The _ANALECTS_ (Chinese : 論語;
Old Chinese :_*RUN ŋ(R)Aʔ_;
pinyin : _LúNYǔ_; literally: "Edited Conversations"), also known as
the _ANALECTS OF CONFUCIUS_, is a collection of sayings and ideas
attributed to the Chinese philosopher
Confucius and his
contemporaries, traditionally believed to have been compiled and
written by Confucius' followers. It is believed to have been written
Warring States period (475–221 BC), and it achieved its
final form during the mid-
Han dynasty (206 BC–220 AD). By the early
Han dynasty the _Analects_ was considered merely a "commentary" on the
Five Classics , but the status of the _Analects_ grew to be one of the
central texts of
Confucianism by the end of that dynasty.
During the late
Song dynasty (960–1279) the importance of the
_Analects_ as a philosophy work was raised above that of the older
Five Classics, and it was recognized as one of the "
Four Books ". The
_Analects_ has been one of the most widely read and studied books in
China for the last 2,000 years, and continues to have a substantial
influence on Chinese and East Asian thought and values today. They
were very important for
Confucianism and China's overall morals.
Confucius believed that the welfare of a country depended on the
moral cultivation of its people, beginning from the nation's
leadership. He believed that individuals could begin to cultivate an
all-encompassing sense of virtue through _ren _, and that the most
basic step to cultivating _ren_ was devotion to one\'s parents and
older siblings. He taught that one's individual desires do not need to
be suppressed, but that people should be educated to reconcile their
desires via rituals and forms of propriety , through which people
could demonstrate their respect for others and their responsible roles
in society. He taught that a ruler's sense of virtue was his primary
prerequisite for leadership. His primary goal in educating his
students was to produce ethically well-cultivated men who would carry
themselves with gravity, speak correctly, and demonstrate consummate
integrity in all things.
* 1 History
* 1.1 Creation of the text
* 1.2 Importance within
* 1.3 Commentaries
* 2 Contents
* 2.1 Social philosophy
* 2.2 Political philosophy
* 2.3 Education
* 2.4 Chapters
* 3 Notable translations
* 4 See also
* 5 References
* 5.1 Footnotes
* 5.2 Works cited
* 6 Further reading
* 7 External links
CREATION OF THE TEXT
_ Portrait of Confucius, giving a lecture The
Östasiatiska Museet , Stockholm
Ban Gu , writing in the _
Book of Han _, the _Analects_
originated as individual records kept by Confucius' disciples of
conversations between the Master and them, which were then collected
and jointly edited by the disciples after Confucius' death in 473 BC.
The work is therefore titled _Lunyu_ meaning "edited conversations" or
"selected speeches" (i.e. analects). This broadly forms the
traditional account of the genesis of the work accepted by later
generations of scholars, for example the
Song dynasty neo-Confucian
Zhu Xi stated that _Analects_ is the records of Confucius'
first- and second-generation pupils. The view however was challenged
by Qing dynasty philologist Cui Shu (崔述, 1740–1816) who argued
on linguistic ground that the last five books are much later than the
rest of the work. Many modern scholars now believe that the work was
compiled over a period of around two hundred years, with some
questioning the authenticity of some of the sayings. Because no
texts dated earlier than about 50 BC have been discovered, and because
the _Analects_ was not referred to by name in any existing source
before the early Han dynasty, some scholars have proposed dates as
late as 140 BC for the text's compilation.
Regardless of how early the text of the _Analects_ existed, most
_Analects_ scholars believe that, by the early
Han dynasty (206
BC–220 AD) the book was widely known and transmitted throughout
China in a mostly complete form, and the book acquired its final,
complete form during Han dynasty. A
Han dynasty writer Wang Chong
however claimed that the _Analects_ that existed during the Han
dynasty was incomplete and formed only a part of a much larger work.
