Confucius ("Master Kong")

The most influential philosopher in Chinese history was Confucius (551–479 BC). The name Confucius is actually a westernized version of “Kong Fuzi,” meaning “Master Kong.” Confucius was born in the state called Lu as part of the shi-class, just a notch higher than the common folk. When his father died soon after his birth, he was raised in poverty by his mother. Although starting out in this lowly position, he slowly worked himself up, first becoming a keeper of granaries and livestock, then a district officer, then minister of works, and finally minister of crime. Because of his background, he retained a strong connection with the lower classes, taking on both rich and poor students (and even the sons of criminals).

Confucius minister of crime keeper of cattle