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This book was converted from its physical edition to the digital format by a community of volunteers. You may find it for free on the web. Purchase of the Kindle edition includes wireless delivery.

30 review for The Analects of Confucius (from the Chinese Classics)

  1. 5 out of 5

    Sean Barrs

    “Is it not indeed a pleasure to acquire knowledge and constantly to exercise oneself therein?” It really is. It’s a noble pursuit, forever trying to learn and improve and become the best you possible. And in a way, that’s the main drive behind these teachings: self-improvement. I’ve met so many people in my life that never reached their potential or realised it. So many people don’t dare to try. Growing up, I had some real intelligent friends who could have gone on to do wonderful things, bu “Is it not indeed a pleasure to acquire knowledge and constantly to exercise oneself therein?” It really is. It’s a noble pursuit, forever trying to learn and improve and become the best you possible. And in a way, that’s the main drive behind these teachings: self-improvement. I’ve met so many people in my life that never reached their potential or realised it. So many people don’t dare to try. Growing up, I had some real intelligent friends who could have gone on to do wonderful things, but they were too lazy to exercise themselves (physically and mentally) to achieve what they ought to have done. They quit school or they didn’t put any effort into work. They ended up in a dead-end job when they could have done so much more with themselves had they the will and the drive to succeed and become the best version of themselves. People give up all too easy and settle for less. It’s sad to see. And this book pushes against such a defeatist mindset, it argues through strength of virtue that we can become more contended with life. We can succeed and we can be happy. Continued effort is all aspects of life is the key, continued effort in maintaining family relationships and mastering abilities are essential for developing strong moral character. Education, and an exploration of literature, are the quintessential ingredients to be able to utilise these effectively. All in all, knowledge is everything. “When everyone hates a person, you should investigate thoroughly, and when everyone loves a person, you should also investigate thoroughly.” This gives one the integrity to observe the world in their own personal way and to make their own decisions about the people in it. Being guided by others is easy, we need the strength of character to make judgements based upon what we see and what we think. And that’s rather important because only then can we develop wisdom and come to understand the world. The words of Confucius are timeless in this regard, they are true, and they are very powerful in the right hands. For me, this was quite a refreshing read. Lately, I feel like the world is full of negativity and defeat. These ideas give me hope that one day we may be better. Confucius held a strong ideal for man, and although he didn’t think his ideals were necessarily rewarding, I think there’s much to be learnt from them.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Darwin8u

    子曰:「唯上知與下愚不移。」 The Master said, 'It is only the most intelligent and the most stupid who are not susceptible to change." - Confucius, The Analects, XVII.3 I rarely re-read books. An exception to this rule are ethical or religious texts. I love Meditations by Marcus Aurelius and will read this in dribs and drabs throughout the year. The same is true of the New Testament, the Wisdom Books, Psalms, parts of the Book of Mormon, and the Analects. I am drawn to some of the more universal teachings in th 子曰:「唯上知與下愚不移。」 The Master said, 'It is only the most intelligent and the most stupid who are not susceptible to change." - Confucius, The Analects, XVII.3 I rarely re-read books. An exception to this rule are ethical or religious texts. I love Meditations by Marcus Aurelius and will read this in dribs and drabs throughout the year. The same is true of the New Testament, the Wisdom Books, Psalms, parts of the Book of Mormon, and the Analects. I am drawn to some of the more universal teachings in these books (the Golden Rule seems to find a spot everywhere). Anyway, I'm still trying to avoid thinking too much about Trump by reading a book a day and so I figured this was a good time to read, again, the Analects* (I'm working on a longer book so, I rely on the help of smaller books to keep me one my 1-per-day pace). I am not sure if I've come across a translation I prefer, but I've read several now. Because I don't actually read Chinese, I'm not I guess looking for the perfect translation. I'm looking for one that seems to dance with the right amount of poetry and truth. I'm getting closer and feel as I read the different translations I can circle around some of the truth of what was originally spoken without ever hearing the original text. For example, consider the opening quote: The Master said, "There are only the wise of the highest class, and the stupid of the lowest class, who cannot be changed." - James Legge translation Confucius said: “Only the most wise and the most foolish do not change.” - A. Charles Muller translation The Master said, "It is only the most intelligent and the most stupid who are not susceptible to change." - Lau translation * With Trump's art of the deal, I'm expecting us to belong to the Chinese in a year or two, so the more I understand of the Chinese the better I'll be treated in the reconditioning camps, me thinks.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Lawrence

    In a class taught by General George S. Patton, IV at the George Washington University in the early 80's, reflecting on his experience in Vietnam, he summarized the failure of US policy in SE Asia as a failure to understand the history and culture of the region. Years later as I prepared to deploy to Afghanistan it struck me that much of our formal education in my lifetime focused on European and Western philosophers and histories, only perpetuating the vicious cycle which the son of the famous Wo In a class taught by General George S. Patton, IV at the George Washington University in the early 80's, reflecting on his experience in Vietnam, he summarized the failure of US policy in SE Asia as a failure to understand the history and culture of the region. Years later as I prepared to deploy to Afghanistan it struck me that much of our formal education in my lifetime focused on European and Western philosophers and histories, only perpetuating the vicious cycle which the son of the famous World War II general observed. In the same sense that reading the Qur'an helped me to gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of the Islamic currents that flow through Afghan and Central Asian culture Confucius provides context that helped in gaining an appreciation of the differences between Asian or Eastern and European or Western thought. General Stanley McChrystal famously reported in a classified assessment leaked by Bob Woodward and the Washington Post in August 2009 that the US and our NATO allies had the wrong "mindset" for our operations in Afghanistan. Would suggest that our focus on Plato, Aristotle and other European philosophers and their associated political, economic, and military theorists which suited us for combat and commerce in Europe and with Europeans should be balanced with study of Confucius and Asian philosophers if we hope to succeed in a "pivot" to the Asia-Pacific region. As the philosophy of Plato and Aristotle emerged during a period of conflict between Greek and Persian power so too did Confucius (and Sun Tzu) emerge during the "Waring States" period of Chinese history from roughly 475-221 BCE which interestingly overlaps the emergence of the famous Greek philosophers.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Letitia

