Reverence (恭/gōng) is one of the smaller stars in Confucius’s moral firmament, and can also be translated as “respectfulness”, “solemnity” and “gravity”. It entails working hard at your studies and career and acting in a humble and serious manner when interacting with other people and attending ritual ceremonies. Continue reading Analects Book 1: on reverence
Trustworthiness (信/xìn) is another of the secondary virtues promoted by Confucius, and means being true to your word and being a dependable support for others. In some contexts it can also be translated as “faithfulness”, “sincerity”, or “truthfulness”, “honesty”. Continue reading Analects Book 1: on trustworthiness
Filial piety (孝/xiào) is one of the best known of the values taught by Confucius, probably because it was so heavily promoted by a succession of imperial dynasties starting with the Han who drew a direct link between obedience to parents and obedience to the ruler. Continue reading Analects Book 1: on filial piety
Confucius never provides a single unified definition of what he means by goodness (仁/rén) – the supreme value that he believed everyone should aspire to reach – in The Analects. Instead, he explores its many different facets throughout the text, either with simple statements or in response to questions from his disciples and contemporaries. Continue reading Analects Book 1: on goodness
Before you read a single word of The Analects, it is important to understand that the work comprises a collection of conversations and aphorisms rather than a manifesto. Each of its twenty books features multiple exchanges between multiple characters discussing multiple topics – much like a modern-day social media feed. There are no linear arguments based on carefully-marshaled facts that build up to a resounding conclusion. It is left to you, the reader, to pick through the various threads of the text and connect them to the others to build up their overall understanding of the teachings contained in it.
Continue reading Analects Book 1: Overview
Youzi said: “A man who respects his parents and elders is not likely to question the authority of his superiors. Such a man will never provoke disorder. A leader focuses on the fundamentals; once these are established the Way appears. Respect for parents and elders constitutes the essence of goodness.”
One of the pleasures – and frustrations – of reading the Analects is that it has no coherent narrative arc and instead comprises a random collection of pithy sayings from the sage and his disciples as well as some curt mini-dialogs between them. Continue reading Narrative arcs and social media fodder