Tag Archives: ethics

The Analects (III)

Confucius, and D. C. Lau. The Analects (Lun Yü). Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1979. Print.

論語 巻二 八佾。The Analects vol.2 Hachi-itsu. via wikimedia.

(Book XI – appendix)

Book XI

10. When Yen Yuan died, in weeping for him the Master showed undue sorrow. His followers said, ‘You are showing undue sorrow.’ ‘Am I? Yet if not for him, for whom should I show undue sorrow?’

12. Chi-lu asked how the spirits of the dead and the gods should be served. The Master said, ‘You are not able even to serve man. How can you serve the spirits?’
‘May I ask about death?’
‘You do not understand even life. How can you understand death?’

16. Tzu-kung asked, ‘Who is superior, Shi or Shang?’ The Master said, ‘There is little to choose between overshooting the mark and falling short.’

Book XII

1… the practice of benevolence depends on oneself alone, and not on others.’

2… The Master said… ‘Do not impose on others what you yourself do not desire.’

4. Ssu-ma Niu asked about the gentleman. The Master said, ‘The gentleman is free from worries and fears.’

5… Tzu-hsia said, ‘I have heard it said: life and death are a matter of Destiny; wealth and honour depend on Heaven.’

7. Tzu-kung asked about government. The Master said, ‘Give them enough food, give them enough arms, and the common people will have trust in you.’ give up arms first and food second ‘Death has always been with us since the beginning of time, but when there is no trust, the common people will have nothing to stand on.’

14. Tzu-chang asked about government. The Master said, ‘Over daily routine do not show weariness, and when there is action to be taken, give your best.’

16. The Master said, ‘The gentleman helps others to realize what is good in them; he does not help them to realize what is bad in them. The small man does the opposite.’

22… The Master said, ‘Raise the straight and set them over the crooked. This can make the crooked straight.’


2… ‘How does one recognize men of talent to promote?’
The Master said, ‘Promote those you do recognize. Do you suppose others will allow those you fail to recognize to be passed over?’

6. The Master said, ‘If a man is correct in his own person, then there will be obedience without orders being given; but if he is not correct in his own person, there will not be obedience even though orders are given.’

13. The Master said, ‘If a man manages to make himself correct, what difficulty will there be for him to take part in government? If he cannot make himself correct, what business has he with making others correct?’

17. On becoming prefect of Chu Fu, Tzu-hsia asked about government. The Master said, ‘Do not be impatient. Do not see only petty gains. If you are impatient, you will not reach your goal. If you see only petty gains, the great tasks will not be accomplished.’

18. The Governor of She said to Confucius, ‘In our village there is a man nicknamed “Straight Body”. When his father stole a sheep, he gave evidence against him.’ Confucius answered, ‘In our village those who are straight are quite different. Fathers cover up for their sons, and sons cover up for their fathers. Straightness is to be found in such behaviour.’

19. Fan Ch’ih asked about benevolence. The Master said, ‘While at home hold yourself in a respectful attitude; when serving in an official capacity be reverent; when dealing with others do your best. These are qualities that cannot be put aside, even if you go and live among the barbarians.’

24. Tzu-kung asked, ‘”All in the village like him.” What do you think of that?’
The Master said, ‘That is not enough.’
‘”All in the village dislike him.” What do you think of that?’
The Master said, ‘That is not enough either. “Those in his village who are good like him and those who are bad dislike him.” That would be better.’

27. The Master said, ‘Unbending strength, resoluteness, simplicty and reticence are close to benevolence.’

Book XIV

1… The Master said, ‘It is shameful to make salary your sole object, irrespective of whether the Way prevails in the state or not.’

10. The Master said, ‘It is more difficult not to complain of injustice when poor than not to behave with arrogance when rich.’

12. Tzu-lu asked about the complete man.
The Master said… If a man remembers what is right at the sight of profit, is ready to lay down his life in the face of danger, and does not forget sentiments he has repeated all his life even when he has been in straitened circumstances for a long time, he may be said to be a complete man.’

