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Confucian Analects, The Great Learning The Doctrine of the Mean

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Central to the study of Chinese civilization at its widest extension is the thought of the great sage K'ung, usually known in the West by the Latinized form of his name, Confucius. His works form the core of more than two thousand years of Oriental civilization, and even today, when he has been officially discarded, his thought remains important for understanding the prese Central to the study of Chinese civilization at its widest extension is the thought of the great sage K'ung, usually known in the West by the Latinized form of his name, Confucius. His works form the core of more than two thousand years of Oriental civilization, and even today, when he has been officially discarded, his thought remains important for understanding the present as well as the past. Yet Confucius is the property of not only the Orientalists: his ideas stood behind much of the rational social thought of the European Enlightenment, as great philosophers from Leibnitz on seized with delight "the perfect ethic without supernaturalism: that China offered them. The present edition of the wisdom of Confucius is certainly the best edition ever prepared in the West. The results of many years of study in China by the great Sinologist James Legge, it contains the entire Chinese text of the Analects (or sayings) of Confucius in large, readable characters, and beneath this Legge's full translation, which has been accepted as the definitive, standard English version. The book also includes The Great Learning and The Doctrine of the Mean. In addition to the texts and translation, a wealth of helpful material is offered to the reader: countless notes embodying textual studies, commentators' opinions, interpretation of individual characters, disputed meanings, and similar material. More than 125 pages of introduction cover the Chinese classics, the history of the texts in this volume, and the life and influence of Confucius. Most useful, too, is a complete dictionary of all the Chinese characters in the book, with meanings, grammatical comments, place locations, and similar data. Subject and name indexes enable you to find material easily.


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Central to the study of Chinese civilization at its widest extension is the thought of the great sage K'ung, usually known in the West by the Latinized form of his name, Confucius. His works form the core of more than two thousand years of Oriental civilization, and even today, when he has been officially discarded, his thought remains important for understanding the prese Central to the study of Chinese civilization at its widest extension is the thought of the great sage K'ung, usually known in the West by the Latinized form of his name, Confucius. His works form the core of more than two thousand years of Oriental civilization, and even today, when he has been officially discarded, his thought remains important for understanding the present as well as the past. Yet Confucius is the property of not only the Orientalists: his ideas stood behind much of the rational social thought of the European Enlightenment, as great philosophers from Leibnitz on seized with delight "the perfect ethic without supernaturalism: that China offered them. The present edition of the wisdom of Confucius is certainly the best edition ever prepared in the West. The results of many years of study in China by the great Sinologist James Legge, it contains the entire Chinese text of the Analects (or sayings) of Confucius in large, readable characters, and beneath this Legge's full translation, which has been accepted as the definitive, standard English version. The book also includes The Great Learning and The Doctrine of the Mean. In addition to the texts and translation, a wealth of helpful material is offered to the reader: countless notes embodying textual studies, commentators' opinions, interpretation of individual characters, disputed meanings, and similar material. More than 125 pages of introduction cover the Chinese classics, the history of the texts in this volume, and the life and influence of Confucius. Most useful, too, is a complete dictionary of all the Chinese characters in the book, with meanings, grammatical comments, place locations, and similar data. Subject and name indexes enable you to find material easily.

30 review for Confucian Analects, The Great Learning The Doctrine of the Mean

  1. 5 out of 5

    Bernard

    Rereading these works. This version has material I haven't seen. Great stuff to live by - The Way of the Mean. Rereading these works. This version has material I haven't seen. Great stuff to live by - The Way of the Mean.