    It’s depressing to think that the teachings of Confucius constituted a religion in most of East Asia – i.e. they were wise sayings and stories of a great man from a certain time, that have been selectively reinterpreted by kings and heads of state, force-fed to generations of schoolchildren in various eras as a substitute for original thought, and generally manipulated out of context to subjugate a nation into obedience over and over again. That’s probably why many Chinese intellectuals and progr It’s depressing to think that the teachings of Confucius constituted a religion in most of East Asia – i.e. they were wise sayings and stories of a great man from a certain time, that have been selectively reinterpreted by kings and heads of state, force-fed to generations of schoolchildren in various eras as a substitute for original thought, and generally manipulated out of context to subjugate a nation into obedience over and over again. That’s probably why many Chinese intellectuals and progressives (who have not studied The Analects objectively, or perhaps cannot) abhor Confucius and consider his teachings part of the machinery of imperialism and feudal tyrants. Note that my five-star rating is not for The Analects per se, but specifically for the edition with Simon Leys’ excellent translation and notes (see below for more details). Three Things you need to know about Confucius: 1) Though he is lauded as China's Supreme Teacher, his goal in life was to be a politician and he failed at that. He basically believed he was the Hari Seldon of China (witnessing the crumbling of the Zhou dynasty, his Heavenly mission was to “revive [the Duke of Zhou’s] grand design, restore the world order under a new ethical basis, and salvage the entire civilization”). That’s why he educated and built up a ‘cabinet’ of disciples around him in order to usher in a new model government*. 2) The Analects are to Confucius as the Gospels are to Jesus: not written by him personally, but a record of his sayings and deeds compiled by (in Confucius’ case) a group of his disciples and grand-disciples. 3) Confucius lived and taught in the 6th century BCE. To put things in perspective, that’s when Buddha and Zoroaster were active, and 10 years after Confucius dies, Socrates is born. That means these teachings in the Analects are old. As Mr. Leys states in his introduction, “no book in the entire history of the world has exerted, over a longer period of time, a greater influence on a larger number of people than this slim volume." * Ironically, this led to the failure of his political career, because Confucius and his disciples threatened the incompetent incumbents and thus were not offered positions in court. Ideas - The greatest innovation Confucius devised is inventing his own occupation of the private teacher. - Confucius’ second most revolutionary idea was redefining the term 君子 (junzi, meaning nobleman / gentleman) to mean anyone who was educated and moral, so that commoners could aspire to become junzi and join the ruling class even though they were not born to aristocratic families. Selected Quotes from The Analects Each of the 20 chapters contains passages on various topics; they are largely not organised thematically. For my own records, I’ve included one or two sample quotes that represent(s) one of the strong themes from each chapter. Chapter 1: virtue 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." 1.16. The Master said: “Don’t worry if people don’t recognize your merits; worry that you may not recognize theirs." Chapter 2: filial piety 2.6. Lord Meng Wu asked about filial piety. The Master said: “The only time a dutiful son ever makes his parents worry is when he is sick." Chapter 3: ritual 3.13. Wangsun Jia asked: “What does this saying mean: ‘Flatter the god of the kitchen rather than the god of the house’?" The Master said: “Nonsense. If you offend Heaven, prayer is useless.” (Translation note) Wangsun Jia: minister of Duke Ling of Wei, to whose court Confucius had come, seeking employment. The proverbial saying which W is quoting here is an expression of cynical folk wisdom: rather ingratiate yourself with the servants who can feed you than with their master, whose distant benevolence is of no practical use. The exact intention of Wangsun Jia is not clear. Either he is asking advice for the advancement of his own career: should he court the favour of the duke (“the god of the house”) or of his favorite (“the god of the kitchen”)? Or, under the guise of a question, he may be addressing a veiled warning to Confucius: Do not trust the duke too much; if you wish to succeed here, it is with me you will have to deal. The question may be ambiguous, but the answer is clear: Confucius condemns all opportunistic maneuvers––the only right policy is to follow the dictates of morality. – See why Leys is a delightful guide for this voyage? Chapter 4: ren, i.e. humanity, benevolence 4.16. The Master said: “A gentleman considers what is just; a small man considers what is expedient." Chapter 5: evaluating the disciples 5.10. Zai Yu was sleeping during the day. The Master said: “Rotten wood cannot be carved; dung walls cannot be troweled. What is the use of scolding him?" The Master said: “There was a time when I used to listen to what people said and trusted that they would act accordingly, but now I listen to what they say and watch what they do. It is Zai Yu who made me change." Chapter 6: modesty 6.15. The Master said: “Meng Zhifan was no boaster. In a rout, he remained behind to cover the retreat. It was only upon reaching the city gate that he spurred his horse and said: “It was not courage that kept me at the rear, but the slowness of my horse." Chapter 7: Confucius on himself 7.7. The Master said: “I never denied my teaching to anyone who sought it, even if he was too poor to offer more than a token present for his tuition." 7.27 The Master fished with a line, not with a net. When hunting, he never shot a roosting bird. Chapter 8: cultivation 8.17. “Learning is like a chase in which, as you fail to catch up, you fear to lose what you have already gained." Chapter 9: gentlemen do not specialise 9.7. Lao said: “The Master said that his failure in public life forced him to develop various skills." Chapter 10: Confucian humanism 10.17. The stables burned. The Master left court and asked: “Was anyone hurt?” He did not inquire about the horses. Note that in Confucius’s time, a horse was much more valuable than a stable hand. Chapter 11: moderation is best 11.16. Zigong asked: “Which is the better: Zizhang or Zixia?” The Master said: “Zizhang overshoots and Zixia falls short.” Zigong said: “Then Zizhang must be the better?” The Master said: “Both miss the mark." Chapter 12: ritual is preferable to laws 12.13. The Master said: “I could adjudicate lawsuits as well as anyone. But I would prefer to make lawsuits unnecessary." Chapter 13: principles of government 13.1. Zilu asked about government. The Master said: “Guide them. Encourage them.” Zilu asked him to develop these precepts. The Master said: “Untiringly." 13.6. The Master said: “He is straight: things work out by themselves, without his having to issue orders. He is not straight: he has to multiply orders, which are not being followed anyway." Chapter 14: loyalty 14.22. Zilu asked how to serve a prince. The Master said: “Tell him the truth even if it offends him." Chapter 15: discouraging glib talk 15.41. The Master said: "Words are merely for communication." Chapter 16: learning 16.9. Confucius said: “Those who have innate knowledge are the highest. Next come those who acquire knowledge through learning. Next again come those who learn through the trials of life. Lowest are the common people who go through the trials of life without learning anything." Chapter 17: polite insult 17.20. Ru Bei wanted to see Confucius. Confucius declined on the grounds of illness. As Ru Bei’s messenger was leaving, the Master took up his zithern and sang loudly enough for him to hear. Chapter 18: Confucius withdraws 18.4. The people of Qi sent to Lu a present of singing and dancing girls. Lord Ji Huan accepted them and, for three days, he did not attend court. Confucius left. Chapter 19: flexibility 19.11. Zixia said: “Major principles suffer no transgression. Minor principles may allow for compromise." Chapter 20: meaning and function of language 20.3. Confucius said: “He who does not understand fate is incapable of behaving as a gentleman. He who does not understand the rites is incapable of taking his stand. He who does not understand words is incapable of understanding men." My Reactions The first thing I need to remember when thinking about Confucius is the context that he lived in. It’s easy to blame him for an East Asian culture where originality and disagreement have been so taboo for so long. In the Warring States era, a feudal society with a high turnover rate of kings and lords, it’s not surprising that harmony was valued (perhaps overvalued) because it was so rare. Maybe one of the most important myths to debunk about Confucianism is that LOYALTY DOES NOT EQUAL SUBMISSIVENESS. Confucius emphasizes loyalty, and teaches disciples to advise kings to do what is right and to correct them when they are wrong (3.6, 14.22), and he himself stood up to many monarchs in his time. To him, loyalty is to stand by your king and advise him and protect him. It doesn’t mean to obey orders when those orders are immoral. If the foolish king refuses to listen, then it’s time to bounce (and bounce Confucius did, between many kingdoms when he couldn’t get a word in, see 18.4). Another notable concept absent from The Analects is the concept of punishment. When we today learn about the cruel traditional punishments inflicted by Chinese regimes, or the perverse measures that civil service scholars went to in the name of studiousness, little do we realise Confucius would cringe at such extremities. This punitive culture developed as a result of Legalism, which enforced harsh discipline and helped the state of Qin ascend to empire a couple hundred years after Confucius died. Further Reading: Mencius, who unified all the fragmented schools of post-Confucianism, and advanced the philosophy in the directions of both politics (opining that the common people were more important than rulers, and legitimising tyrannicide if necessary) and human nature (believing that all people were inherently born good). Translation I highly recommend the W. W. Norton edition, with translation and notes by Simon Leys. Most of these sayings are actually responses to certain events, and reading the responses without understanding the events will leave you scratching your head or wanting to ragequit. Leys' extensive notes are excellent; they tell us the stories and explain his rationale as well as what D.C. Lau, Arthur Waley and other previous translators have thought. It helped that prior to this, I had primed myself with a picture-book version of his life and stories: Confucius – Sage of the Orient by Singaporean publisher Canfonian. (I loved these books growing up! Must buy for future children.)