A larger collection of Confucius' teachings existed in the Warring
States period than has been preserved directly in the _Analects_:
Mencius quotes a number of sayings which occur with different wordings
or in a different context than the received text of _Analects._ At
least three times the amount of those do not exist in the _Analects_
According to the
Han dynasty scholar Liu Xiang , there were two
versions of the _Analects_ that existed at the beginning of the Han
dynasty: the "Lu version" and the "Qi version". The Lu version
contained twenty chapters, and the Qi version contained twenty-two
chapters, including two chapters not found in the Lu version. Of the
twenty chapters that both versions had in common, the Lu version had
more passages. Each version had its own masters, schools, and
transmitters. In the reign of
Emperor Jing of Han (r. 157–141 BC),
a third version (the "
Old Text " version) was discovered hidden in a
wall of the home then believed to be Confucius' when the home was in
the process of being destroyed by King Gong of Lu (r. 153–128 BC) in
order to expand the king's palace. The new version did not contain the
two extra chapters found in the Qi version, but it split one chapter
found in the Lu and Qi versions in two, so it had twenty-one chapters,
and the order of the chapters was different. The old text version got
its name because it was written in characters not used since the
Warring States period (i.e. before 221 BC), when it was
assumed to have been hidden. According to the
Han dynasty scholar
Huan Tan , the old text version had four hundred characters different
from the Lu version (from which the received text of the _Analects_ is
mostly based), and it seriously differed from the Lu version in
twenty-seven places. Of these twenty-seven differences, the received
text only agrees with the old text version in two places.
Over a century later, the tutor of the _Analects_ to Emperor Cheng of
Han , Zhang Yu (d. 5 BC), synthesized the Lu and Qi versions by taking
the Lu version as authoritative and selectively adding sections from
the Qi version, and produced a composite text of the _Analects_ known
as the "Zhang Hou Lun". This text was recognized by Zhang Yu's
contemporaries and by subsequent Han scholars as superior to either
individual version, and is the text that is recognized as the
_Analects_ today. The Qi version was lost for about 1 800 years but
re-found during the excavation of the tomb of
Marquis of Haihun that
was found 2011. No complete copies of either the Lu version or the
old text version of the _Analects_ exist today, though fragments of
the old text version were discovered at Dunhuang .
Before the late twentieth century the oldest existing copy of the
_Analects_ known to scholars was found in the "Stone Classics of the
Xinping Era", a copy of the Confucian classics written in stone in the
Han dynasty capital of
Luoyang around 175 AD.
Archaeologists have since discovered two handwritten copies of the
_Analects_ that were written around 50 BC, during the Western Han
dynasty. They are known as the "
Dingzhou _Analects_", and the
Pyongyang _Analects_", after the location of the tombs in which they
were found. The
Dingzhou _Analects_ was discovered in 1973, but no
transcription of its contents was published until 1997. The Pyongyang
_Analects_ was discovered in 1992. Academic access to the Pyongyang
_Analects_ has been highly restricted, and no academic study on it was
published until 2009.
Dingzhou _Analects_ was damaged in a fire shortly after it was
entombed in the Han dynasty. It was further damaged in an earthquake
shortly after it was recovered, and the surviving text is just under
half the size of the received text of the _Analects_. Of the sections
that survive, the
Dingzhou _Analects_ is shorter than the received
_Analects_, implying that the text of the _Analects_ was still in the
process of expansion when the
Dingzhou _Analects_ was entombed. There
was evidence that "additions" may have been made to the manuscript
after it had been completed, indicating that the writer may have
become aware of at least one other version of the _Analects_ and
included "extra" material for the sake of completeness. The content of
Pyongyang _Analects_ is similar to the
Dingzhou _Analects_; but,
because of the secrecy and isolationism of the North Korean
government, only a very cursory study of it has been made available to
international scholars, and its contents are not completely known
outside of North Korea. Scholars do not agree about whether either the
Dingzhou _Analects_ or the
Pyongyang _Analects_ represent the Lu
version, the Qi version, the old text version, or a different version
that was independent of these three traditions.
