The Analects of Confucius

The Analects of Confucius

TRANSLATED BY BURTON WATSON
Copyright Date: 2007
Pages: 176
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7312/wats14164
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  • Book Info
    The Analects of Confucius
    Book Description:

    Compiled by disciples of Confucius in the centuries following his death in 479 B.C.E., The Analects of Confucius is a collection of aphorisms and historical anecdotes embodying the basic values of the Confucian tradition: learning, morality, ritual decorum, and filial piety. Reflecting the model eras of Chinese antiquity, the Analects offers valuable insights into successful governance and the ideal organization of society. Filled with humor and sarcasm, it reads like a casual conversation between teacher and student, emphasizing the role of the individual in the attainment of knowledge and the value of using historical events and people to illuminate moral and political concepts.

    Confucius's teachings focus on cultural and peaceful pursuits and the characteristics of benevolent and culturally distinguished government. He also discusses ancestor worship and other rites performed for the spirits of the dead. The single most influential philosophical work in all of Chinese history, The Analects of Confucius has shaped the thought and customs of China and neighboring countries for centuries. Burton Watson's concise translation uses the pinyin romanization system and keeps explanatory notes to a minimum, yet his intimate knowledge of the Confucian tradition and precise attention to linguistic detail capture the original text's elegance, cogency, and wit.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-51199-5
    Subjects: Religion, Philosophy, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[iv])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [v]-[viii])
  3. Introduction
    (pp. 1-14)

    Lunyu, or The Analects of Confucius, has probably exercised a greater influence on the history and culture of the Chinese people than any other work in the Chinese language. Not only has it shaped the thought and customs of China over many centuries, but it has played a key role in the development of other countries that were within the Chinese cultural sphere, such as Korea, Japan, and, later, Vietnam.

    Readers encountering the text for the first time might wonder how this rather brief collection of aphorisms and historical anecdotes could have been so influential. The text, probably compiled in...

  4. Book One
    (pp. 15-18)

    1 The Master said, Studying, and from time to time going over what you’ve learned—that’s enjoyable, isn’t it? To have a friend come from a long way off—that’s a pleasure, isn’t it? Others don’t understand him, but he doesn’t resent it—that’s the true gentleman, isn’t it?

    2 Master You said,¹ A man filial to his parents, a good brother, yet apt to go against his superiors—few are like that! The man who doesn’t like to go against his superiors but likes to plot rebellion—no such kind exists! The gentleman operates at the root. When the...

  5. Book Two
    (pp. 19-24)

    1 The Master said, Conduct government in accordance with virtue, and it will be like the North Star standing in its place, with all the other stars paying court to it.

    2 The Master said, The three hundred poems of the Book of Odes may be summed up in a single phrase: Think nothing base.¹

    3 The Master said, Guide them with government orders, regulate them with penalties, and the people will seek to evade the law and be without shame. Guide them with virtue, regulate them with ritual, and they will have a sense of shame and become upright....

  6. Book Three
    (pp. 25-30)

    1 Confucius observed of the Ji family, They have eight rows of dancers in their courtyard. If this can be excused, what cannot be excused?¹

    2 The three Ji families used the Yong ode when the sacrifices were being carried away.² The Master said,

    Assisting are the great lords,

    the Son of Heaven in majesty,

    How can this be used in the halls of the three Ji families?

    3 The Master said, A human being who lacks humaneness—what is ritual to someone like that? A human being who lacks humaneness—what is music to someone like that?

    4 Lin...

  7. Book Four
    (pp. 31-34)

    1 The Master said, Humaneness is the beauty of the community. If you can choose but do not make humaneness your home, how can you be called wise?

    2 The Master said, A person lacking in humaneness cannot endure straightened circumstances for long, nor can he enjoy favorable circumstances for long. The humane person rests in humaneness, the wise person profits from humaneness.

    3 The Master said, Only the humane person is able to like others and is able to hate others.

    4 The Master said, Truly set your mind on humaneness, and you will be without evil.

    5 The...

  8. Book Five
    (pp. 35-40)

    1 The Master said of Gongye Chang, He deserves a wife. Although he was bound and imprisoned, he was guilty of no crime.

    And he gave him his own daughter for a wife.

    2 The Master said of Nan Rong, If the state is ruled by the Way, he will not be overlooked. If the state is not ruled by the Way, he will still stay clear of penalties and punishments.