  5. 5 out of 5

    Stevie

    Confucius has a lot of wisdom. Anyone who is serious about living life well would do well to read the Analects. Poignant Quotes: If you try to guide the common people with coercive regulations and keep them in line with punishments, the common people will become evasive and will have no sense of shame. If, however, you guide them with Virtue, and keep them in line by means of ritual, the people will have a sense of shame and will rectify themselves. Give your parents no cause for anxiety other than Confucius has a lot of wisdom. Anyone who is serious about living life well would do well to read the Analects. Poignant Quotes: If you try to guide the common people with coercive regulations and keep them in line with punishments, the common people will become evasive and will have no sense of shame. If, however, you guide them with Virtue, and keep them in line by means of ritual, the people will have a sense of shame and will rectify themselves. Give your parents no cause for anxiety other than the possibility that they might fall ill. Both keeping past teachings alive and understanding the present - someone able to do this is worthy of being a teacher. If you learn without thinking about what you have learned, you will be lost. If you think without learning, however, you will fall into danger. This is wisdom: to recognize what you know as what you know, and recognize what you do not know as what you do not know. When you see someone who is worthy, concentrate upon becoming their equal; when you see someone who is unworthy, use this as an opportunity to look within yourself. People in ancient times were not eager to speak, because they would be ashamed if their actions did not measure up to their words. Zigong said, "What I do not wish others to do unto me, I also wish not to do unto others." The Master said, "Ah, Zigong! That is something quite beyond you." When Zilu learned something, but had not yet been able to put it into practice, his only fear was that he would learn something new. He was diligent and loved learning, and was not ashamed to ask advice from his inferiors. This is why he was accorded the title "Cultured." I should just give up! I have yet to meet someone who is able to perceive his own faults and then take himself to task inwardly. One who knows it is not equal to one who loves it, and one who loves it is not the equal of one who takes joy in it. When walking with two other people, I will always find a teacher among them. I focus on those who are good and seek to emulate them, and focus on those who are bad in order to be reminded of what needs to be changed in myself. The gentleman is self-possessed and relaxed, while the petty man is perpetually full of worry. The Master was affable yet firm, awe-inspiring without being severe, simultaneously respectful and relaxed. Learn as if you will never catch up, and as if you feared losing what you have already attained. When a man is rebuked with exemplary words after having made a mistake, he cannot help but agree with them. However, what is important is that he change himself in order to accord with them. When a man is praised with words of respect, he cannot help but be pleased with them. However, what is important is that he actually live up to them. Yan Hui is of no help to me - he is pleased with everything that I say. The Master said, "The Good person is hesitant to speak. When being Good is so difficult, how can one not be hesitant to speak about it?" The Master said, "The gentleman is free of anxiety and fear. If you look inside yourself and find no faults, what cause is there for anxiety or fear?" A gentleman helps others to realize their good qualities, rather than their bad. A petty person does the opposite. Imagine a person who can recite the several hundred odes by heart but, when delegated a governmental task, is unable to carry it out, or when sent abroad as an envoy, is unable to engage in repartee. No matter how many odes he might have memorized, what good are they to him? Those who possess Virtue will inevitably have something to say, whereas those who have something to say do not necessarily possess Virtue. Those who are Good will necessarily display courage, but those who display courage are not necessarily Good. Do not worry that you are not recognized by others; worry rather that you yourself lack ability. Yuan Rang sat casually, with his legs sprawled out, waiting for Confucius. On seeing him, the Master remarked, "A young man devoid of humility and respect for his elders will grow into an adult who contributes nothing to his community. Growing older and older without the dignity to pass away, he becomes a burden on society." He then rapped him on the shin with his staff. The gentleman does not promote someone solely based upon their words, nor does he dismiss words simply on account of the person who uttered them. To make a mistake and yet to not change your ways - that is what is called truly making a mistake. When attending a gentleman, there are three types of errors one may commit. To speak when it is not yet time to speak - this is called being rash. To not speak when it is time to speak - this is called being secretive. to speak without taking into account the countenance of one's lord - this is called being blind. Learning broadly and firmly retaining what one has learned, being incisive in one's questioning and able to reflect upon what is near at hand - Goodness is to found in this. Love God Know God Love others Become like Christ - humbly observe others to emulate the holy and discard the unruly Make Disciplemakers

  6. 5 out of 5

    Roy Lotz

    There are two things that are commonly labeled ‘philosophy’. The first is philosophy sensu strictu, which deals with technical problems in its various branches, such as epistemology, metaphysics, ethics, etc. The other is what one could call a “philosophy of life”, a vague category that one encounters in religious texts, works of literature, poetry, and also intermingled with formal philosophy. Confucianism, insofar as I understand it, mostly falls into the latter category. The Analects mainly There are two things that are commonly labeled ‘philosophy’. The first is philosophy sensu strictu, which deals with technical problems in its various branches, such as epistemology, metaphysics, ethics, etc. The other is what one could call a “philosophy of life”, a vague category that one encounters in religious texts, works of literature, poetry, and also intermingled with formal philosophy. Confucianism, insofar as I understand it, mostly falls into the latter category. The Analects mainly takes the form of aphorisms that are interspersed in conversation between Confucius and his various disciples. I suppose the closest parallel I can think of would be Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations, although at times the Analects reads more like the Gospels. There are some fine maxims in here, but also many sections that are alternately baffling or boring. Why must I wade through descriptions of ‘the Master’s’ clothing style? There is no narrative or didactic drive to the book; it just floats along from parable to aphorism, with no apparent connection. If there were not some interesting quotes, it would be a very dry read. If I were asked to shoehorn Confucius’s thinking into Western philosophy, I would say that he is propounding a form of virtue ethics, with a special emphasis on social life. Although the final goal is to become a ‘superior man’, this is accomplished through the fulfillment of various duties, in accordance with custom and etiquette. Propriety is key here. If it is considered proper to do something, one should do it (provided that it does not conflict with basic morality). This will seem very strange and perhaps servile to some modern readers, I expect, but I can see the logical kernel behind this idea. Abiding by custom and performing social rituals could have the effect of realigning one’s own personal interests with the interests of the community, leading to more harmonious social relationships. I especially appreciate Confucius’s emphasis on action instead of speculation. A person can be the world’s foremost expert on Kantian and utilitarian ethics and still be a serial killer. But, be that as it may, I would have appreciated a more focused, more organized, and more didactic treatment. In Western works, the reasons for accepting arguments are usually made very explicit. In this book, by contrast, the maxims appeal more for their apparent prudence and wisdom than from the weight of reasoning. Still, I do appreciate the way that the lessons are put forward, because they beg the reader to figure out the reasoning behind the arguments for themselves, rather than being spoon-fed by the author. For a book that I found rather dull when I was working through it, I have spent a lot of time thinking about its contents afterwards. So kudos to you, Confucius, your reputation is well-deserved.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Michael Connolly

    When Confucius was asked what he thought about the idea of being kind to someone who does you wrong, he pointed out that this would be unfair to people who treat you right, who deserve to be treated better than people who do you wrong. Confucius was therefore an advocate of justice, was Aristotle. Jesus, on the other hand, said turn the other cheek and love your enemies, which is not justice. I also liked the suggestion of Confucius that one should not serve in government when evil people domina When Confucius was asked what he thought about the idea of being kind to someone who does you wrong, he pointed out that this would be unfair to people who treat you right, who deserve to be treated better than people who do you wrong. Confucius was therefore an advocate of justice, was Aristotle. Jesus, on the other hand, said turn the other cheek and love your enemies, which is not justice. I also liked the suggestion of Confucius that one should not serve in government when evil people dominated the government. Confucius thought that good government should resemble a good family. The parents should treat the children fairly, and the children should, in return, be loyal to their government. There is very little that is mystical or other-worldly in Confucianism, which gives it a great advantage over Christianity and Islam.

