My new translation of Book 3 of the Analects is now available for download from SlideShare. This features some memorable rants from Confucius attacking his political foes for attempting to boost their social prestige by holding ritual ceremonies that should by right have been the exclusive preserve of the Son of Heaven and other hereditary rulers.
Although Confucius’s sharp criticisms of seemingly minor infractions may appear to be rather over the top to modern eyes, he saw them as the first step on a slippery slope that would lead to the ultimate collapse of civilization.
Given the extreme turbulence of the Spring and Autumn period (春秋時代) that he lived in during which multiple states and powerful clans were vying with each other for power, Confucius certainly had a point in advocating the importance of maintaining the invisible traditions and conventions that bind a society together. However, the personal nature of his attacks on others for violating them probably did far more harm than good in advancing his argument!