The younger generation

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子曰:「後生可畏,焉知來者之不如今也?四十五十而無聞焉,斯亦不足畏也已!」
Confucius said: “We should treat the younger generation with awe: how do we know that the next generation will not equal the current one? But if a man reaches the age of forty or fifty and has not distinguished himself, he is no longer worthy of being treated with awe.”

Given that his entire philosophy was predicated on reforming society so that it could return to a past golden age, it’s no big surprise that Confucius was unable to imagine that the younger generation could actually surpass the current and previous ones in terms of its achievements. Contrast this with the Western belief that the younger generation has the potential to improve on its predecessors and create a better future than the past.

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