  8. 5 out of 5

    David Sarkies

    The political sayings of a Chinese master 22 June 2011 While I have credited the writing of this work to Confucius, it was not actually written by him but rather by his disciples. Thus Confucius joins Socrates and Jesus Christ of having an enormous influence upon the world without actually writing anything down (though this is not correct, as I further outline below). Further, like Jesus Christ and Socrates, the books are a record of his sayings (though, unlike Jesus Christ, he did not perform an The political sayings of a Chinese master 22 June 2011 While I have credited the writing of this work to Confucius, it was not actually written by him but rather by his disciples. Thus Confucius joins Socrates and Jesus Christ of having an enormous influence upon the world without actually writing anything down (though this is not correct, as I further outline below). Further, like Jesus Christ and Socrates, the books are a record of his sayings (though, unlike Jesus Christ, he did not perform any miracles, nor did he speak of salvation). An interesting point, the phrase 'Confucius says' appears only once in the book, most of the time his sayings are introduced with the phrase 'the master says'. Like Jesus and Socrates, these writings were collected years after his death, though it does appear that there are some books attributed to him, though there is no hard evidence that he actually wrote anything, though it might be best to suggest that we have no works authored by Confucius, only books attributed to him. Further, since he was in politics for a time, it is more than possible that he did write things, and bureaucratic writing does tend to lead to other literary creations. Confucius married, had children, and died a natural death (it appears) as opposed to being executed like Jesus and Socrates. The Analects is a book of wisdom which has created a lot of controversy over the centuries. While Confucius is held in high regard, he has a lot to say about our relations to the sovereign and does suggest that submission to the sovereign is the best (which brings him in line with Jesus' political teachings). Confucius holds education in high regard, and this is where I will quote my favourite analect 'to study without thinking is futile, to think without studying is dangerous'. While one could sit down and explore these analects, one to the best ways to approach them is to consider each one on their merit. While there is a lot of context to consider, many of these sayings (like the book of Proverbs) are timeless. Confucius is also a big supporter of election by merit. That is a person should hold a managerial position because of his (or her) skill and ability rather than simply through family or friends. Our society, and indeed the British Empire, does consider merit in a lot of managerial roles that exist, though due to our human nature, it is always the case that we will tend to look over somebody much more qualified in favour of somebody that we tend to like. However the days of generals and lords being appointed by family are long gone, and those entities that end up running on familial benefits end up not lasting all that long. This version of the book is full of footnotes, and that can be quite annoying when one is constantly flicking back and forth to read the footnotes. Granted, many of us don't even bother reading them, however with a book like the Analects, it is required because it was written so long ago in a society that was completely foreign to us. As such these footnotes tend to identify the characters in the Analects as well as comment on the difficulty of the translation. Further, this was written in the pre-imperial age when China was little more than a collection of feudal states. Confucius did not have an immediate impact upon China, however after his disciples commemorated him by writing down his sayings, his style of politics ended up becoming the dominant. Some have suggested that Confucius was an Atheist, however the Analects do not seem to suggest that this is the case, he pays due respect to heaven, and there is no indication that he did not believe in a spiritual world. What he is interested in though is how to effectively rule the physical world.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Justin Evans

    You can't review the Analects. But you can review editions of the Analects, and this one, translated and commented upon by Annping Chin, is one of the great editions of any philosophy book I've ever come across. The translation clear without being condescending, and Chin includes the Chinese text at the back of the book. Her comments are fascinating; best of all, she includes references to and quotes from the many traditional commentaries on the book, so you know not only what e.g. one random Am You can't review the Analects. But you can review editions of the Analects, and this one, translated and commented upon by Annping Chin, is one of the great editions of any philosophy book I've ever come across. The translation clear without being condescending, and Chin includes the Chinese text at the back of the book. Her comments are fascinating; best of all, she includes references to and quotes from the many traditional commentaries on the book, so you know not only what e.g. one random American translator thinks about a given passage, but what one random American professor thinks about it... and one to four of the best known Confucians and scholars of Confucius' thought. It's almost a history of Confucian thought and scholarship in itself: E.g., in 6.22 Fan Chi asks about wisdom and humaneness. We get information about who Fan Chi was, and learn that "the Song statesman and general Fan Zhongyan, many centuries later, rephrased what Confucius says... 'To be first in worrying about the world's worries and last to enjoy its pleasures'" is to be truly committed to public service. It's hard to express my enthusiasm for this edition, really. One small thought about the Analects themselves: Chin's translation, more than others I've read, helped me understand the importance Confucius places on education and tradition: tradition (i.e., the rites) holds us back, while education (i.e., literature) lets us broaden ourselves. To have either without the other produces a vicious person; to have them both in perfect balance produces the best person. Were I still a scholar, I'd love to write a paper about Confucius as negative dialectician. Thankfully, I'm not.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Smiley

    From my 5-day study tour in South Korea (August 5-9), I read a bit about Korean history in English, according to Prof. Han Young Woo (2010: 7), Confucius said, "Learning is a joy of life." This is an interestingly philosophical, psychological and educational quote as well as a groundbreaking one. Just imagine, Confucius said this some 2,500 years ago! Of course, we still need to read him to learn more even in this 21st century and beyond. I've just posted this quote in my Facebook so that my stud From my 5-day study tour in South Korea (August 5-9), I read a bit about Korean history in English, according to Prof. Han Young Woo (2010: 7), Confucius said, "Learning is a joy of life." This is an interestingly philosophical, psychological and educational quote as well as a groundbreaking one. Just imagine, Confucius said this some 2,500 years ago! Of course, we still need to read him to learn more even in this 21st century and beyond. I've just posted this quote in my Facebook so that my students can see and read it, think and take action. That means for those good and great students of mine in the past, at present and in the years to come. Here's what Confucius said in Book I, 1. The Master said, To learn and at due times to repeat what one has learnt, is that not after all a pleasure? (p. 75) I think Prof. Han Young Woo might have paraphrased from Chinese into Korean first. However, I understand the original Chinese is highly subtle, therefore, it depends on each translator to interpret as close as the heart of the matter as possible. Note: Han Young Woo. (2010). A Review of Korean History Vol. 1 Ancient/Goryeo Era. Hahm Chaibong (trans.). Pajubookcity: KYONGSAEWON.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Stinky Girl