IMPORTANCE WITHIN CONFUCIANISM
During most of the Han period the _Analects_ was not considered one
of the principal texts of
Confucianism . During the reign of Han Wudi
(141–87 BC), when the Chinese government began promoting Confucian
studies, only the
Five Classics were considered by the government to
be canonical (_jing_), considered so because
Confucius was assumed to
have partially written, edited, and/or transmitted them. The
_Analects_ was considered secondary as it was thought to be merely a
collection of Confucius' oral "commentary" (_zhuan_) on the Five
The political importance and popularity of
Confucius and Confucianism
grew throughout the Han dynasty, and by the Eastern Han the _Analects_
was widely read by schoolchildren and anyone aspiring to literacy, and
often read before the
Five Classics themselves. During the Eastern
Han, the heir apparent was provided a tutor specifically to teach him
the _Analects_. The growing importance of the _Analects_ was
recognized when the
Five Classics was expanded to the "Seven
Five Classics plus the _Analects_ and the _Classic of
Filial Piety _, and its status as one of the central texts of
Confucianism continued to grow until the late Song dynasty
(960–1279), when it was identified and promoted as one of the Four
Zhu Xi and generally accepted as being more insightful than
the older Five Classics.
_ A copy of He Yan's commentary on the Analects_, with a
sub-commentary by Xing Bing , printed during the
Since the Han dynasty, Chinese readers have interpreted the
_Analects_ by reading scholars' commentaries on the book. There have
been many commentaries on the _Analects_ since the Han dynasty, but
the two which have been most influential have been the _Collected
Explanations of the Analects_ (_Lunyu Jijie_) by
He Yan (c. 195–249)
and several colleagues, and the _Collected Commentaries of the
Analects_ (_Lunyu Jizhu_) by
Zhu Xi (1130–1200). In his work, He Yan
collected, selected, summarized, and rationalized what he believed to
be the most insightful of all preceding commentaries on the _Analects_
which had been produced by earlier Han and Wei dynasty (220–265 AD)
scholars. His personal interpretation of the _Lunyu_ was guided by his
Confucianism complemented each other, so that
by studying both in a correct manner a scholar could arrive at a
single, unified truth. Arguing for the ultimate compatibility of
Daoist and Confucian teachings, he argued that "Laozi was in
agreement with the Sage" (sic). The _Explanations_ was written in 248
AD, was quickly recognized as authoritative, and remained the standard
guide to interpreting the _Analects_ for nearly 1,000 years, until the
Yuan dynasty (1271–1368). It is the oldest complete commentary
on the _Analects_ that still exists.
He Yan's commentary was eventually displaced as the definitive,
standard commentary by Zhu Xi's commentary. Zhu Xi's work also brought
together the commentaries of earlier scholars (mostly from the Song
dynasty), along with his own interpretations. Zhu's work took part in
the context of a period of renewed interest in Confucian studies, in
which Chinese scholars were interested in producing a single "correct"
intellectual orthodoxy that would "save" Chinese traditions and
protect them from foreign influences, and in which scholars were
increasingly interested in metaphysical speculation.
In his commentary Zhu made a great effort to interpret the _Analects_
by using theories elaborated in the other Four Books, something that
He Yan had not done. Zhu attempted to give an added coherence and
unity to the message of the _Analects_, demonstrating that the
individual books of the Confucian canon gave meaning to the whole,
just as the whole of the canon gave meaning to its parts. In his
Zhu Xi stated, "he _Analects_ and the _
Mencius _ are the most
important works for students pursuing the Way The words of the
_Analects_ are all inclusive; what they teach is nothing but the
essentials of preserving the mind and cultivating nature." From the
first publication of the _Commentaries_, Zhu continued to refine his
interpretation for the last thirty years of his life. In the
fourteenth century, the Chinese government endorsed Zhu's commentary,
and until 1905 it was read and memorized along with the _Analects_ by
all Chinese aspiring to literacy and employment as government
Very few reliable sources about
Confucius exist besides that of the
Analects. The principal biography available to historians is included
Sima Qian 's _
Shiji _, but, because the _Shiji_ contains a large
amount of (possibly legendary) material not confirmed by extant
sources, the biographical material on
Confucius found in the
_Analects_ makes the _Analects_ arguably the most reliable source of
biographical information about Confucius.