    And he gave him the daughter of his elder brother for a wife.

    3 The Master said of Zijian, A real gentleman, this one! If there were no gentlemen...

  9. Book Six
    (pp. 41-46)

    1 The Master said, Yong (Zhonggong Ran Yong) could be given a seat facing south.¹

    2 Zhonggong asked about Zisang Bozi. The Master said, He will do—he’s lenient in nature.

    Zhonggong said, If he is strict with himself but lenient when it comes to overseeing the common people, will that be all right? If one is lenient with himself and behaves toward others in a lenient manner, that’s too much leniency, isn’t it?

    The Master said, What you say is correct.

    3 Duke Ai questioned Confucius, saying, Who among your disciples loves learning?

    Confucius replied, There was Yan Hui...

  10. Book Seven
    (pp. 47-52)

    1 The Master said, A transmitter and not a maker, trusting in and loving antiquity, I venture to compare myself with our Old Peng.

    2 The Master said, To be silent and understand, to learn without tiring, never to weary of teaching others—this much I can do.

    3 The Master said, Virtue not sufficiently practiced, learning not sufficiently digested, to hear what is right and not be able to do it, to have shortcomings and not be able to remedy them— these are the things that I worry about.

    4 The Master when he was at leisure—very relaxed,...

  11. Book Eight
    (pp. 53-58)

    1 The Master said, Tai Bo may be said to exemplify the highest virtue. Three times he relinquished the right to the empire, but the common people did not understand why this was praiseworthy.

    2 The Master said, Courtesy without ritual becomes labored; caution without ritual becomes timidity; daring without ritual becomes riotousness; directness without ritual becomes obtrusiveness.

    If the gentleman treats those close to him with generosity, the common people will be moved to humaneness. If he does not forget his old associates, the common people will shun cold-heartedness.

    3 When Master Zeng was ill, he summoned his disciples...

  12. Book Nine
    (pp. 59-64)

    1 The Master seldom spoke about profit, about fate, or about humaneness.

    2 A villager of Daxiang said, What a great man Confucius is! He has studied widely, but he doesn’t make any particular name for himself.

    3 When the Master heard this, he said to his disciples, What should I specialize in? Should I specialize in charioteering? Should I specialize in archery? I think I’ll specialize in charioteering.

    3 The Master said, Ritual calls for caps of hemp, though nowadays silk is used, because it is more economical. I go along with others in this.

    Ritual calls for one...

  13. Book Ten
    (pp. 65-70)

    1 When Confucius was among the people of the community, he was mild and deferential, as though he were unable to speak. When he was in the ancestral temple of the ruler or at court, he spoke at length, though always in a circumspect manner.

    2 At the morning audience, he talked with the lesser officials in a relaxed and affable way, and talked with the higher officials in a respectful manner. When the ruler made his appearance, Confucius assumed a reverential attitude, but one free of constraint.

    3 When the ruler summoned him to greet a guest, his face...

  14. Book Eleven
    (pp. 71-78)

    1 The Master said, Older people, when it comes to rites and music, are mere rustics. Younger people, in matters of rites and music, are true gentlemen. But when it comes to usage, I follow the older people.

    2 The Master said, Of those who followed me in Chen and Cai, none succeeded in gaining official position.¹

    [Or, according to another interpretation of the last phrase:] none come to my gate anymore, [because they are all dead or scattered].

    [Or:] none come to my gate anymore, [because they have forgotten me].

    3 VIRTUOUS CONDUCT: Yan Yuan, Min Ziqian, Ran Boniu,...

  15. Book Twelve
    (pp. 79-86)

    1 Yan Yuan asked about humaneness. The Master said, To master the self and return to ritual is to be humane. For one day master the self and return to ritual, and the whole world will become humane. Being humane proceeds from you yourself. How could it proceed from others?

    Yan Yuan said, May I ask how to go about this?

    The Master said, If it is contrary to ritual, don’t look at it. If it is contrary to ritual, don’t listen to it. If it is contrary to ritual, don’t utter it. If it is contrary to ritual, don’t...

  16. Book Thirteen
    (pp. 87-94)

    1 Zilu asked about government. The Master said, Do it by leading, and by rewarding.

    Anything further, may I ask?

    The Master said, Never be neglectful.