    Full review later.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jimmy

    One of the great classics of world literature. Worth reading for the parts that still apply. Confucius describes himself as a transmitter, not an originator. The book may not contain any original sayings. Its main philosophical idea is to avoid extremes. That's also an ancient Greek idea. One can do no better than to follow that precept. In some places, the orifices of a corpse were plugged up to prevent the soul escaping and doing harm to the community. In China, mortuary jades were used in the One of the great classics of world literature. Worth reading for the parts that still apply. Confucius describes himself as a transmitter, not an originator. The book may not contain any original sayings. Its main philosophical idea is to avoid extremes. That's also an ancient Greek idea. One can do no better than to follow that precept. In some places, the orifices of a corpse were plugged up to prevent the soul escaping and doing harm to the community. In China, mortuary jades were used in the same way. The currently accepted dates of the life of Confucius are 551 to 479 BCE. Book I 1. ... To learn and at due times to repeat what one has learnt, is that not after all a pleasure?... 3. ... Clever talk and a pretentious manner are seldom found in the Good.... Book II 2. ... Let there be no evil in your thoughts.... 15. ... He who learns but does not think is lost.... 17. ... Yu, shall I teach you what knowledge is? When you know a thing, to recognize that you know it, and when you do not know a thing, to recognize that you do not know it. That is knowledge. 18. ... Hear much, but maintain silence as regards doubtful points and be cautious in speaking of the rest; then you will seldom get into trouble. ... Book VI 2. ... He had a great love of learning. ... Book VII (My personal favorite.) 2. ... I have listened in silence and noted what was said, I have never grown tired of learning nor wearied of teaching others what I have learnt. These at least are merits which I can confidently claim. ... 4. In his leisure hours the Master's manner was very free-and-easy, and his expression alert and cheerful. 5. ... How utterly things have gone to the Bad with me! It is long now indeed since I dreamed that I saw the Duke of Chou. 6. ... lean upon Goodness, seek distraction in the arts. 7. ... none has ever come to me without receiving instruction. 8. ... Only one who bursts with eagerness do I instruct; only one who bubbles with excitement, do I enlighten. If I hold up one corner and a man cannot come back to me with the other three, I do not continue the lesson. 10. ... The man who was ready to 'beard a tiger or rush a river' without caring whether he lived or died--that sort of man I should not take. I should certainly take someone who approached difficulties with due caution and who preferred to succeed by strategy. 15. ... Any thought of accepting wealth and rank by means that I know to be wrong is as remote from me as the clouds that float above. 16. ... Give me a few more years, so that I may have spent a whole life in study, and I believe that after all I should be fairly free from error. 18. The Duke of She asked Tzu-lu about Master K'ung. Tzu-lu did not reply. The Master said, Why did you not say, 'This is the character of the man: so intent upon enlightening the eager that he forgets his hunger, and so happy in doing so, that he forgets the bitterness of his lot and does not realize that old age is at hand. That is what he is.' 19. ... I for my part am not one of those who have innate knowledge. I am simply one who loves the past and who is diligent in investigating it. 20. The Master never talked of prodigies, feats of strength, disorders, or spirits. 21. ... Even when walking in a party of no more than three I can always be certain of learning from those I am with. There will be good qualities that I can select for imitation and bad ones that will teach me what requires correction in myself. 23. ... My friends, I know you think that there is something I am keeping from you. I take no steps about which I do not consult you, my friends. Were it otherwise, I should not be Ch'iu (the familiar name for Confucius). 24. The Master took four subjects for his teaching: culture, conduct of affairs, loyalty to superiors, and the keeping of promises. 26. The Master fished with a line but not with a net; when fowling he did not aim at a roosting bird. 27. ... There may well be those who can do well without knowledge; but I for my part am certainly not one of them. To hear much, pick out what is good and follow it, to see much and take due note of it, is the lower of the two kinds of knowledge. 31. When in the Master's presence anyone sang a song that he liked, he did not join at once, but asked for it to be repeated and then joined in. 33. The Master said, As to being a Divine Sage or even a Good Man, far be it from me to make any such claim. As for unwearying effort to learn and unflagging patience in teaching others, those are merits that I do not hesitate to claim. Kung-hsi Hua said, The trouble is that we disciples cannot learn. Book VIII 17. ... Learn as if you were following someone whom you could not catch up, as though it were someone you were frightened of losing. 18. ... Sublime were Shun and Yu! All that is under Heaven was theirs, yet they remained aloof from it. Book IX 7. The Master said, Do I regard myself as a professor of wisdom? Far from it. But if even a simple peasant comes in all sincerity and asks me a question, I am ready to thrash the matter out, with all its pros and cons, to the very end. 24. ... if you have made a mistake, do not be afraid of admitting the fact and mending your ways. Book XII 2. ... Do not do unto others what you would not like yourself. ... Book XIII 24. ... Best of all would be that the good people in his village loved him and the bad hated him. Book XV 11. ... He who will not worry about what is far off will soon find something worse than worry close at hand. (Hear that climate change deniers?) 20. ... The demands that a gentleman makes are upon himself; those that a small man makes are upon others. 23. Tzu-kung asked saying, Is there any single saying that one can act upon all day and every day? The Master said, Perhaps the saying about consideration: Never do to others what you would not like them to do to you. 30. ... I once spent a whole day without food and a whole night without sleep, in order to meditate. It was no use. It is better to learn. Book XVII 3. ... It is only the very wisest and the very stupidest who cannot change. (I hope I'm on the very wisest side.)

  13. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    Some really great nuggets of wisdom in these super short writings. I very much appreciated learning all about Confucius, and I couldn’t help but think of him as the Chinese Jesus (who never identifies as any sort of God’s son or Prophet but rather actually seemed to live the similar values Jesus preached).

  14. 4 out of 5

    Vaishali

    A jewel, though many maxims require prior knowledge of China's dynastic period. I took about 2 days to familiarize with the history; the excerpts below are the more universal sayings. What's interesting is that many aphorisms are Confucius joking with disciples :) Excerpts: --------- 1.8 If you study you will not be crude. 3.12 Sacrifice to the spirits as though the spirits were present. 3.24 The world has long been without the dao. 4.22 The ancients were wary of speaking - ashamed if their conduct d A jewel, though many maxims require prior knowledge of China's dynastic period. I took about 2 days to familiarize with the history; the excerpts below are the more universal sayings. What's interesting is that many aphorisms are Confucius joking with disciples :) Excerpts: --------- 1.8 If you study you will not be crude. 3.12 Sacrifice to the spirits as though the spirits were present. 3.24 The world has long been without the dao. 4.22 The ancients were wary of speaking - ashamed if their conduct did not match up 4.23 Rarely has anyone missed the mark through self-constraint. 4.24 The junzi wishes to be slow of speech and quick in action. 5.12 Zigong said, “What I do not wish others to do to me, I do not wish to do to others.” The Master said, “This is a level you have not yet reached.” 5.21 His wisdom may be matched; his stupidity is unmatchable. 5.24 If someone asked to borrow vinegar from him, he would borrow it from a neighbor and give it. 7.16 Wealth and high rank obtained by unrighteous means are to me like the floating clouds. 7.20 I was not born with knowledge. I love what is old and am assiduous in pursuing it. 7.25 The Master taught by means of four things: patterns, conduct, loyalty, fidelity. 7.29 When a person purifies himself for advancement, you approve his purity; you are not endorsing his past. 8.4 When a bird is about to die, his call is mournful; when a man is about to die, his words are good. 9.17 The Master stood on the riverbank. “How it flows on, never ceasing, night and day!” 9.18 I have yet to see a man who loved virtue as much as sex. 9.28 Only when the year turns cold can one see that pine and cypress are the last to wither. 10.19 When a friend died, if there was no family to make arrangements, he said, “Let the coffin be prepared at my home.” 11.12 Ji Lu asked “May I ask about death?” Master replied “When you do not yet understand life, how could you understand death?” 13.1 Be tireless. 13.26 The junzi is at ease without arrogance; the small man is arrogant without being at ease. 14.20 Words uttered without modesty are difficult to live up to. 14.27 The junzi is ashamed when his words outstrip his actions. 14.37 Worthy are those who shun the world. Next are those who shun a specific place. The next best shun the lewd, and the next best after shun speech.” 15.2 The junzi is steadfast through poverty. When the small man falls into poverty, he will do anything. 15.3 Do you take me for one who studies a great deal and remembers it? … It is not so. I link all on a single thread. 15.8 To not speak with someone worthwhile is to waste that person. To speak with someone worthless is to waste words. The wise man wastes neither people nor words. 15.10 The craftsman who wishes to work well must first sharpen his tools. 15.12 A man who does not think far ahead will have troubles near at hand. 15.30 To err and not change – that, we may say, is to err. 15.40 Do not make plans with others whose dao differs from yours. 15.41 Words should do no more than convey the idea. 16.1 The junzi detests those who cover up their desires by making excuses. 17.24 I hate those who think insulting others is straightforwardness. 18.8 I differ from them all. I have no rule of what is permissible and what is not. 20.3 If you do not know your destiny, you cannot be a junzi.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Pontus Alexander

    Text, translation & edition: ✦✦✦✦✦ Both A.C. Grayling (with the preface) and D.C. Lau (with the introduction and translation) do a good job of explaining, or at least hinting at the importance, of the key terms of Lǐ (禮 / 礼 - proper rites), Rén (仁 - benevolence), Dào (道 - the Way) and Dé (德 - right virtue). Those words are used throughout the Analects, and knowing a fraction of their significants is very helpful to understand the whole. Now, I had my prejudgments about Confucius beforehand, but my Text, translation & edition: ✦✦✦✦✦ Both A.C. Grayling (with the preface) and D.C. Lau (with the introduction and translation) do a good job of explaining, or at least hinting at the importance, of the key terms of Lǐ (禮 / 礼 - proper rites), Rén (仁 - benevolence), Dào (道 - the Way) and Dé (德 - right virtue). Those words are used throughout the Analects, and knowing a fraction of their significants is very helpful to understand the whole. Now, I had my prejudgments about Confucius beforehand, but my views upon reading, and after finishing reading, was greatly changed to the better. I of course couldn’t help comparing the Analects with the Tao Te Ching, and I have collected a few quotes that signifies this (on education, action vs. inaction, leadership, etc.) Knowing the tiny fractions we have about the life of Confucius helped with the understanding of this book as well. For the Folio Society ed.: Good introduction by D.C. Lau together with the informative appendices. The notes felt more scholarly. The translation, just like his Tao Te Ching translation, was clear and readable. 

