Confucius lived in a time of great social and political upheaval. China was a large and powerful empire during Confucius’ lifetime. The emperor ruled over a complex bureaucracy, and Confucius was a respected member of that bureaucracy.
Confucianism was an important part of China’s civil service examinations and the education system during this period.
Philosopher believed that people should be educated to be ethical leaders, good citizens and family members. He believed that education should focus on the virtues of benevolence, righteousness and propriety. Confucius’ political views were conservative: he believed that government should be guided by tradition, not by reformers or philosophers trying to change society.
His father was a government minister who died when Confucius was only three years old. As an adult, Confucius served as an advisor to the rulers of various Chinese states and eventually became chancellor to the ruler of his native state of Lu.
In 551 BC, Confucius was banished from his home state by its ruler for being too liberal-minded (he had suggested that women should be educated). He traveled around China for the next 10 years spreading the ideas he had developed about how people should behave towards each other if they wanted their society to survive and thrive without constant warfare or chaos. He also taught them how to govern themselves so their rulers could be just and fair with minimal use of force or cruelty towards those they ruled over.