Ji Kangzi asked: “Which of your disciples loves learning?” Confucius replied: “There was Yan Hui who loved learning. Unfortunately, his life was cut short and he died. Now there is no one who loves learning as much as he did.”
This is almost a carbon copy of Chapter III of Book 6 of the Analects. The only differences are that it is Ji Kangzi, not Duke Ai, who pops the same question, and Confucius’s response is a little shorter:
Duke Ai asked: “Which of the disciples love learning?” Confucius replied: “There was Yan Hui who loved learning; he never vented his anger; he never made the same mistake again. Sadly, his allotted time was short and he died. I have not heard of anyone else with such a love of learning.”
Is this just a case of sloppy editing or does it open up more serious questions about the very authenticity of some of the content in the Analects? I suppose it’s possible that the two men asked Confucius exactly the same question and were given the more or less the same answer. Possible, I said, but highly unlikely.