Contemporary figures in the Analects of Confucius: Weisheng Mu

Nothing is known about Weisheng Mu (微生畝) beyond this reference to him in 14.32 of the Analects. Judging by his use of Confucius’s personal name Qiu (丘) in the exchange between the two men, he was either a close friend bantering with the sage or a snarky cynic who decided to put him on the spot.

Many commentators speculate that Weisheng Mu was a proto-Daoist or primitivist recluse who had given up his career as an official to live off the land out of disgust at the corruption and chaos that reigned over the Zhou kingdom during his lifetime.

Confucius has a number of encounters with similar characters in Book 14 and Book 18 of the Analects.

Appearances in the Analects of Confucius
Book 14, Chapter 32

Book 14
Chapter 32
Weisheng Mu said to Confucius: “Qiu, why do you run around preaching all over the place? Is it to show off how clever you are?” Confucius said: “I wouldn’t dare presume that I’m clever; I simply can’t stand willful ignorance.”

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