20. The Master said, ‘Claims made immodestly are difficulty to live up to.’

24. The Master said, ‘Men of antiquity studied to improve themselves; men today study to impress others.’

28. The Master said, ‘There are three things constantly on the lips of the gentleman none of which I have succeeded in following: “A man of benevolence never worries; a man of wisdom is never in two minds; a man of courage is never afraid.”

30. The Master said, ‘It is not the failure of others to appreciate your abilities that should trouble you, but rather your own lack of them.’

34. Someone said,
‘Repay an injury with a good turn.
What do you think of this saying?’
The Master said, ‘What, then, do you repay a good turn with?
You repay an injury with straightness, but you repay a good turn with a good turn.’

43. Yuan Jang sat waiting with his legs spread wide. The Master said, ‘To be neither modest nor deferential when young, to have passed on nothing worthwhile when grown up, and to refuse to die when old, that is what I call a pest.’ So saying, the Master tapped him on the shin with his stick.

Book XV

1. Duke Ling of Wei asked Confucius about military formations. Confucius answered, ‘I have, indeed, heard something about the use of sacrificial vessels, but I have never studied the matter of commanding troops.’ The next day he departed.

2… The Master said, ‘It comes as no surprise to the gentleman to find himself in extreme straits. The small man finding himself in extreme straits would throw over all restraint.’

8. The Master said, ‘To fail to speak to a man who is capable of benefiting is to let a man go to waste. To speak to a man who is incapable of benefiting is to let one’s words go to waste. A wise man lets neither men nor words go to waste.’

18. The Master said, ‘The gentleman has morality as his basic stuff and by observing the rites puts it into practice, by being modest gives it expression, and by being trustworthy in word brings it to completion. Such is a gentleman indeed!’

21. The Master said, ‘What the gentleman seeks, he seeks within himself; what the small man seeks, he seeks in others.’

22. The Master said, ‘The gentleman is conscious of his own superiority without being contentious, and comes together with other gentlemen without forming cliques.’

24. Tzu-kung asked, ‘Is there a single word which can be guided to conduct throughout one’s life?’ The Master said, ‘It is perhaps the word “shu”. Do not impose on others what you yourself do not desire.’

28. The Master said, ‘Be sure to go carefully into the case of the man who is disliked by the multitude. Be sure to go carefully into the case of the man who is liked by the multitude.’

31. The Master said, ‘I once spent all day thinking without taking food and all night thinking without going to bed, but found that I gained nothing from it. It would have been better for me to have spent the time in learning.’

32. The Master said, ‘The gentleman devotes his mind to attaining the Way and not to securing food. Go and till the land and you will end up by being hungry, as a matter of course; study, and you will end up with the salary of an official, as a matter of course. The gentleman worries about the Way, not about poverty.’

34. The Master said, ‘The gentleman cannot be appreciated in small things but is acceptable in great matters. A small man is not acceptable in great matters but can be appreciated in small things.’

35. The Master said, ‘Benevolence is more vital to the common people than even fire and water. In the case of fire and water, I have seen men die by stepping on them, but I have never seen any man die by stepping on benevolence.’

37. The Master said, ‘The gentleman is devoted to principle but not inflexible in small matters.’

38. The Master said, ‘In serving one’s lord, one should approach one’s duties with reverence and consider one’s pay as of secondary importance.’

Book XVI

5. Confucius said, ‘He stands to benefit who takes pleasure in three kinds of things. Equally, he stands to lose who takes pleasure in three other kinds of things. To take pleasure in the correct regulation of the rites and music, in singing the praises of other men’s goodness and in having a large number of excellent men as friends is to benefit. To take pleasure in showing off, in a dissolute life and in food and drink is to lose.’

7. Confucius said, ‘There are three things the gentleman should guard against. In youth when the blood and ch’i are still unsettled he should guard against the attraction of feminine beauty. In the prime of life when the blood and ch’i have become unyielding, he should guard against bellicosity. In old age when the blood and ch’i have declined, he should guard against acquisitiveness.’

9. Confucius said, ‘Those who are born with knowledge are the highest. Next come those who attain knowledge through study. Next again come those who turn to study after having been vexed by difficulty. The common people, in so far as they make no effort to study even after having been vexed by difficulties, are the lowest.’