 Quotations of interest to me: IV 17 '. . . 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 ' [on the gentleman] 24 '. . . The gentleman desires to be halting in speech but quick in action ' [on speech/action] VII 1 '. . . I transmit but do not innovate. I am truthful in what I say and devoted to antiquity . . .' 6 '. . . I set my heart on the Way, base myself on virtue, lean upon benevolence for support and take my recreation in the arts.' 14 ' The Master heard the shao [music of shao] 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.’ XI 12 '. . . ‘May I ask about death?’ ‘You do not understand even life. How can you understand death?’ ' XII 11 '. . . ‘Let the ruler be a ruler, the subject a subject, the father a father, the son a son . . .’ ' 19 '. . . 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.' [11,19: on leadership / hierarchy] XIV 34 '. . . You repay an injury with straightness, but you repay a good turn with a good turn.' 35 '. . . In my studies, I start from below and get through to what is up above. If I am understood at all, it is, perhaps, by Heaven.' XV 7 '. . . ‘When the Way prevails in the state he is straight as an arrow, yet when the Way falls into disuse in the state he is still straight as an arrow . . .’ ' XVII 10 '. . . Have you studied the Chou nan and Shao nan? [opening sections of the 'Book of Odes'] To be a man and not to study them is, I would say, like standing with one's face directly towards the wall. ' 11 ' The Master said, ‘I am thinking of giving up speech.’ Tzu-kung said, ‘If you did not speak, what would there be for us, your disciples, to transmit?’ The Master said, ‘What does Heaven ever say? Yet there are the four seasons going round and there are the hundred things coming into being. What does Heaven ever say?’

  16. 5 out of 5

    Linton

    The Analects by Confucius is a key text for understanding classical chinese philosophy. For Confucius, there is a large focus on social roles and responsibilities. He desires to empower the gentlemen [junzi] by developing their humanity [ren] so that moral virtue is the most valued part of society. He does this out of a desire to end the decay of society, and return to the way of the Shang dynasty. There is clearly a golden-age myth linked to his thinking, which is a significant reason for his s The Analects by Confucius is a key text for understanding classical chinese philosophy. For Confucius, there is a large focus on social roles and responsibilities. He desires to empower the gentlemen [junzi] by developing their humanity [ren] so that moral virtue is the most valued part of society. He does this out of a desire to end the decay of society, and return to the way of the Shang dynasty. There is clearly a golden-age myth linked to his thinking, which is a significant reason for his strong stance on tradition according to the rites [li]. The Analects is presented as short sayings of Confucius and his followers, usually in conversation with another person. These highlight the particularity of Confucius' advice. He advises a gentlemen far differently than he would a petty man [xiaoren], based upon the type of instruction they need. From this it is clear that it is difficult to find a universal moral rule in Confucian philosophy. Despite this there are many interesting ideas within Confucian philosophy which can be developed, and definite concepts which can be applied in many scenarios. The development of humanity, fiality towards one's parents, the moral strength of a ruler and acting in accordance with the rites are clear examples of this. I would highly recommend this book for anyone interested in philosophy, particularly those interested in Chinese philosophy.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Scriptor Ignotus

    A good starting point for thinking about Confucius is that he was concerned with training rulers and subjects. This puts him in the company of the Sophists of Plato’s dialogues. Protagoras and Socrates begin their debate over the question of whether good citizenship can be taught, and consequently whether Sophists like Protagoras can be useful to that end. For Confucius, there is no distinction between the ethical and the political, because the political virtue of social stability relies upon th A good starting point for thinking about Confucius is that he was concerned with training rulers and subjects. This puts him in the company of the Sophists of Plato’s dialogues. Protagoras and Socrates begin their debate over the question of whether good citizenship can be taught, and consequently whether Sophists like Protagoras can be useful to that end. For Confucius, there is no distinction between the ethical and the political, because the political virtue of social stability relies upon the ethical foundations of self-mastery, self-knowledge, benevolence, wisdom, filial piety, adherence to tradition, and a disposition towards lifelong learning. The state is constituted by clans, households, and individuals, all coming together to form an organic whole. Ethical turpitude among the people undermines the foundations of political order, like termites infesting a house. His fondness in recounting the deeds of wise rulers reminded me a little of Machiavelli as well; but whereas Machiavelli, as the first Western modernist, subordinated ethical considerations to the utilitarian concerns of political expediency, Confucius rightly regards morality as the aim of social and political life. While the two shared a desire for what we would now call civic virtue, or the notion that successful government relies upon a virtuous citizenry, they entertained remarkably different ideas on the nature of virtue. For Machiavelli, the virtuous have an agile and flexible mind, machismo, daring, and a perceptiveness that allows them to see the potential in chaos. Confucius’s virtue is almost the inverse of that; to be moral, for him, is to be in such a condition that the Machiavellian virtues are regarded only as the virtues of brigands. I find the comparison between them fascinating, because in the great ethical teacher of China and the forefather of modern Western republicanism, you find the seeds of two great cultures, which in our time can either be adversaries or can learn from one another for their mutual benefit.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Ahmed R. Rashwan

    So I have finally delved into the philosophy of Confucianism, but unfortunately it left me a little winded and even slightly exhausted. Although this book was merely 80 pages long, I cannot say this was an easy read at all, it reminded me of when I was reading up on Buddhism. Although I am generally very fascinated with Far Eastern religions, philosophies and social systems, it seems that I do not go along with them very well. This does sadden me to a degree and I am afraid I might feel the same So I have finally delved into the philosophy of Confucianism, but unfortunately it left me a little winded and even slightly exhausted. Although this book was merely 80 pages long, I cannot say this was an easy read at all, it reminded me of when I was reading up on Buddhism. Although I am generally very fascinated with Far Eastern religions, philosophies and social systems, it seems that I do not go along with them very well. This does sadden me to a degree and I am afraid I might feel the same way when I finally study Shinto (Japan's traditional religion/philosophy). But I will keep my head up and continue reading up on Far Eastern religions; I am far from done. Putting aside the fact that I had to continuously go back and forth between the main text and the explanatory notes, which is always a disorienting thing for me and almost never fails to put me off and makes it very difficult for me to continue reading for the lengths of period that I usually read for, there is also the fact that the authenticity of everything in the main text is actually questionable, which gives you this feeling of unease throughout the entire reading because you're always unsure and aware that you might not be getting an accurate representation of both Confucius and his teaching/philosophy. On the other hand. the text does offer up a sensible amount of generally good guidelines , which is what helped me enjoy it a little. What was most surprising about some of these guidelines though is their peculiarly close similarity to some Abrahamic religious texts and guidelines, specifically that of Islam; this of course comes in favour of those who claim that all religions, belief systems and philosophies do indeed borrow from, grow on, or add to already existing ones, Confucianism itself practising the same.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Morgan

    I've been wanting to read this book for years. For some reason Confucius has sparked my interest. Earlier this year I got into philosophy again and remembered I'd wanted to read this book. Now having actually read this, I can say I find Confucius relaxing and enjoyable. Him and Machiavelli have become my favorite philosophers (odd combo I know). The translation I read by Annping Chin was wonderful and highly recommend this edition. Not only do you get the text, but you get more than enough commen I've been wanting to read this book for years. For some reason Confucius has sparked my interest. Earlier this year I got into philosophy again and remembered I'd wanted to read this book. Now having actually read this, I can say I find Confucius relaxing and enjoyable. Him and Machiavelli have become my favorite philosophers (odd combo I know). The translation I read by Annping Chin was wonderful and highly recommend this edition. Not only do you get the text, but you get more than enough commentaries, notes, and alternative translations. I like the fact she spent so much time trying to get the modern reader to understand the text with what other previous scholars and translators have said. She points out several times how translation is very important with Confucius. If this book didn't have all the notes and commentary I don't think I would enjoy it as much. Not only would I not understand it, but probably assume he wrote all the fortune cookies (bad joke, but without context some of his stuff does sound like fortune cookies). This book probably would only take a day or two for me to read without the notes as well. Just goes to show you some books need those long translation notes and some books (even ones I love) I thought needed better translators or a translator who actually cared about what they are translating. I do think this a book people should read at some point in their life. It talks a lot about manners, how to be a gentleman, and how to be learned. Sometime in the future I think I'll reread this. Not sure how one could get everything in one sitting. Confucius didn't write many words, but he had a wise mind.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Gastjäle