    2 Zhonggong, who was serving as steward to the Ji family, asked about government.

    The Master said, Your first concern should be the officers in your employ. Excuse minor shortcomings, and promote those of outstanding talent.

    How can I know those of outstanding talent in order to promote them?

    The Master said, Promote those you know to be worthy. As for those you don’t know, will others fail to mention them?

    3 Zilu said,...

  17. Book Fourteen
    (pp. 95-104)

    1 Xian (Yuan Si) asked what is shameful. The Master said, When a state follows the Way, one receives an official stipend. But when a state is without the Way, to receive an official stipend is shameful.

    2 [Yuan Si said,] If one is free of high-handedness, bragging, enmity, and craving, can this be termed humaneness? The Master said, It may be termed difficult. But as for humaneness—I don’t know about that.

    3 The Master said, A man of station who longs for the comforts of home does not deserve to be called a man of station.

    4 The...

  18. Book Fifteen
    (pp. 105-112)

    1 Duke Ling of Wei asked Confucius about battle formations. Confucius replied, With regard to sacrificial platters and stands, I have some learning. But I have never studied military affairs.

    The next day he left Wei for good.

    2 When Confucius was in Chen, he ran out of provisions and his followers were so weak that none of them could stand up. Zilu confronted Confucius angrily, saying, Does the gentleman have to put up with such hardships?

    The Master said, The gentleman remains firm in the face of hardships. The petty man, when he encounters hardship, gives way to panic....

  19. Book Sixteen
    (pp. 113-118)

    1 [In the following passage Ran You and Zilu, two disciples who were in the service of the Ji family, inform Confucius of a plan to attack Zhuanyu, a small feudal domain within the state of Lu. It was situated close to Bi, a region under the control of the Ji family. Feudal lords were charged with the duty of sacrificing to the major mountains and rivers in their domain.]

    When the Ji family was about to attack Zhuanyu, Ran You and Jilu (Zilu) called on Confucius and reported that the Ji family was planning to move against Zhuanyu.

    Confucius...

  20. Book Seventeen
    (pp. 119-126)

    1 Yang Huo (Yang Hu?) wanted to see Confucius, but Confucius refused to see him. He then sent Confucius a suckling pig. Confucius, choosing a time when Yang was not at home, went to express thanks for the gift, but he happened to meet Yang in the street. Addressing Confucius, Yang Huo said, Come—I have something to say to you. You hide in your heart a wealth of talent and yet let your country go astray. Can that be called humaneness? Of course not! You long to hold office and yet time and again miss the chance to do...

  21. Book Eighteen
    (pp. 127-132)

    1 Weizi left the state; Jizi became a slave; Bi Gan reprimanded him and was killed. Confucius said, The Yin had three who were humane.¹

    2 When Liuxia Hui served as chief judge he was three times dismissed.² Someone said, Wouldn’t you do better going elsewhere?

    Liuxia Hui said, If I apply the Way correctly in serving others, where can I go and not be dismissed three times? And if I applied the Way in a crooked fashion in serving others, what need would I have to leave the country of my father and mother?

    3 Duke Jing of Qi,...

  22. Book Nineteen
    (pp. 133-138)

    1 Zizhang said, When a man of station spies danger, he is prepared to give his life.¹ When he spies gain, he thinks of what is right. At a sacrifice, he thinks of respectfulness; at a funeral, he thinks of grief. If he does this much, he will get by.

    2 Zizhang said, He adheres to virtue but not expansively; he trusts in the Way but not with conviction—how can you tell if he’s really there or not?

    3 A disciple of Zixia asked Zizhang about personal relations. Zizhang said, What does Zixia say? The disciple replied, Zixia says,...

  23. Book Twenty
    (pp. 139-142)

    1 Yao said, Ah, you, Shun—the destiny decreed by Heaven rests with you. Hold sincerely to the center. If those within the four seas suffer hardship and want, Heaven’s bounty will end forever.

    And Shun voiced the same command [when he ceded the throne] to Yu.

    [Tang] said, I, the little one, Lu, venture to sacrifice this black ox, I venture to report clearly to the most august Lord above. The guilty one I have not ventured to pardon, but I do nothing to hinder the Lord’s officials. May they be chosen in accordance with the Lord’s will. If...

  24. Glossary of Persons and Places
    (pp. 143-152)
  25. Back Matter
    (pp. 153-162)