3. The Master said, ‘It is only the most intelligent and the most stupid who are not susceptible to change.’

8. The Master said, ‘Yu, have you heard about the six qualities and the six attendant faults?’
‘Be seated and I shall tell you. To love benevolence without loving learning is liable to lead to foolishness. To love cleverness without loving learning is liable to lead to deviation from the right path. To love trustworthiness in word without loving learning is liable to lead to harmful behaviour. To love forthrightness without loving learning is liable to lead to intolerance. To love courage without loving learning is liable to lead to insubordination. To love unbending strength without loving learning is liable to lead to indiscipline.’

20. Ju Pei wanted to see Confucius. Confucius declined to see him on the grounds of illness. As soon as the man conveying the message had stepped out of the door, Confucius took his lute and sang, making sure that he heard it.

21. Tsai Wo asked about the three-year mourning period, saying ‘Even a full year is too long. If the gentleman gives up the practice of the rites for three years, the rites are sure to be in ruins; if he gives up the practice of music for three years, music is sure to collapse. A full year’s mourning is quite enough. After all, in the course of a year, the old grain having been used up, the new grain ripens, and fire is renewed by fresh drilling.’
The Master said, ‘Would you, then, be able to enjoy eating your rice and wearing your finery?’
‘yes, I would.’
‘If you are able to enjoy them, do so by all means. The gentleman in mourning finds no relish in good food, no pleasure in music, and no comforts in his own home. That is why he does not eat his rice and wear his finery. Since it appears that you enjoy them, then do so by all means.’
After Tsai Wo had left, the Master said, ‘How unfeeling Yu is. A child ceases to be nursed by his parents only when he is three years old. Three years’ mourning is observed throughout the Empire. Was Yu not given three years’ love by his parents?’

22. The Master said, ‘It is not easy matter for a man who always has a full stomach to put his mind to some use. Are there not such things as po and yi? Even playing these games is better than being idle.’

24… The Master said…’The gentleman has his dislikes. He dislikes those who proclaim the evil in others. He dislikes those who, being in inferior positions, slander their superiors. He dislikes those who, while possessing courage, lack the spirit of the rites. He dislikes those whose resoluteness is not tempered by understanding.’
The Master added, ‘Do you, Ssu, have your dislikes as well?’
‘I dislike those in whom plagiarizing passes for wisdom. I dislike those in whom insolence passes for courage. I dislike those in whom exposure of others passes for forthrightness.’

26. The Master said, ‘If by the age of forty a man is still disliked there is no hope for him.’


Book XIX

6. Tzu-hsia said, ‘Learn widely and be steadfast in your purpose, inquire earnestly and reflect on what is at hand, and there is no need for you to look for benevolence elsewhere.’

7. Tzu-hsia said, ‘The artisan, in any of the hundred crafts, masters his trade by staying in his workshop; the gentleman perfects his way through learning.’

9. Tzu-hsia said, ‘In the three following situations the gentleman gives a different impression. From a distance he appears formal; when approached, he appears cordial; in speech he appears stern.’

Book XX

2… The Master said, ‘The gentleman is generous without its costing him anything, works others hard without their complaining, has desires without being greedy, is casual without being arrogant, and is awe-inspiring without appearing fierce.’
Tzu-chang said, ‘What is meant by “being generous without its costing him anything”?’
The Master said, ‘If a man benefits the common people by taking advantage of the things around them that they find beneficial, is this not being generous without its costing him anything? If a man, in working others hard, chooses burdens they can support, who will complain? If, desiring benevolence, a man obtains it, where is the greed? The gentleman never dare neglect his manners whether he be dealing with the many or the few, the young or the old. Is this not being casual without being arrogant? The gentleman, with his robe and cap adjusted properly and dignified in his gaze, has a presence which inspires people who see him with awe. Is this not being awe-inspiring without appearing fierce?’
Tzu-chang said, ‘What is meant by the four wicked practices?’
The Master said, ‘To impose the death penalty without first attempting to reform is to be cruel; to expect results without first giving warning is to be tyrannical; to insist on a time limit when tardy in issuing orders is to cause injury. When something has to be given to others anyway, to be miserly in the actual giving is to be officious.’

