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), lit. “Master Kong,” (traditionally September 28, 551 B.C.E. – 479 B.C.E.) was a Chinese thinker and social philosopher, whose teachings and philosophy have deeply influenced Chinese, Korean, Japanese and Vietnamese thought and life.
His philosophy 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 B.C.E. – 220 C.E.). Confucius’ thoughts have been developed into a system of philosophy known as Confucianism (儒家). It was introduced to Europe by the Italian Jesuit Matteo Ricci, who was the first to Latinise the name as “Confucius.”
His teachings may be found in the Analects of Confucius (論語), a collection of “brief aphoristic fragments”, which was compiled many years after his death. Modern historians do not believe that any specific documents can be said to have been written by Confucius, but 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).