Confucius (K'ung Ch'iu)
Chinese philosopher who was born Kong Qiu, with the formal name Kong Zhongni, in the state of Lu in what is now Shandong province. The second son of a minor aristocratic family that had fallen from power, Confucius was orphaned as a child and grew up in relative poverty. A voracious reader, he educated himself, eventually becoming a private tutor for the sons of wealthy gentlemen. Read more... he lived. For a decade beginning when he was about 55, Confucius wandered through neighboring states, attempting to convince various rulers of his worthiness for political positions through which he could introduce his planned reforms. Though by most accounts his travels never resulted in an offer for political office (some sources say he became a minister of state), Confucius was able to gather a substantial number of students who devoted themselves to his school of thought. Though it has been described as a religion, Confucianism is more of a political and social philosophy based on humanism, rationality, education, and virtuous example. During imperial times, Confucius was lauded as the "First Teacher" and the "Uncrowned King".