San José State University
Thayer Watkins
Silicon Valley
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The Life and Significance
of Confucius, Master K'ung

The man known in the West as Confucius is one of a handful of human beings who, as individuals, have significantly affected the history of mankind. He was born about 551 BCE in the Kingdom of Lu, a small state in what is now eastern China. His family name was K'ung. In later life he was known as Master K'ung, which in Chinese is K'ung fu-tzü the Latinized version of which is Con-fu-cius.

His family was probably a poor family descended from the aristocracy. His parents died when Confucius was small and he worked at menial jobs to support himself. He has written that at age 15 he decided to educate himself. He succeeded so well that at maturity he was acknowleged at a the most learnéd person of his time.

Confucius lived to age 72. Toward the end of his life he summed his life experience:

At fifteen I set my heart on learning; at thirty I was firmly established; at forty I had no more doubts; at fifty I knew the will of heaven; at sixty I was willing to listen to it; at seventy I could follow my heart's desire without transgressing what is right.

Principles and Concepts of Confucian Thought
jenvirtue, love, magnanimity, humaneness"Jen is to love people joyously from one's innermost heart"
hsiaofilial piety
lidecorum, formality
chün tzüsuperior man, prince-son, lordling
t'ienheaven, cosmic spiritual-moral power

Confucius said there are three things that a superior man stands in awe of:

(To be continued.)

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