  2. 4 out of 5

    James Henderson

    Over the past few weeks I considered, meditated upon and read the classic translation of Confucius by James Legge entitled, Confucian Analects, The Great Learning and The Doctrine of the Mean. All works distilled over centuries from the teachings of Confucius who lived from 551 to 479 B.C. Elias Canetti summed it up neatly: "The Analects of Confucius are the oldest complete intellectual and spiritual portrait of a man. It strikes one as a modern book." It also strikes this reader as a very un-wes Over the past few weeks I considered, meditated upon and read the classic translation of Confucius by James Legge entitled, Confucian Analects, The Great Learning and The Doctrine of the Mean. All works distilled over centuries from the teachings of Confucius who lived from 551 to 479 B.C. Elias Canetti summed it up neatly: "The Analects of Confucius are the oldest complete intellectual and spiritual portrait of a man. It strikes one as a modern book." It also strikes this reader as a very un-western book and difficult to decipher. In spite of that there is a lot that Confucius' thought has in common with the wisdom of the west. One of the most famous doctrines is that of "reciprocity". 15.24 Zigong asked: "Is there any single word that could guide one's entire life?" The Master said: "Should it not be reciprocity? What you do not wish for yourself, do not do to others." (Simon Leys trans., p 77) That is complementary to the more familiar "Golden Rule" that says one should "do unto others as one would have them do unto you." From reading the aphorisms one comes away with an appreciation for culture, family and what seems to be a conservative view of man. It also is a very humane, even humanistic, view of society. Apparently this was just what was needed during the lifetime of Confucius as there was great change in his society. He lived during a period of acute cultural crisis. Confucius, like thinkers in the West from Socrates to Gandhi, demonstrated a confidence that in turn drew followers to him and his thought. We can thank them for what little of Confucius' thought that we have. In these books and fragments we have the distillation of his thought and it impresses me as worth meditating on. It is a treasure of humanity.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Tyrel Sorensen

    I found The Analects and the Doctrine of the Mean to be tedious, murky, and outright boring. I assume that each of these is better in the original Chinese and that other, better translations exist. The Great Learning, on the other hand, was excellent. To it, I would assign four stars. Unfortunately, the two other works contained herein pulled the whole book down considerably for me.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Eric Smith

    I first read these works in either the fall of 1998 or the spring of 1999, and few works of philosophy or theory have ever so profoundly affected me. The idealism of Confucian thought and the way of thought and living it imbues, it's emphasis on liberal education​ and service, self-cultivation and rectification, values that are genteel without knightly pretensions.... all of these amaze me with each reconsideration. But it is the simple understanding of Confucius as to what the ordering principa I first read these works in either the fall of 1998 or the spring of 1999, and few works of philosophy or theory have ever so profoundly affected me. The idealism of Confucian thought and the way of thought and living it imbues, it's emphasis on liberal education​ and service, self-cultivation and rectification, values that are genteel without knightly pretensions.... all of these amaze me with each reconsideration. But it is the simple understanding of Confucius as to what the ordering principal of government should of right be that truly compels my admiration. Nature, Heaven, Earth all in their vastness cannot be understood but their will can, and that will is that human beings fulfill their nature, their natural potential, and that good government does that through doing what is right for the people while limiting the burdens on the people... anything else is wrong because it is exploitation and nature demands harmony, balance, equilibrium and exploitation, profiting from others in a way that is intentionally taking more from them than one gives, is manifestly imbalancing and unjust. A lot to chew on, and I haven't scratched​ the surface. There are perhaps twenty must-read works of political philosophy in the world: the Analects, Great Learning, and Doctrine of the Mean easily make that list.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Mart

    I’m giving 2 stars to the edition and 4 to Confucius, so that rounds up in 3 stars. Confucius has a coherent system of ideas that is mainly focused on the requisites, advantages and characteristics of a virtuous life. I think it is worthy of praise to be so self-aware and conscious of the importance and impacts of righteousness. As much as the main ideas of the text are clearly explained, I found the book hard to read in some parts. This could be due to the lack of explanatory notes or to the ex I’m giving 2 stars to the edition and 4 to Confucius, so that rounds up in 3 stars. Confucius has a coherent system of ideas that is mainly focused on the requisites, advantages and characteristics of a virtuous life. I think it is worthy of praise to be so self-aware and conscious of the importance and impacts of righteousness. As much as the main ideas of the text are clearly explained, I found the book hard to read in some parts. This could be due to the lack of explanatory notes or to the excess of names, titles, people, events and other particularities that are constantly referred to with no background whatsoever. I do think that this style makes up for a hard and disorienting read. In any case, I am willing to grant it the 2,500 years of age and the cultural distance, but that’s where notes or a sound introduction should make their appearance. Without them it’s hard to get a well rounded approach to these works. Only the main ideas are easily accessible and although they are indeed noteworthy and remarkable, I am disappointed not to have been able to access the whole content. I will be looking for a better edition as I was impressed by Confucius’ great ideas and personality and certainly want to explore him further.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jeff