Appendix 1

“According to the Tso chuan, Confucius died in the fourth month of the sixteenth year of Dike Ai (479 B.C.) p. 181.

“… Confucius’ rapid rise as an official is more likely to be the doing of his later admirers than of Duke Ting.” p. 185.

“As the Lu shih ch’un ch’iu was finished in 240 B.C., it shows that even at that date there was no generally accepted tradition that Confucius was ever prime minister or even ssu k’ung, and we should be sceptical about such traditions.” p. 187.

see p. 190. illustrative story and charismatic figures.

This story is used by Han Fei Tzu to illustrate the point that the ruler should get rid of anyone beyond his power to control. According to Legalist (法家) theory, reward and punishment are ‘the two handles’ by which a ruler can control his subjects. If a man does not respond to either, there is nothing the ruler can do either to encourage or to deter him. Such a person is what the world admires, but in the eyes of the Legalist ruler, he only resembles an excellent man but is not the genuine thing.” p. 192

Figure of Confucius being used to further Legalist ideas “advocating the suppression of and execution of a potential trouble maker, and act which contradicts everything he stood for.” p. 193.

Appendix 2

“the kind of ability to think for oneself that Confucius valued.” p. 200.

“ability to think and eagerness to learn are two sides to the same activity,” p. 201.

Confucius and the funeral of Yen Yuan. p. 202.

Followers of the Confucian tradition in subsequent ages placed excessive emphasis on outward conformity to the rites.” p. 213.

“Though Tzu-hsia was given to book learning, he did not place it above virtuous conduct.” p. 214

Tseng Tzu: “A Gentleman must be strong and resolute, for his burden is heavy and the road is long. He takes benevolence as his burden. Is that not heavy? Only with death does the road come to an end. Is that not long? (VIII.7).” p. 215.

“As we have seen, Tseng Tzu showed greater moral earnestness than intellectual ability while Tzu-hsia showed greater concern for minutiae in the rites than broad moral principle. Is is, perhaps, because of the character of these two disciples that later Confucianism was coloured by a certain staidness and pedantry.” p. 219.

To read:

Mencius ()

Laozi (老子) via wikimedia,

Tao te ching ()

Confucius (K’ung Tzu) (孔子)

Spring and Autumn period

Mount T’ai (泰山)… In the central part of modern Shantung and one of the most revered mountains in China.” p. 243.

“Pi Kan, XVIII.1, i.e.. Prince Pi Kan, the uncle of the tyrant Chou (q.v.), who is said to have had him killed and his heart taken out to see if the popular belief that the heart of the sage had seven apertures was true.” p. 243.

“Po Yi and Shu Chi’i were the sons of the Lord of Ju Chi. The father intended Shu Ch’i, the younger son, to succeed him, but when he died neither of his sons was willing to deprive the other of the succession and they both fled to the mountains and when King Wu overthrew the Yin they starved themselves to death on Mount Shou Yang, being ashamed to eat grain of a dynasty that came to power through the use of force.” p. 244.



The Analects (II)

Confucius, and D. C. Lau. The Analects (Lun Yü). Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1979. Print.

(Book I – Book X)

Book I

1… “Is not gentlemanly not to take offense when others fail to appreciate your abilities?”

4. Tseng Tzu said, ‘Every day I examine myself on three counts. In what I have undertaken on another’s behalf, have I failed to do my best? In my dealings with my friends have I failed to be trustworthy in what I say? Have I passed on to others anything that I have not tried out myself?

8… ”Make it your guiding principle to do your best for others and to be trustworthy in what you say. Do not accept as friend anyone who is not as good as you.’

12 Yu Tzu said, ‘Of the things brought about by the rites, harmony is the most valuable. Of the ways of the Former Kings, this is the most beautiful, and is followed alike in matters great and small, yet this will not always work: to aim always at harmony without regulating it by the rites simply because one knows only about harmony will not, in fact, work.’

