Youzi speaks

Chapter Two of Book One of the Analects features the first quotation from one of Confucius’s disciples. Youzi (有子), or Zi Ruo (子若) or You Ruo (有若) to use his courtesy and given names, apparently bore such a remarkable physical resemblance to the sage that for a short period after Confucius’s death he was regarded as his successor. Unfortunately for Youzi, however, his talents didn’t match those as of the sage and he went off to set up his own school after losing the confidence of Confucius’s other remaining disciples.

Youzi’s own disciples are said to have played a major role in compiling the content of Book One of the Analects, so it’s probably no big surprise that they managed to slip three references to their master into it – compared to only two in the other 19 chapters of the Analects.

While there’s little reason to doubt that You’s words of wisdom in the Analects reflect the opinions of Confucius, it’s important to take them with a slight pinch of salt given that his disciples had a certain self-interest in burnishing the image of their master.

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