    Book #2 in 2012's survey of holy shit (#1 was Tao Te Ching). Simply put, virtually everything about this book was not what i wanted. The Dover edition of James Legge's translation provides same-page Chinese, English, and footnotes, which briefly allowed me to think i could learn some Chinese. Comprehension of some recurring nouns and verbs can be acquired through simple code/pattern recognition but live instruction would be better. After that brief excitement faded, only Confucian tedium remained. Book #2 in 2012's survey of holy shit (#1 was Tao Te Ching). Simply put, virtually everything about this book was not what i wanted. The Dover edition of James Legge's translation provides same-page Chinese, English, and footnotes, which briefly allowed me to think i could learn some Chinese. Comprehension of some recurring nouns and verbs can be acquired through simple code/pattern recognition but live instruction would be better. After that brief excitement faded, only Confucian tedium remained. I slogged through ~70 uninspiring, mind-numbing pages of the Analects before desperately skipping to the Great Learning (TGL) and the Doctrine of the Mean (Mean Doc). I knew they were shorter so i wished and hoped (i almost prayed!) that they would also be livelier, juicier, or at least relevant to my belief that i was supposedly reading texts with religious value. My faulty anticipation of encountering spiritual insights lead directly to my dissatisfaction. How can millions allegedly belong to a Confucian religion? They ought to be proud of themselves for finding meaning in writings with so much vagueness. I conclude that Confucianism as a discipline or way of life depends more on what is conveyed within the guru-devotee relationship than on what can be gleaned as a private reader of a primary text or two. *sigh* Since that's probably true of every religion, how about we say it's more true of Confucianism than any others i can think of at the moment? Though Legge's copious prolegomena epitomize everything of value within this book—the history of Chinese political thought—these prefatory essays yielded no additional insights relevant to my search for meaningfulness in Confucianism as a religion. It's not you, Confucius; it's me (this reader contains the fault, not the author or his book). This Kung Fu-tzu guy was a very practical fellow. He believed in the here and now, not some mystical afterlife or metaphysical interaction with supernatural power(s). And i'm not the right guy for his book. Example of what's in Analects: The Master said, "The governments of Lû and Wei are brothers." (bk XIII, ¶vii [p.266]) That's all. Nothing more. Discernible wisdom might be packed deep into that statement, but how many folks have knowledge capable of unpacking it? Even Legge's frustration comes through more than once, most notably to me in a footnote on p.418: "The whole chapter is eminently absurd, and gives a character of ridiculousness to all the magniloquent teaching about 'entire sincerity'." I'm the proverbial bad student/athlete: When the teacher/coach asks, "Son, what's your problem? Is it ignorance or apathy?," the kid replies, "Sir, i don't know and i don't care." I'm not really sure anymore, but maybe TGL boils down toIf you know the extremes, then you will know the everything in between.Mean Doc = i definitely don't remember the gist. I flipped through the pages and skimmed my notes; it might be slightly more philosophical and moral in nature than Analects or TGL. I rarely agreed with anything written. I rarely cared to notate my quibbles marginally. Of the few quibbles that resulted in scribbles, i don't care to share even one. But i'm trying to be positive. Seriously: what preceded this is me trying to be positive. Or less negative. More effort. Here's some marginally noteworthy wisdom from Master Kung. Tsang said, "The doctrine of our master is to be true to the principles of our nature and the benevolent exercise of them to others,—this and nothing more." {Legge's footnote: The one thing or unity intended by Confucius was the heart, man's nature, of which all the relations and duties of life are only the development and outgoings.... [There is the] "center heart" = I, the ego; and the "as heart" = the I in sympathy with others. [Character 1] is duty-doing, on a consideration, or from the impulse, of one's own self; [Char 2] is duty-doing, on the principle of reciprocity. Confucius only claimed to enforce duties indicated by man's mental constitution. He was simply a moral philosopher.} (Analects, bk V, ¶ xv [pp. 169-170]) The Master said, "To be poor without murmuring is difficult. To be rich without being proud is easy." (Analects, bk XIV, ¶ xi [p.279]) "Without knowing the force of words, it is impossible to know men." (Analects, bk XX, ¶III.3 [p.354]. This is the ultimate sentence of the Analects.) [To this attainment of sincerity] there are requisite the extensive study of what is good, accurate inquiry about it, careful reflection on it, the clear discrimination of it, and the earnest practice of it. (Mean Doc, ch XX, ¶ 19 [p.413]) By the way, i did go back and read the last 150pp of the Analects after reading all of TGL and Mean Doc. Next up in the survey of holy shit, Hinduism's Upanishads. +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ The following is comprehensible only to a couple of my friends, so feel free to skip it. Dick Puzzle #3 Tsang Wan kept a large tortoise in a house, on the capitals of the pillar of which he had hills made, with representations of duckweed on the small pillars above the beams supporting the rafters.—Of what sort was his wisdom? (Analects, bk V, ¶ xvii [p.179])