14. The Master said, ‘The gentleman seeks neither a full belly not a comfortable home. He is quick in action but cautious in speech. He goes to men possessed of the Way to be put right. Such a man can be described as eager to learn.’

Book II

4. The Master said, ‘At fifteen I set my heart on learning; at thirty I took my stand; at forty I came to be free from doubts; at fifty I understood the Decree of Heaven; at sixty my ear was atuned; at seventy I followed my heart’s desire without overstepping the line.’

6. Meng Wu Po asked about being filial. The Master said, ‘Give your father and mother no other cause for anxiety than illness.’

13. Tzu-kung asked about the gentleman. The Master said, ‘He puts his words into action before allowing his words to follow his action.’

14. The Master said, ‘The gentleman enters into associations by not cliques; the small man enters into cliques but not associations.’

17. The Master said, ‘Yu, shall I tell you what it is to know. To say you know when you know, and to say you do not when you do not, that is knowledge.’

20…. The Master said, ‘Rule over them with dignity and they will be reverent; treat them with kindness and they will do their best; raise the good and instruct those who are backward and they will be imbued with enthusiasm.’

21… The Master said, ‘The Book of History says, “Oh! Simply by being a good son and friendly to his brothers a man can exert an influence upon government.” In so doing a man is, in fact, taking part in government…”

Book IV

1. The Master said, ‘Of the neighbourhoods benevolence is the most beautiful. How can the man be considered wise who, when he has the choice, does not settle in benevolence?’

7. The Master said, ‘In his errors a man is true to type. Observe the errors and you will know the man.’

9. The Master said, ‘There is no point in seeking the views of a Gentleman who, though he sets his hear on the Way, is ashamed of poor food and poor clothes.’

12. The Master said, ‘If one is guided by profit in one’s actions, one will incur much ill will.’

14. The Master said, ‘Do not worry because you have no official position. Worry about your qualifications. Do not worry because no one appreciates your abilities. Seek to be worthy of appreciation.’

15… Tseng Tzu sai, ‘The way of the Master consists in doing one’s best and in using oneself as a measure to gauge others. That is all.’

16. The Master said, ‘The gentleman understand what is moral. The small man understands what is profitable.’

17. The Master said, ‘When you meet someone better than yourself, turn your thoughts to becoming his equal. When you meet someone not as good as you are, look within and examine your own self.’

18. The Master said, ‘In serving your father and mother you ought to dissuade them from doing wrong in the gentlest way. If you see your advice being ignored, you should not become disobedient but remain reverent. You should not complain even if in so doing you wear yourself out.’

24. The Master said, ‘The gentleman desires to be halting in speech but quick in action.’

Book V

15. Tzu-kung asked, ‘Why was K’ung Wen Tzy called “wen”?’
The Master said, ‘He was quick and eager to learn: he was not ashamed to seek the advice of those who were beneath him in station. That is why he was called “wen”.

20. Chi Wen Tzu always thought three times before taking action. When the Master was told of this, he commented, ‘Twice is quite enough.’

21. The Master said, ‘Cunning words, an ingratiating face and utter servility, the things Tso-ch’iu Ming found shameful. I, too, find them shameful. To be friendly towards someone while concealing one’s hospitality, this Tso-ch’iu Ming found shameful. I, too, find it shameful.’

Book VI

11. The Master said, ‘How admirable Hui is! Living in a mean dwelling on a bowlful of rice and a ladleful of water is a hardship most men would find intolerable, but Hui does not allow this to affect his joy. How admirable Hui is!’

22… The Master said, ‘The benevolent man reaps the benefit only after overcoming difficulties. That can be called benevolence.’

Book VII

3. The Master said, ‘It is these things that cause me concern: failure to cultivate virtue, failure to go more deeply into what I have learned, inability, when I am told what is right, to move to where it is, and inability to reform myself when I have defects.’

6. The Master said, ‘I have set my heart on the Way, base myself on virtue, lean upon benevolence for support and take my recreation in the arts.’

11… The Master said, ‘I would not take with me anyone who would try to fight a tiger with his bare hands or to walk across the River and die in the process without regrets. If I took anyone it would have to be a man who, when faced with a task, was fearful of failure and who, while fond of making plans, was capable of successful execution.’