    For every passable and interesting Confucian quote there are at least a dozen trite rhetorical questions, instances of contradictory gobbledygook and namedroppings from the Analectical arse. While we all applaud people who don't even pretend to be sage and consistent, it's very difficult to take any of this very seriously if the authority undermines himself with such force. And the core of his philosophy in this particular work seems to be bafflingly bland: respect those above you, read history, For every passable and interesting Confucian quote there are at least a dozen trite rhetorical questions, instances of contradictory gobbledygook and namedroppings from the Analectical arse. While we all applaud people who don't even pretend to be sage and consistent, it's very difficult to take any of this very seriously if the authority undermines himself with such force. And the core of his philosophy in this particular work seems to be bafflingly bland: respect those above you, read history, honour traditions and act in accordance with good habits. Unless you're a peasant, in which case you're supposed to bow under the yoke and not even aspire to become wise. One couldn't outright negate the importance of the aforementioned tenets, yet Confucius doesn't really justify them either. Rather, when people ask him why he holds them dear, he merely answer back with a question or simply states roundabout things like "X was a noble man." I'm actually of the opinion that the conversations included herein were never reported correctly, for surely they should've invariably ended in something like: "Shut your gob you flatulent windbag.", "Stop scrounging off my wares, you bum!" or "Sod your foul fashion tips!" On the positive side, this was a quick and effortless read. And even entertaining, though not in the way Confucius himself intended it, most likely.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Alex

    Confucius yo. Again, more research on the translation is needed.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Xavier

    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?" The Analects are full of interesting and thought-provoking bits like this one. I highlighted any statements I found to be interesting or those that would be beneficial to read again later in life. There are many. I enjoyed reading an ancient text, writte 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?" The Analects are full of interesting and thought-provoking bits like this one. I highlighted any statements I found to be interesting or those that would be beneficial to read again later in life. There are many. I enjoyed reading an ancient text, written in a time when the world was very different (around 2000 years ago in China during the Warring States period, 475-221 BC). To read something like this is to get a glimpse of a culture that is completely alien to me. And that can only be beneficial. I didn't rate this because I came to a realization -- how can one rate a book written so long ago? A work considered extremely important in China, for followers of Confucianism? An influential piece of literature?

  23. 5 out of 5

    Robert Jacoby

    Title: Excellent introduction to how language impacts individual thought, a culture, and a civilization (Background: Over a couple of decades' time I planned to read the scriptures of the world's great religions/philosophies. I started with my own, reading the Bible in two different translations, first the Hebrew-Greek Word Study Bible by Spiros Zodhiates, and then the NIV. Next I turned to Islam and Al-Quaran. After that The Bhagavad Gita and the Analects of Confucius. Every reading is helping m Title: Excellent introduction to how language impacts individual thought, a culture, and a civilization (Background: Over a couple of decades' time I planned to read the scriptures of the world's great religions/philosophies. I started with my own, reading the Bible in two different translations, first the Hebrew-Greek Word Study Bible by Spiros Zodhiates, and then the NIV. Next I turned to Islam and Al-Quaran. After that The Bhagavad Gita and the Analects of Confucius. Every reading is helping me go a bit deeper and wider into man's search for God and, through that, meaning in this life. More books and reviews to come.) I read this book on a beach vacation a few years ago. I enjoyed it very much. I'd not read much previously about Confucius or Confucianism, the ethical and philosophical system derived from the man's teachings; this volume filled that void. The book consists of a lengthy Introduction--70 pages. The Analects are then presented in 20 "books"; the Chinese text is presented alongside the English translation. Appendices take up the remainder. What I enjoyed most about this book was the Introduction. The authors go to great lengths to explain the times that Confucius (551-479 BC) lived in--the government, the politics, the family structure--and the language of classical Chinese. This is most important to understanding a people, their culture, and what (and why) they believe what they believe, and how they build their civilization. We in the West know that the Orient is different; the authors gave me a better understanding of why. For example, in classical Chinese there are no words as there are in English for--among others--"freedom," "liberty," "choice," "individual," "reason," "autonomy." The authors write: "None of these English words has a close analogue in classical Chinese...." (p. 54). Let that sink in. I mean: *really* sink in. "Freedom." "Liberty." "Choice." "Individual." "Reason." "Autonomy." If you don't have a word to describe something, then that something simply and "correctly" does not exist for you. Frightening and eye-opening all at once..... So for me the Introduction and the insight it provided into Chinese language and, thus, fundamentally, Chinese thinking was worth the price of the book. The Analects themselves are stories of Confucius' wanderings in the countryside and his sayings on what he thinks is best for proper government, from the emperor down to local rulers down to relations among family. That's about it. But it provides great insight into Chinese thinking. The text at times is rather dry and straightforward. Don't expect "Confucius say...." nonsense. It doesn't exist. Read this book for the great introduction it is to one of the world's great and largest philosophical (some would say religious) systems. And also for the keen insight it provides into the Chinese people and why things are the way they are. What's past is prologue.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Martin

    Now I’ve read this book twice, and I really enjoy it. This is a book written down about 2’500 years ago, filled with quotes by a man who considered himself a conservative at that time. The Master said, ”I transmit but do not innovate. I love antiquity and have faith in it. [...]” This naturally makes it at times very conservative by the standards of today, but since the main subject is something as timeless as humaneness it still mostly works. It would, however, have been inaccessible if it wasn Now I’ve read this book twice, and I really enjoy it. This is a book written down about 2’500 years ago, filled with quotes by a man who considered himself a conservative at that time. The Master said, ”I transmit but do not innovate. I love antiquity and have faith in it. [...]” This naturally makes it at times very conservative by the standards of today, but since the main subject is something as timeless as humaneness it still mostly works. It would, however, have been inaccessible if it wasn’t for the great translation and commentary by Annping Chin. She has for every entry weighed together many translations and centuries of commentary by Chinese scholars to, always with the goal of finding the ”authentic” Confucius, the way his contemporaries and disciples understood him. She also explains context and the appearance of every mentioned character, of which there are many. Here is an example: The Master said, ”Linen for ceremonial caps is what the rites prescribed. Nowadays, black silk is used, which is frugal. I follow the current practice. To bow at the foot of the dais, before ascending the stairs, is what the rites prescribed. Nowadays people bow at the top of the stairs, after they have reached the dais, which is presumptuos. Though it is against current practice, I still bow at the foot of the dais.” With the explanation: To weave fibers of hemp into linen was more labor intensive than weaving silk, and so Confucius was ready to go along with the contemporary practice of wearing a ceremonial cap made of silk even though it was not what the rites called for. But he refused to follow the practice of bowing after one had climbed the stairs because this would mean that he would stand on the same level as his lord, which was disrespectful, and so he always observed the prescribed rule. Confucius knew that many factors could have contributed to a modification in ritual practice, and he was willing to consider the change if there was a good reason to do so and if it did not encourage laxity or transgressive behavior in human relationships. Context is key. The commentary turns what otherwise would have been a complete mystery into a real insight. Confucius says here that while he respects the past one shouldn’t go too far and become inflexible; accept change when there’s a good reason for it, but retain the old ways if the new ways bring more harm than good. The specific example isn’t relevant for our times, but the underlying principle is.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Stuart Aken

