Analects Book 1: By Numbers


Book 1 is one of the shortest books in The Analects with just sixteen chapters. In addition to Confucius, it introduces five of his disciples including two of his most faithful companions, Zigong and Zixia.

The “young pretenders”, Youzi and Zengzi, also make prominent appearances, thanks no doubt to the machinations of their supporters, who most probably were responsible for compiling the book. Ziqin, a much more obscure figure, rounds out the list.


In analyzing the subject matter of the book, I have broken it down into two broad categories. The first one covers the themes of leadership (君子/jūnzi), learning (學/xué), and governance (政/zhèng), while the second one covers the primary, secondary, and minor values promoted by Confucius and his disciples.


The primary values I am tracking are goodness (仁/rén), virtue (德/), ritual (禮/).


The secondary values are filial piety (孝/xiào), loyalty (忠/zhōng), trustworthiness (信/xìn), and rightness (義/), while the minor ones consist of reciprocity (怒/nù), reverence (恭/gōng), and love (愛/ ài).

At this stage, I don’t have a very clear idea of what value compiling this statistical data will bring apart scratching a nerdish itch of mine. My hope is that it will help me identify the patterns in the text more clearly. It will be interesting to see what, if anything, emerges!

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