14. The Master heard the shao (the music of Shun) in Ch’i and for three months did not notice the taste of the meat he ate. He said, ‘I never dreamt that the joys of music could reach such heights.’

22. The Master said, ‘Even when walking in the company of two other men, I am bound to be able to learn from them. The good points of the one I copy; the bad points of the other I correct in myself.’

25. The Master instructs under four heads: culture, moral conduct, doing one’s best and being trustworthy in what one says.

31…the Master said, ‘I am a fortunate man. Whenever I make a mistake, other people are sure to notice it.’

36. The Master said, ‘Extravagance means ostentation, frugality means shabbiness. I would rather be shabby than ostentatious.’

37. The Master said, ‘The gentleman is easy of mind, while the small man is always full of anxiety.’


5. Tseng Tzu said, ‘To be able yet to ask the advice of those who are not able. To have many talents yet to ask the advice of those who have few. To have yet to appear to want. To be full yet to appear empty. To be transgressed against yet not to mind. It was towards this end that my friend used to direct his efforts.’

9. The Master said, ‘The common people can be made to follow a path but not to understand it.’

10. The Master said, ‘Being fond of courage while detesting poverty will lead men to unruly behaviour. Excessive detestation of men who are not benevolent will provoke them to unruly behaviour.’

11. The Master said, ‘Even with a man as gifted as the Duke of Chou, if he was arrogant and miserly, then the rest of his qualities would not be worthy of admiration.’

13. The Master said, ‘have the firm faith to devote yourself to learning, and abide to the death in the good way. Enter not a state that is in peril; stay not in a state that is in danger. Show yourself when the Way prevails in the Empire, but hide yourself when it does not. It is a shameful matter to be poor and humble when the Way prevails in the state. Equally, it is a shameful matter to be rich and noble when the Way falls into disuse in the state.’

Book IX

1. The occasions on which the Master talked about profit, Destiny and benevolence were rare.

4. There were four things the Master refused to have anything to do with: he refused to entertain conjectures or insist on certainty; he refused to be inflexible or to be egotistical.

29. The Master said, ‘The man of wisdom is never in two minds; the man of benevolence never worries; the man of courage is never afraid.’

Book X

1. In the local community, Confucius was submissive and seemed to be inarticulate. In the ancestral temple and at court, though fluent, he did not speak lightly.

2. At court, when speaking with Counsellors of lower rank he was affable; when speaking with Counsellors of upper rang, he was frank though respectful In the presence of his lord, his bearing, though respectful, was composed.

7… In periods of purification, he invariably changed to a more austere diet and, when at home, did not sit in his usual place.

8… He did not eat food that was not properly prepared nor did he eat except at the proper times… Even when there was plenty of meat, he avoided eating more meat than rice.
Only in the case of wine did he not set himself a rigid limit. He simply never drank to the point of becoming confused.

10.  He did not converse at meals; nor did he talk in bed.

17. The stables caught fire. The Master, on returning from court, asked, ‘Was anyone hurt?’ He did not ask about the horses.

25… When he met someone wearing a ceremonial cap or someone blind, even though they were well-known to him, he invariably showed them respect.

The Analects (I)

Confucius, and D. C. Lau. The Analects (Lun Yü). Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1979. Print.


“Philosophers who are interested in morals can generally be divided into two kinds, those who are interested in moral character and those who are interested in moral acts.” 10

“Benevolence (jen) is the most important moral quality a man can posses.” 14

“in dealings with others one should be chung (XIII.19)… chung means ‘doing one’s best'”. 16

“tsung fa… Under this system, succession passes to the eldest son by the principal wife. Younger sons or sons by concubines become founders of their own noble houses.” 18.

“If being a good son makes a good subject, being a good father will also make a good ruler.” 18

“Geographically, one loves members of one’s family more than one’s neighbours, one’s neighbours more than one’s fellow villagers, and so on. Socially, one loves members of one’s own social class more than those of another class.” 18

“the observance of of the three-year mourning period is, in some sense a repayment of the love received from one’s parents in the first years of one’s life.” 19.