    Disappointing. That's a bald statement and perhaps not the most expected, considering the reputation of this Chinese man of…wisdom? I didn't find that, to be honest. From several hundred short passages of supposed erudition I listed ten I thought worthy of spreading to the wider world. All the Confucianists will, of course be screaming abuse and possibly foaming at the mouth, because Confucius, rather like other famed wise men, has taken a role close to that of a god for many. I found him conserv Disappointing. That's a bald statement and perhaps not the most expected, considering the reputation of this Chinese man of…wisdom? I didn't find that, to be honest. From several hundred short passages of supposed erudition I listed ten I thought worthy of spreading to the wider world. All the Confucianists will, of course be screaming abuse and possibly foaming at the mouth, because Confucius, rather like other famed wise men, has taken a role close to that of a god for many. I found him conservative, unimaginative, intolerant and a man who seemed to express a singular self-preservationist philosophy, no doubt intended to keep him alive in what was a very violent society. I gleaned this, by the way, from this book, not from a reading of history. It's clear that his insistence on the 'Way' is a plea to men (he has no time for women, who were clearly no more than playthings and servants in his time) to be of good character. By which he appears to mean, obey those set above you socially and politically. That a man so revered could be such a supporter of the tyranny of his time and yet accrue disciples merely serves to underline my own impression that there are those in society who'll accept leadership and direction regardless of its merit or otherwise. Faith, in general, is an illustration of this. It's likely that, in common with Buddha, Jesus and Mohammed, his actual words have been usurped and deliberately distorted to suit the ends of those who wished to make capital from his aura of celebrity. I found little to admire in the words I was offered here. Much, rather like the Qur'an, is banal, repetitive and uninspiring. There is a deal of meaningless, to the modern western mind, ceremonial and social reportage that would require a deep knowledge of Chinese history to appreciate. I felt disinclined to spend the time and effort necessary to extract any worthwhile meaning from these passages, since the rest of the supposed words of wisdom were, in fact, anything but. So, it was, for me, a disappointing read. I can't recommend it. There are, however, a round ten short sayings that carry some resonance in the modern world and I'll happily spread those, in the hope that the reputation of the originator will, at least, lend some authority to these aphorisms for those who might otherwise discount them out of hand.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Ericka Clouther

    This is a great translation. I only compared it to one other but it far exceeded the other translation. The language in the Analects is clear and then followed by short paragraphs to explain the missing context or the connotation of particular Chinese words. I enjoyed the number of passages focused on education and respect, though the ones about the historical politicians held less interest for me. (I don't rate religious or semi-religious texts.)

  27. 4 out of 5

    Alex

    This book is spun gold. Faithful readers (Are there faithful readers?) may recall that I’ve kvetched about the limits of my education on several occasions. My high school offered a Western Philosophy class, but the teacher looked puzzled when I asked, “Which period is Eastern Philosophy? I didn’t find it in the Spring schedule.” Cal State Fullerton’s Philosophy 101 class was 100% Western, and the only Eastern course was an outstanding “Origins and Development of Buddhism,” which really wasn’t phi This book is spun gold. Faithful readers (Are there faithful readers?) may recall that I’ve kvetched about the limits of my education on several occasions. My high school offered a Western Philosophy class, but the teacher looked puzzled when I asked, “Which period is Eastern Philosophy? I didn’t find it in the Spring schedule.” Cal State Fullerton’s Philosophy 101 class was 100% Western, and the only Eastern course was an outstanding “Origins and Development of Buddhism,” which really wasn’t philosophy at all. The Naval Academy had no philosophy classes, but the one professor with a philosophy Ph.D. (who worked in the history department) was kind enough to allow me to build an independent study class around 19th-Century Germans. The St. John’s College Graduate Institute was 100% Western, and the Naval War College didn’t go anywhere near philosophy as a structured area of investigation. All that has left me on my own, in a culture in which most Eastern philosophy gets pablumated into hippie bullshit. But here’s the thing: there is no “Western” and “Eastern” philosophy. There is only philosophy. Philosophy, the world over, is the conversation around the question of “How are we to act?” As an American, the product of a nation defined by (sometimes forced) departure from our countries of origin, I feel that we Americans are uniquely positioned to put aside the categories of Western and Eastern philosophy and, instead, survey the world. So get out there, intrepid reader, and read it all! If you’re going to read it all, there’s nowhere better to begin than with ‘The Analects of Confucius.’ This is a short book, maybe only a hundred pages or so, but it is absolutely brimming with practical, useful insights on how to live the best life. Its audience may have been Chinese noblemen of roughly 500 BC, but it has remained so readable and relevant that China has basically built an entire culture around it. This isn’t to imply that it’s something like the Divine Word of God: there’s a lot of, “If only Confucius were in charge, things would be great. However, Ruler X wouldn’t give Confucius a job.” The book attacks this head-on, with interlocutors asking, “If you’re so smart, why aren’t you in charge?” The answer, which boils down to, “Eh, whatcha gonna do” is delightfully disarming and humanizes the sage. This makes the reader actually feel like entering into dialogue with the author, rather than merely sitting at his feet. It’s easy to talk about how great you’d be at running the show; it’s hard to run the show. Of note, and we see this with Lao Tzu and Sun Tzu, the ‘Analects’ are not meant to be read in a sitting or two. If you’re comfortable with the coexistence of the base and the sublime, ‘Analects’ (which roughly translates to ‘Sayings’) makes for great bathroom reading - just a few minutes here and there, something to dwell on, and then move on. If you try to blast through it, I’m afraid you’ll miss the point. All of which brings me to the autobiographical paragraphs which opened this review. I suspect that, much as I loved reading ‘The Analects,’ I’d love studying them even more. Though I no longer see value in the Eastern/Western philosophical divide, St. John’s College’s Santa Fe campus does offer an Eastern Classics graduate program. The more I think about it, the more I’m ready to matriculate in 2032. See you there!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Crito

    The "philosophical translation" moniker supposes some authoritativeness, though the execution results in two things. First, it means that the translations are vastly expanded in order to get the fullest possible sense of the terms used. As a result there are many awkward translation choices: ren which is typically rendered "humanity" is rendered as "authoritative conduct" which is tremendously cumbersome even after getting used to it. This style isn't without its merits; junzi typically rendered The "philosophical translation" moniker supposes some authoritativeness, though the execution results in two things. First, it means that the translations are vastly expanded in order to get the fullest possible sense of the terms used. As a result there are many awkward translation choices: ren which is typically rendered "humanity" is rendered as "authoritative conduct" which is tremendously cumbersome even after getting used to it. This style isn't without its merits; junzi typically rendered "gentleman" is now the "exemplary person," which is more revealing and in line with the vocabulary of the Confucian tradition. Ultimately I warmed up to this, though if I want a more casual and readable translation I'll go elsewhere. In addition, since this aims to exhaust the meaning of passages, it inevitably falls under a certain interpretation of key Confucian notions which emphasizes the individual in a constant process of self construction and affirming. I don't have many bones to pick with their angle, and co-translator Ames also co-authored Thinking Through Confucius which is a secondary I respect and look to (ren was also used as authoritativeness there.) But it is important to keep in mind that it does have an interpretive angle. But if this edition is to be of scholarly use, let alone authoritative, one thing that boggles my mind is its lack of an index. I do prefer much of what's in here, but if I am trying to find a particular section in here without remembering the general neighborhood it means I have to have to dig out my other copy just for its index and return to this version when I have the section number. In an academic volume that is entirely unacceptable, especially in a text like this where a concept is fleshed out over many disparate sections. So despite this edition probably having more merits, it's useful for mainly one type of reading, but it is not the most efficient edition for that type of use. But on the other hand, it's Confucius, so it's great otherwise.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Paula

    I have no plans to convert to Confucianism, but discovered unexpected wisdom in the ancient writings of Confucius. My Kindle is marked up pretty well. I guess that means I can use it as a reference book.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Sean Leas

    The particular version that I read did not have an analysis along with the text. While enjoyable it wasn't quite the same when I read it long ago. I'm making it a point to re-read again soon.

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