Confucius viewed himself as
a "transmitter" of social and political traditions originating in the
Zhou dynasty (c. 1000–800 BC), and claimed not to have
originated anything (_Analects_ 7.1), but Confucius' social and
political ideals were not popular in his time.
Confucius' discussions on the nature of the supernatural (_Analects_
3.12; 6.20; 11.11) indicate that he believed while "ghosts" and
"spirits" should be respected, they are best kept at a distance.
Instead human beings should base their values and social ideals on
moral philosophy, tradition, and a natural love for others. Confucius'
social philosophy largely depended on the cultivation of _ren_ by
every individual in a community. Later Confucian philosophers
explained _ren_ as the quality of having a kind manner, similar to the
English words "humane", "altruistic", or "benevolent", but, of the
sixty instances in which
Confucius discusses _ren_ in the _Analects_,
it is clear that very few have these later meanings.
used the term _ren_ to describe an extremely general and
all-encompassing state of virtue, one which no living person had
attained completely. (This use of the term _ren_ is peculiar to the
Throughout the _Analects_, Confucius' students frequently request
Confucius define _ren_ and give examples of people who embody it,
Confucius generally responds indirectly to his students'
questions, instead offering illustrations and examples of behaviours
that are associated with _ren_ and explaining how a person could
achieve it. According to Confucius, a person with a well-cultivated
sense of _ren_ would speak carefully and modestly (_Analects_ 12.3);
be resolute and firm (_Analects_ 12.20), courageous (_Analects_ 14.4),
free from worry, unhappiness, and insecurity (_Analects_ 9.28; 6.21);
moderate their desires and return to propriety (_Analects_ 12.1); be
respectful, tolerant, diligent, trustworthy and kind (_Analects_
17.6); and love others (_Analects_ 12.22).
Confucius recognized his
followers' disappointment that he would not give them a more
comprehensive definition of _ren_, but assured them that he was
sharing all that he could (_Analects_ 7.23).
To Confucius, the cultivation of _ren_ involved depreciating oneself
through modesty while avoiding artful speech and ingratiating manners
that would create a false impression of one's own character
Confucius said that those who had cultivated _ren_
could be distinguished by their being "simple in manner and slow of
speech". He believed that people could cultivate their sense of _ren_
through exercising the
Golden Rule : "Do not do to others what you
would not like done to yourself"; "a man with _ren_, desiring to
establish himself, helps others establish themselves; desiring to
succeed himself, helps others to succeed" (_Analects_ 12.2; 6.28). He
taught that the ability of people to imagine and project themselves
into the places of others was a crucial quality for the pursuit of
moral self-cultivation (_Analects_ 4.15; see also 5.12; 6.30; 15.24).
Confucius regarded the exercise of devotion to one\'s parents and
older siblings as the simplest, most basic way to cultivate _ren_.
Confucius believed that _ren_ could best be cultivated by those who
had already learned self-discipline, and that self-discipline was best
learned by practicing and cultivating one's understanding of _li_ :
rituals and forms of propriety through which people demonstrate their
respect for others and their responsible roles in society (_Analects_
Confucius said that one's understanding of _li_ should inform
everything that one says and does (_Analects_ 12.1). He believed that
subjecting oneself to _li_ did not mean suppressing one's desires, but
learning to reconcile them with the needs of one's family and broader
community. By leading individuals to express their desires within the
context of social responsibility,
Confucius and his followers taught
that the public cultivation of _li_ was the basis of a well-ordered
society (_Analects_ 2.3).
Confucius taught his students that an
important aspect of _li_ was observing the practical social
differences that exist between people in daily life. In Confucian
philosophy these "five relationships" include: ruler to ruled; father
to son; husband to wife; elder brother to younger brother; and friend
_Ren_ and _li_ have a special relationship in the _Analects_: _li_
manages one's relationship with one's family and close community,
while _ren_ is practiced broadly and informs one's interactions with
Confucius did not believe that ethical self-cultivation
meant unquestioned loyalty to an evil ruler. He argued that the
demands of _ren_ and _li_ meant that rulers could oppress their
subjects only at their own peril: "You may rob the Three Armies of
their commander, but you cannot deprive the humblest peasant of his
opinion" (_Analects_ 9.25).
