A single thread (again)

子曰:「賜也,女以予為多學而識之者與?」對曰:「然,非與?」曰:「非也!予一以貫之。」
Confucius said: “Zigong, do you take me for someone who learns a lot and then stores it all up in my head?” Zigong replied: “Yes, is that not the case?” Confucius said: “No. I weave it all together into a single thread.”

Confucius made the same point in Book 4 Chapter XV when talking about his overall teachings: “Shen, my doctrine is all woven into a single thread.” 「參乎!吾道一以貫之。」

There has been a huge amount of commentarial speculation as to what Confucius meant exactly with this term; presumably it involved combining all the principles that his thinking was comprised of into a unified core.

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