From his teachings came a system of ethics for managing society that has influenced generations of politicians, social reformers, and religious thinkers. Indeed, the effect of Confucian philosophy has been so profound that it has become basic not only to an understanding of traditional Chinese civilization, but of Western society as well. Now the essence of Confucian teaching, contained in The Analects, is available in this inexpensive volume, providing inspirational and instructive reading to anyone interested in the history of social thought, Chinese philosophy, or theories of ethical behavior.
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
1.1. The Master said: "To learn something and then to put it into practice at the right time: is this not a joy? To have friends coming from afar: is this not a delight? Not to be upset when one's merits are ignored: is this not the mark of a gentleman?"(*)
1.2. Master You said: "A man who respects his parents and his elders would hardly be inclined to defy his superiors. A man who is not inclined to defy his superiors will never foment a rebellion. A gentleman works at the root. Once the root is secured, the Way unfolds. To respect parents and elders is the root of humanity."
1.3. The Master said: "Clever talk and affected manners are seldom signs of goodness."
1.4. Master Zeng said: "I examine myself three times a day. When dealing on behalf of others, have I been trustworthy? In intercourse with my friends, have I been faithful? Have I practiced what I was taught?"
1.5. The Master said: "To govern a state of middle size, one must dispatch business with dignity and good faith; be thrifty and love all men; mobilize the people only at the right times."
1.6. The Master said: "At home, a young man must respect his parents; abroad, he must respect his elders. He should talk little, but with good faith; love all people, but associate with the virtuous. Having done this, if he still has energy to spare, let him study literature."
1.7. Zixia said "A man who values virtue more than good looks, who devotes all his energy to serving his father and mother, who is willing to give his life for his sovereign, who in intercourse with friend's is true to hiswordeven though some may call him uneducated, I still maintain he is an educated man."
1.8. The Master said: "A gentleman who lacks gravity has no authority and his learning will remain shallow. A gentleman puts loyalty and faithfulness foremost; he does not befriend his moral interiors. When he commits a fault, he is not afraid to amend his ways."
1.9. Master Zeng said "When the dead are honored and the memory of remote ancestors is kept alive, a people's virtue is at its fullest."
1.10. Ziqin asked Zigong: "When the Master arrives in another country, he always becomes informed about its politics. Does he ask for such information, or is it given him?" Zigong replied: "The Master obtains it by being cordial, kind, courteous, temperate, and deferential. The Master has a way of enquiring which is quite different from other people's, is it not?"
1.11. The Master said: "When the father is alive, watch the sons's aspirations. When the father is dead, watch the son's actions. It three years later, the son has not veered from the father's way, he may be called a dutiful son indeed."
1.12. Master You said: "When practicing the ritual, what matters most is harmony. This is what made the beauty of the way of the ancient kings; it inspired their every move, great or small. Yet they knew where to stop: harmony cannot be sought for its own sake, it must always be subordinated to the ritual; otherwise it would not do."
1.13. Master You said: "If your promises conform to what is right, you will be able to keep your word. If your manners conform to the ritual, you will be able to keep shame and disgrace at bay. The best support is provided by one's own kinsmen."
1.14. The Master said: "A gentleman eats without stuffing his belly; chooses a dwelling without demanding comfort; is diligent in his office and prudent in his speech; seeks the company of the virtuous in order to straighten his own ways. Of such a man, one may truly say that he is fond of learning."
1.15. Zigong said: "'Poor without servility; rich without arrogance.' How is that?" The Master said: "Not bad, but better still: 'Poor, yet cheerful; rich, yet considerate.'" Zigong said: "In the Poems, it is said: 'Like carving horn, like sculpting ivory, like cutting jade, like polishing stone.' Is this not the same idea?" The Master said: "Ah, one can really begin to discuss the Poems with you! I tell you one thing, and you can figure out the rest."
1.16. The Master said: "Don't worry if people don't recognize your merits; worry that you may not recognize theirs." (*) For explanations and comments, readers should refer to the second part of this book, where all the notes are collected under numbered headings corresponding to the chapters and paragraphs of the translation. No further callouts for notes appear in the text of the translation.
Table of ContentsChronology
The 36 Disciples
Note on the Conversations
Book I. Concerning Fundamental Principles
Book II. Concerning Government
Book III. The Eight Dancers: Concerning Manners and Morals
Book IV. Concerning Virtue
Book V. Concerning Certain Disciples and Others
Book VI. Concerning Certain Disciples and Other Subjects
Book VII. Concerning the Master Himself
Book VIII. Chiefly Concerning Certain Ancient Worthies
Book IX. Chiefly Personal
Book X Concerning the Sage in His Daily Life
Book XI. Chiefly Concerning the Disciples
"Book XII. Concerning Virtue, Nobility, and Polity"
Book XIII. Chiefly Concerning Government
Book XIV. Chiefly Concerning Government and Certain Rulers
Book XV. Chiefly on the Maintenance of Principles and Character
Book XVI. Concerning Ministerial Responsibility et Alia
Book XVII. Recording Unsuitable Calls and Sundry Maxims
Book XVIII. Concerning Ancient Worthies
Book XIX. Recorded Sayings of Some Disciples
Book XX. Concerning Right Government
What People are Saying About This
“For more than two millennia, the teachings of Confucius have served as a guide for a substantial portion of humanity. English-language readers seeking to understand this remarkable body of thought are fortunate to have Annping Chin’s highly readable and judiciously annotated edition of The Analects.” —Henry A. Kissinger
“An astonishingly lucid exposition of The Analects. A kind of serene insight pervades the commentaries.” —Harold Bloom
“An incomparable new volume that combines a fresh and sympathetic translation with a wonderfully readable annotation. It is a joy to use and will unlock a whole new level of meaning for English-language readers.” —Orville Schell, Director of the Center on U.S.-China Relations and co-author of Wealth and Power: China’s Long March to the Twenty-First Century