“the practice of benevolence depends on oneself aline, and not on others.’ )XII.I._” 19.

“Of all the things that are likely to distort a man’s moral judgment and deflect him from his moral purpose, self-interest is the strongest, the most persistent and the most insidious… at the sight of profit one should think of what is right (XVI.12, XVI.10 and XIX.1).” 20

“But although Confucius emphasized the difficulty of practising benevolence, he also made it abundantly clear that whether we succeed or not depends solely on ourselves.” 21

‘The man of wisdom is never in two minds’ the man of benevolence never worries; the man of courage is never afraid’ (IX.29). 22

“Another attribute of the wise man is that he has knowledge of men…. he is a good judge of character. In the Chinese view, the most important fact contributing to the difficulty of predicting the future lies in the unpredictable nature of man.” 22

“‘Those who are born with knowledge are the highest. Next come those who attain knowledge through study. Next again come those who turn to study after having been vexed by difficulty. The common people, in so far as they make no effort tot study even after having been vexed by difficulty, are the lowest’ (XVi.9), but he made no claim to be amongst those born with knowledge.” 23

“To say you know when you know, and to say you do not when you do not, that is knowledge’ (II.17).” 23

“neither great goodness nor great wickedness can be accomplished by men devoid of courage.” 24

“To be hsin in word applies to all one’s words. It concerns, besides promises, resolutions concerning future conduct, or even plain statements of facts. Not to carry out a resolution is to fail to be hsin; to have made a statement not borne out by facts- whether they be present or future facts – is equally to fail to be hsin.” 25.

“The safest course to take is never to make any claims until the deed is done. Thus, the gentleman ‘puts his words into action before allowing his words to follow his action’ (II.13). Confucius’ general advise is that one should be quick to act but slow to speak (I.14, IV.24).” 25.

“There are bound to be cases where an inflexible adherence to the principle of trustworthiness in word will lead to action that is not moral. Confucius describes ‘a man who insists on keeping his word and seeing his actions through to the end’ as showing ‘a stubborn petty-mindedness’ (XIII.20).” 25

“A man should be respectful in his intercourse with others because by so doing he can hope to be spared insults and humiliations.” 26.

“As a character of moral agents, benevolence has more to do with disposition and motive than objective circumstances.” 27

“Heaven cares profoundly about the welfare of the common people and the Emperor is set up expressly to promote that welfare.” 28.

“Confucius said, ‘At fifty, I understood (chih) t’ien ming’ (II.4).” 28

“If a man is convinced that all the desirable things in life are due to Destiny, he is more likely to see the futility of pursuing them and instead bend his efforts to the pursuit of morality. Morality is the only object a man ought to pursue because being moral lies in making just such an effort and not in the successful outcome of one’s action.” 29

“Study and the holding of office are the twin activities inseparable from the concept of the gentleman.” p. 31.

“‘It is shameful,” he said, ‘to make salary your sole object, irrespective of whether the Way prevails in the state or not’ (XIV.I).” 31.

“When the way prevails in the state, speak and act with perilous high-mindness; when the Way does not prevail, act with perilous high-mindness but speak with self-effacing diffidence’ (XIV.3.)” 32.

“not only is it ‘a shameful matter to be rich and noble when the Way falls into disuse in the state’, it is equally ‘a shameful matter to be poor and humble when the Way prevails in the state’ (VIII.13).” p. 32.

“The ultimate purpose of government is the welfare of the common people (min). This is the most basic principle in Confucianism and has remained unchanged throughout the ages.” p. 32.

“The promotion of the welfare of the common people begins with satisfying their material needs.” p. 32.

“‘Guide them by edicts, keep them in line with punishments, and the common people will stay out of trouble but will have no sense of shame.'” (Xii.7) p. 33.

“if the ruler fails to be correct himself but insists on punishing his subjects for being incorrect, he will be setting himself above the law and the common people will be conscious of the injustice.” p. 34.

“‘In administering your government, what need is there for you to kill? Just desire the good yourself and the common people will be good. The virtue of the gentleman is like wind; the virtue of the small man is like grass. Let the wind blow over the grass and it is sure to bend.’ (XII.19) p.34-35.

