Contemporary figures in the Analects of Confucius: Meng Gongchuo

Meng Gongchuo (孟公綽) was a head of the Meng Family, one of the notorious Three Families that had usurped control of the state of Lu from its nominal ruler. Although Gongchuo was by many accounts a widely respected minister with a strong sense of virtue, Confucius expresses doubts in 14.11 about his ability to handle the complexity of ruling small but turbulent states like Teng or Xue. Instead, he suggests that Gongchuo is better suited to the more stable and less demanding task of managing a large noble household such as the Zhao and Wei in the state of Jin.

Appearances in the Analects of Confucius
Book 14, Chapter 11
Book 14, Chapter 12

Book 14
Chapter 11
子曰:「孟公綽為趙魏老則優,不可以為滕薛大夫。」
Confucius said: “Meng Gongchuo is more than qualified to serve as the steward for the Zhao and Wei families, but he is not qualified to serve as a minister in the states of Teng and Xue.”

Chapter 12
子路問「成人」。子曰:「若臧武仲之知,公綽之不欲,卞莊子之勇,冉求之藝,文之以禮樂,亦可以為成人矣!」曰:「今之成人者,何必然?見利思義,見危授命,久要不忘平生之言,亦可以為成人矣!」
Zilu asked how to define a “complete person”. Confucius said: “Take someone as wise as Zang Wuzhong, as free from desire as Gongchuo, as brave as Zhuangzi of Bian, and as cultured as Ran Qiu, as well as being accomplished in ritual and music, and they may be considered a complete person.” Then he added: “But must a complete person be exactly like this today? Someone who thinks of what is right at the sight of profit, who is ready to risk their life when faced with danger, and who can endure hardship without forgetting the teachings that have guided their daily life may also be considered a complete person.”

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