Analects Book 2 by numbers

I’ve added a statistical analysis to my Analects Book 2 SlideShare presentation. In contrast to Book 1, Confucius appears in all the book’s chapters, with the disciples that are featured acting as foils for the sage to make his pronouncements on the subjects of governance,  leadership, filial piety, and learning.


Apart from Zixia and Zigong,  all the other disciples featured in Book 2 are making their first appearances in the Analects – from his favorite and protégé Yan Hui and the ultra-loyal Zilu to  the troublesome Zizhang, the highly-regarded Ziyou,  and the brave but rather dense Fan Chi.

Book 2 also features four contemporary figures who question Confucius about filial piety and governance: Meng Yizi (孟懿子)Meng Wubo (孟武伯)Duke Ai (哀公), and Ji Kangzi (季康子).


Like Book 1, Book 2 of the Analects covers the subjects of leadership and learning. It also also explores the nature of good governance, starting with its famous opening chapter in which Confucius  says “A ruler who governs by the power of virtue is like the Pole Star”.


While virtue and ritual get some brief mentions, goodness doesn’t even come up once in the book. Filial piety, on the other hand, is covered quite extensively. In one of my favorite quotes from the Analects, Confucius complains vociferously in Chapter VII:

“These days, men regard themselves as dutiful sons simply by feeding their parents. But they also feed their dogs and horses. Unless they show their parents due respect, what’s the difference?”

For Confucius, the spirit in which people carried out their duties and responsibilities was critical; it was not sufficient simply to go through the motions.


The other secondary values of loyalty, trustworthiness, and rightness are only featured once each in the book. But in the case of the latter two, Confucius does at least pull out all the stops in the richness and power of the language he conjures up.

In Chapter XXII, he employs a memorable metaphor to show that trust is the linchpin of human relationships: “I wouldn’t know what to do with someone whose word cannot be trusted. How would you pull a wagon without a yoke-bar or a chariot without a collar-bar?”

Then, in Chapter XXIV, he thunders: “To do nothing when rightness demands action is cowardice.”

What a resounding note to finish Book 2 on!


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