“The Taoist ruler genuinely does nothing because the Empire functions best when left alone. The Confucian ruler only appears to do nothing because the moral influence he exerts works imperceptibly.” p.35.

“The sole test of a good ruler is whether he succeeds in promoting thte welfare of the common people.” p. 37.

“‘When there is a preponderance of native substance over acquired refinement, the result will be churlishness. When there is a preponderance of acquired refinement over native substance, the result will be pedantry. Only a well-balanced admixture of these two will result in gentlemanliness’ (VI.18).” p. 38

“A man may have a strong urge to show respect towards another man in a given society, but unless he knows the code of behaviour by which this respect is given expression, he will either fail completely to express it or, at most, succeed only in expressing it in a manner not altogether acceptable in that society.” p. 38-39.

“For Confucius perfect goodness was more important than perfect beauty. Whether a piece of music is acceptable or not depends on its moral quality.” p. 40.

“In criticizing the ruler and his government, one should also resort to quotations from the Odes… ‘The one who speaks gives no offense, while the one who hears can take warning’.” (Shih ching chu shu, I.IIb) p. 42.

“‘Tzu-hsia said, ‘I have heard it said: life and death are a matter of Destiny; wealth and honour depend on Heaven.’ (XII.5)” p. 45.

“‘The Master said, ‘use your ears (wen) widely but leave out what is doubtful; repeat the rest with caution and you will make few mistakes. Use your eyes (chien) widely and leave out what is hazardous; put the rest into practice with caution and you will have few regrets.’ (II.18) p. 46.

“‘If one learns from others but does not think, one will be bewildered. If, on the other hand, one thinks but does not learn from others, one will be in peril’ (II.15)” p. 47.

“If one’s aim is to make advances in knowledge, both thinking and learning are equally necessary, but in cases where one has no such aim, through learning one can at least gain something by acquainting oneself with what is already known, but one is unlikely to make any gains at all if one thinks in vacuo.” p. 47

“‘With the rites, it is better to err on the side of frugality than on the side of extravagance’ (III.4). All things being equal, it is better to be frugal.” p. 48.

“one has to be constantly on the alert to the possibility that a rule may need rethinking at any moment and on any occasion.” p. 50.

“while a rule can remain right only if it is constantly measured against the demands of principles, a principle cannot do without rules if it is to be put into effect. This dialogue between rule and principle constitutes the essence of Confucius’ moral thinking.” p. 50.

“All moral rules have implicit in them some principle or principles. A rule can thus always be judge by its success in realizing these principles. In other words, moral rules have built-in standards by which they can be judge.” p. 50

“Confucius would not tolerate any student who, because he failed to think, was unable to discover new applications for known principles. He said, ‘When I have pointed out one corner of a square to anyone and he does not come back with the other three, I will not point it out to him a second time.'” p. 51.

“‘I have never enlighten anyone who has not been driven to distraction by trying to understand a difficulty or has not got into a frenzy trying to put his ideas into words’ (VII.8).” p. 51.

“…Confucius could hold out no hope of reward either in this life or in the next. The reward lies in the doing of what is good, and this constitutes the joy of following the Way.” p. 52

“He has great respect for the wisdom of the past but he did not accept it uncritically. For him the only way of making progress is to reflect on what has been handed down to use from the past.” p. 52.

“He was anything but dogmatic” p. 52.

“It cannot be denied that, over the centuries, Confucianism acquired a lot of dogmas and developed authoritarian tendencies, but it would be as grossly unfair to lay these at Confucius’ door as to blame Jesus for the excesses of the Church in later ages.” p. 52.

“‘In a hamlet of ten households, there bound to be those who are my equal in doing their best for others and in being trustworthy in what they say, but they are unlikely to be as eager to learn as I am’ (V.28)” p. 53.

“‘In the eating of coarse rice and the drinking of water, the using of one’s elbow for a pillow, joy is to be found. Wealth and rank attained through immoral means have as much to do with me as passing clouds. (VII.16)” p. 54.