Confucius said that a morally
well-cultivated individual would regard his devotion to loving others
as a mission for which he would be willing to die (_Analects_ 15.8).
Confucius' political beliefs were rooted in his belief that a good
ruler would be self-disciplined, would govern his subjects through
education and by his own example, and would seek to correct his
subjects with love and concern rather than punishment and coercion.
"If the people be led by laws, and uniformity among them be sought by
punishments, they will try to escape punishment and have no sense of
shame. If they are led by virtue, and uniformity sought among them
through the practice of ritual propriety, they will possess a sense of
shame and come to you of their own accord" (_Analects_ 2.3; see also
13.6). Confucius' political theories were directly contradictory to
the Legalistic political orientations of China's rulers, and he failed
to popularize his ideals among China's leaders within his own
Confucius believed that the social chaos of his time was largely due
to China's ruling elite aspiring to, and claiming, titles of which
they were unworthy. When the ruler of the large state of Qi asked
Confucius about the principles of good government, Confucius
responded: "Good government consists in the ruler being a ruler, the
minister being a minister, the father being a father, and the son
being a son" (_Analects_ 12.11). Confucius' analysis of the need to
raise officials' behavior to reflect the way that they identify and
describe themselves is known as the rectification of names , and he
stated that the rectification of names should be the first
responsibility of a ruler upon taking office (_Analects_ 13.3).
Confucius believed that, because the ruler was the model for all who
were under him in society, the rectification of names had to begin
with the ruler, and that afterwards others would change to imitate him
Confucius judged a good ruler by his possession of _de _ ("virtue"):
a sort of moral force that allows those in power to rule and gain the
loyalty of others without the need for physical coercion (_Analects_
Confucius said that one of the most important ways that a ruler
cultivates his sense of _de_ is through a devotion to the correct
practices of _li_. Examples of rituals identified by
important to cultivate a ruler's _de_ include: sacrificial rites held
at ancestral temples to express thankfulness and humility; ceremonies
of enfeoffment, toasting, and gift exchanges that bound nobility in
complex hierarchical relationships of obligation and indebtedness;
and, acts of formal politeness and decorum (i.e. bowing and yielding)
that identify the performers as morally well-cultivated.
The importance of education and study is a fundamental theme of the
_Analects_. For Confucius, a good student respects and learns from the
words and deeds of his teacher, and a good teacher is someone older
who is familiar with the ways of the past and the practices of
antiquity (_Analects_ 7.22).
Confucius emphasized the need to find
balance between formal study and intuitive self-reflection (_Analects_
2.15). When teaching he is never cited in the _Analects_ as lecturing
at length about any subject, but instead challenges his students to
discover the truth through asking direct questions , citing passages
from the classics, and using analogies (_Analects_ 7.8). He sometimes
required his students to demonstrate their understanding of subjects
by making intuitive conceptual leaps before accepting their
understanding and discussing those subjects at greater levels of
depth. (_Analects_ 3.8)
His primary goal in educating his students was to produce ethically
well-cultivated men who would carry themselves with gravity, speak
correctly, and demonstrate consummate integrity in all things
(_Analects_ 12.11; see also 13.3). He was willing to teach anyone
regardless of social class, as long as they were sincere, eager, and
tireless to learn (_Analects_ 7.7; 15.38). He is traditionally
credited with teaching three thousand students, though only seventy
are said to have mastered what he taught. He taught practical skills ,
but regarded moral self-cultivation as his most important subject.
The traditional titles given to each chapter are mostly an initial
two or three incipits . In some cases a title may indicate a central
theme of a chapter, but it is inappropriate to regard a title as a
description or generalization of the content of a chapter. Chapters in
the _Analects_ are grouped by individual themes, but the chapters are
not arranged in a way as to carry a continuous stream of thoughts or
ideas. The themes of adjacent chapters are completely unrelated to
each other. Central themes recur repeatedly in different chapters,
sometimes in exactly the same wording and sometimes with small
Chapter 10 contains detailed descriptions of Confucius' behaviors in
various daily activities.
