to your dreams; what matters is that you keep moving forward.
Relationship Wisdom Five Relationships Theory: Confucius thought that five essential relationships existed in society and were intertwined.
These five human relationships are as follows:
  • Father to son: The most significant of the Five Relationships is that between a father and his son. Confucianism, which is focused on love and compassion, has a lot to say about the parent-child relationship and the importance of reciprocal respect and admiration.
  • Husband to Wife: Once again, the concepts of love, compassion, and respect are at work.
  • Elder Brother to Younger Brother: There is an aspect of teaching between right and wrong here as well.
  • Friend to Friend: This is a more consistent relationship, though it may fluctuate if the friends are very different in age.
  • Ruler To Subject: According to Confucius, the Ruler of society is expected to set a moral example for his people and to lead with a fatherly presence. According to Confucius, if the Ruler does not govern by example and instead reigns by power, he is not a good leader.

Good things come at a cost

It's so easy to be pessimistic. Our brains are programmed to do so to protect us from threats. But that doesn't mean we can't change our minds. Focus on the positive, even if it requires effort. You'll reprogram your brain to be more optimistic over time.

First, sharpen your tools.

"Life's expectations are dependent on diligence; the mechanic who wants to perfect his product must first sharpen his tools." "Success depends on prior preparation, and without such preparation, there is certain to be a failure," remarked Confucius. If you are to succeed in whatever you are called to do, you must first be prepared.

To be wrong is nothing

Don't dwell on the past or the terrible issues you're dealing with. Concentrate on what will benefit you in the future. This entails setting a goal, no matter how lofty, and then determining the measures required to achieve it. There will surely be setbacks and criticisms along the way, but don't concentrate on them and keep going forward. As an example, if I wanted to read a 450-page book in one month, I would divide it into 30 phases of 15 pages each. If I fail on some of those days, I won't beat myself up over it; instead, I'll simply read 30 pages on other days.

Consider the consequences

"Think about the repercussions when your wrath builds". "He who is slow to anger is greater than the mighty", Solomon observed. Always remember to retain your cool and think about the repercussions.

You can learn from everyone

You can learn from everyone "If I walk with two other men, each of them will be my teacher". I'll take the best parts of one and emulate them, and the worst parts of the other and correct them myself." This is one of life's most important lessons. Everyone and everything around you is a lesson, so take what you can from them. Choose qualities in others that you admire and put them into practice, and utilize negative attributes as reminders of where you don't want to go or to get rid of harmful habits you may have. There's always something new to learn.

Why are his teachings still relevant in modern society?

Confucius developed a social and political philosophy system. Confucius' teachings are divided into two categories: social teachings, which concern the correct behavior of the individual in society and toward his fellow men, and political teachings, which are concerned with the art of ruling and the correct connection of the Ruler to the ruled. He saw education as critical to establishing the right behavior in both society and government.

Relevance in the present scenario

Confucius taught that people should be compassionate toward one another and avoid treating others in ways that they would not desire to be treated. People should avoid self-aggrandizement and be "simple in manner and sluggish of speech" to be sympathetic.
They should exercise self-control and altruism. This concept is relevant today since the fundamental cultural values and virtues are deteriorating as a result of the rapid speed of economic progress and globalization. People's hostility is growing, which has resulted in an increase in crime in society.
The principle of self-discipline was central to Confucius' political beliefs. He thought that a leader needed to be self-disciplined to stay humble and compassionate to his people.
In doing so, he would set a good example, demonstrating that leaders may drive their subjects to obey the law by teaching them virtue and the unifying force of ceremonial decorum.
This teaching is equally relevant in the current scenario, as ethical values such as integrity, empathy, dedication, and justice are declining in all three pillars of government – executive, legislature, and judiciary – leading to an increase in nepotism, corruption, and public distrust of government.