Ji Kangzi (季康子) is the posthumous title given to Jisun Fei (季孫肥), the chief minister of Lu between 491 and 468 BC and head of the Jisun (季孫) clan, one of the notorious Three Families that ran the state. Although Confucius criticized him heavily for disrespecting the rites and introducing a field tax, Ji Kangzi invited him to return to Lu from his long exile at the request of his counselor Ran Qiu (冉求), who was also a disciple of the sage.
Ji Kangzi asked: “What should I do to make the people respectful, loyal, and eager to follow me?” Confucius said: “Treat them with dignity, and they will be respectful. Show you are a good son and a loving father, and they will be loyal. Promote the good and teach those who lack ability, and they will be eager to follow you.”
When he heard that the head of the Ji Family used eight rows of dancers to perform in the ceremonies at his ancestral temple, Confucius commented: “If he is capable of that, what isn’t he capable of?”
The head of the Ji Family was about to set off to carry out a sacrifice on Mount Tai. Confucius said to Ran Qiu: “Can you not stop this?” Ran Qiu replied: “I cannot.” Confucius said: “Oh no! Has it ever been said that the spirit of Mount Tai has even less knowledge of the rites than Lin Fang?”
Ji Kangzi asked: “Is Zilu fit to be appointed to government office?” Confucius said: “Zilu is resolute. Why isn’t he fit to be appointed to government office?” Ji Kangzi asked again: “Is Zigong fit to be appointed to government office?” Confucius said: “Zigong is intelligent. Why isn’t he fit to be appointed to government office?” Ji Kangzi asked again: “Is Ran Qiu fit to be appointed to government office?” Confucius said: “Ran Qiu has many talents. Why isn’t he fit to be appointed to government office?”
When the head of the Ji Family sent an invitation to Min Ziqian to become governor of the town of Bi, he replied to the messenger: “Please convey my regrets. If anyone comes with a second invitation, I will be obliged to go and live on the other side of the River Wen.”
When Ji Kangzi sent him some medicine, Confucius bowed as he accepted the gift but said: “Since I don’t know what this substance is, I dare not taste it.”
Ji Kangzi asked: “Which of your disciples loves learning?” Confucius replied: “There was Yan Hui who loved learning. Unfortunately, his life was cut short and he died. Now there is no one who loves learning as much as he did.”