Confucius (Chinese: 孔子; pinyin: Kǒng zǐ; Wade–Giles: K’ung-tzu, or Chinese: 孔夫子; pinyin: Kǒng Fūzǐ; Wade–Giles: K’ung-fu-tzu), literally “Master Kong”, (traditionally 28 September 551 BC – 479 BC) was a Chinese thinker and social philosopher of the Spring and Autumn Period.
The philosophy of Confucius emphasized personal and governmental morality, correctness of social relationships, justice and sincerity. These values gained prominence in China over other doctrines, such as Legalism (法家) or Taoism (道家) during the Han Dynasty (206 BC – AD 220). Confucius’ thoughts have been developed into a system of philosophy known as Confucianism (儒家).
Because no texts survive that are demonstrably authored by Confucius, and the ideas most closely associated with him were elaborated in writings that accumulated over the period between his death and the foundation of the first Chinese empire in 221 BC, many scholars are very cautious about attributing specific assertions to Confucius himself. His teachings may be found in the Analects of Confucius (論語), a collection of aphorisms, which was compiled many years after his death. For nearly 2,000 years he was thought to be the editor or author of all the Five Classics (五經) such as the Classic of Rites (禮記) (editor), and the Spring and Autumn Annals (春秋) (author).
Confucius’ principles had a basis in common Chinese tradition and belief. He championed strong familial loyalty, ancestor worship, respect of elders by their children (and, according to later interpreters, of husbands by their wives), and the family as a basis for an ideal government. He expressed the well-known principle, “Do not do to others what you do not want done to yourself”, one of the earlier versions of the Golden Rule.
Definition courtesy Wikipedia.