Ezra Pound believed that this
chapter demonstrated how
Confucius was a mere human.
Simon Leys , who
recently translated the _Analects_ into English and French, said that
the book may have been the first in human history to describe the life
of an individual, historic personage.
Elias Canetti wrote: "Confucius'
_Analects_ is the oldest complete intellectual and spiritual portrait
of a man. It strikes one as a modern book; everything it contains and
indeed everything it lacks is important."
Within these incipits a large number of passages in the Analects
begin with the formulaic _ziyue_, "The Master said," but without
punctuation marks in classical Chinese, this does not confirm whether
what follows _ziyue_ is direct quotation of actual sayings of
Confucius, or simply to be understood as "the Master said that.." and
the paraphrase of
Confucius by the compilers of the Analects.
Xue Er 學而
Wei Zheng 為政
The practice of government
This chapter explores the theme that political order is best gained
through the non-coercive influence of moral self-cultivation rather
than through force or excessive government regulation.
Ba Yi 八佾
Eight lines of eight dancers apiece
Ba Yi was a kind of ritual dance practiced in the court of the Zhou
king. In Confucius' time, lesser nobles also began staging these
dances for themselves. The main themes of this chapter are: criticism
of ritual impropriety (especially among China's political leadership),
and the need to combine learning with nature in the course moral
Chapters 3–9 may be the oldest in the _Analects_.
Li Ren 里仁
Living in brotherliness
This chapter explores the theme of _ren_, its qualities, and the
qualities of those who have it. A secondary theme is the virtue of
Gongye Chang 公冶長
The main theme of this chapter is Confucius' examination of others'
qualities and faults in order to illustrate the desirable course of
moral self-cultivation. This chapter has traditionally been
attributed to the disciples of Zigong, a student of Confucius. Gongye
Chang was Confucius' son-in-law.
Yong Ye 雍也
There is Yong
Yong is Ran Yong, also called Zhou Gong, a student of Confucius.
Shu Er 述而
Transmission, not invention .
Wu Taibo was the legendary founder of the state of Wu . He was the
oldest son of King Tai and the great-grandfather of King Wu of the
Zhou Dynasty .
Zi Han 子罕
The Master shunned
Confucius seldom spoke of advantage.
Xiang Dang 鄉黨
Among the Xiang and the Dang
A "xiang" was a group of 12,500 families; a "dang" a group of 500
families. This chapter is a collection of maxims related to ritual.
Xian Jin 先進
Those of former eras
The former generations. This chapter has traditionally been
attributed to the disciples of Min Ziqian, also known as Min Sun, a
student of Confucius.
Yan Yuan 顏淵
Yan Hui was a common name of Zi Yuan, a favorite disciple of
Zilu was a student of Confucius.
Xian Wen 憲問
This chapter has traditionally been attributed to the disciples of
Yuan Xian, also called both Yuan Si and Zisi, a student of Confucius.
Wei Ling Gong 衛靈公
Duke Ling of Wey
Duke Ling ruled from 534–493 BC in the state of Wey .
Ji Shi 季氏
Chief of the Ji Clan
Ji Sun was an official from one of the most important families in
Lu. This chapter is generally believed to have been written relatively
late; possibly compiled from the extra chapters of the Qi version of
Yang Huo 陽貨
Yang was an official of the Ji clan, an important family in Lu.
Weizi was the older half-brother of Zhou , the last king of the
Shang dynasty , and was founder of the state of Song . The writer of
this chapter was critical of Confucius.
Zizhang was a student of Confucius. This chapter consists entirely
of sayings by Confucius' disciples.
Yao Yue 堯曰
Yao was one of the traditional Three Sovereigns and Five Emperors
of ancient China. This chapter consists entirely of stray sentences
resembling the style and content of the _
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* ^ Slingerland 39
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