  7. 5 out of 5

    Taloot S.

    Unimpressively boring

  8. 4 out of 5

    Krokki

    Bedre enn Bibelen!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Ryan Enser

    I learned a lot studying these foundational books of traditional Chinese religion and morality.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Ajdesasha

    5 stars for the content, but a star has to be subtracted for the horrible Legge translation. Some leeway has to be granted for how old the translation is; I can forgive the nonsensical transliteration system that makes it near impossible for even those familiar with Chinese to read the names fluently. I am also aware of the fact that Legge was a very intelligent man who had first-hand access to the (then still living) Confucian scholarly tradition, making his notes often times very valuable. Wha 5 stars for the content, but a star has to be subtracted for the horrible Legge translation. Some leeway has to be granted for how old the translation is; I can forgive the nonsensical transliteration system that makes it near impossible for even those familiar with Chinese to read the names fluently. I am also aware of the fact that Legge was a very intelligent man who had first-hand access to the (then still living) Confucian scholarly tradition, making his notes often times very valuable. What I can't forgive is his complete inability to write beautifully, or sometimes even competently, in English. His prose is full of oddly phrased sentences. A sentence chosen at random: "*Other* men all have their brothers, I only have not." Legge's translation is full of sentences like this. Bizarre italics (this sentence is actually one of the few it makes some sense in), and just strangely worded sentences throughout the book. Early on I wondered if it was just a bad edition, with typos and words left out. But it's apparently just how he wrote. Still, the book has the full Chinese text which is useful if you know any Chinese at all, and the translation is surprisingly accurate, compared to many Chinese to English translations of comparable age.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Milo

    to say hes one of the greatest eastern philosopher of all time i was expecting a lot more.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Brian

    Not much I would argue with in here

  13. 4 out of 5

    Chimezie Ogbuji

    This is actually the version i own, with the ancient seal script on the front. Very traditional values of leadership, virtue, etc.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kay Jean

  15. 5 out of 5

    Lesti

  16. 4 out of 5

    Nada Nizar

  17. 4 out of 5

    Michal Folwarczny

  18. 4 out of 5

    Kai Liang

  19. 4 out of 5

    Audrey Greathouse

  20. 4 out of 5

    Mitchell Stirzaker

  21. 4 out of 5

    Caitlyn

  22. 4 out of 5

    Yamato

  23. 4 out of 5

    Kico

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kay

  25. 5 out of 5

    Princess

  26. 4 out of 5

    Gabe Hawkins

  27. 5 out of 5

    Seth Paquibot

  28. 5 out of 5

    Michael Muldoon

  29. 5 out of 5

    Anthony Vicino

  30. 5 out of 5

    DELTA-9J B-CBD

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