Confucius in his own words: Analects Book 4

There are a lot of great quotes from Confucius in Book 4 of the Analects.  There’s no doubt in my mind that if he were alive today, he would have been able to more than hold his own as political pundit on TV with his strong opinions and (in Classical Chinese at least) snappy sound bites. 

My favorite quote of his from Book 4 comes in Chapter X:

子曰:「君子之於天下也,無適也,無莫也,義之於比。」
Confucius said: “In dealing with the world, a leader has no prejudice or bias: he takes the side of what is right.”

In other words, you should judge each situation encounter on its objective merits  and do the right thing rather than allow your thoughts be swayed by any preconceptions of relations you may have.

Confucius further emphasizes this point in Chapter XVI when he says:

子曰:「君子喻於義,小人喻於利。」
Confucius said: “A leader is concerned about what is right; a small-minded man is concerned about what is in his own interest.”

I can’t think of a more powerful single principle to follow in the decision-making process. It can be far too easy to let your judgment be colored by other less noble considerations.

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